LakeCumberland.gif (61035 bytes) Whitley County Kentucky Information

Lake Cumberland by James E. Lawson

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This page contains information on the formation of Whitley County Kentucky, it's topography, Early Settlers, Major Economy Past/Present,Towns, Local Colleges and Attractions, and a link to information on the Marsh Creek area.  The Marsh Creek page gives information on the formation of the Bethel Church and names of 36 of it's early families.  There are also links to where to find  accommodations in the Whitley Area, Motels and Campgrounds.


"The fifty-ninth county in order of formation, Whitley County is located in southeastern Kentucky, along the Tennessee state line. It is bordered by Bell, Knox, Laurel, and McCreary counties and has an area of 443 square miles. The county was formed January 17, 1818, from a section of Knox County and was named in honor of Col. William Whitley, a Kentucky pioneer and Indian fighter. The county seat, Williamsburg was originally called Whitley Courthouse.

The topography of Whitley County is hilly to mountainous, a steep and rugged landscape. Three-fourths of the county is forested with oak, black walnut, yellow poplar, hickory, and pine. The Daniel Boone National Forest covers 38,000 acres of the county, including Jellico Mountain, with an elevation of 2,124 feet. The major water sources are the Cumberland and Laurel Rivers.

In April 1759 explorer Dr. Thomas Walker and his party entered the Whitley County area at Blake's Fork Creek. Raiding parties of Indians frequently attacked and killed hunters and trappers. Among those killed, probably by Cherokee, were Joseph Johnson at Lynn Camp and the son of Joe Tye on Big Poplar Creek. In 1786 Indians attacked the large group of settlers known as McNitt's company and killed twenty-one of them in the area between the Big and Little Laurel Rivers .

Williamsburg  and Corbin are the two incorporated towns in the county. Corbin is the county's largest town. The county's largest employers, located in Corbin, are American Greetings Corporation; NCR Systems Media, which makes business forms; National Standard Company, which manufactures industrial wire, cloth, and fibers; Tri-County Manufacturing and Assemblies, which produces typewriter components; and CSX Transportation. CSX completed a $41 million expansion of its railroad service facilities at Corbin in 1988.

Although the rugged terrain limits agriculture in Whitley County, some tobacco, corn, and livestock are raised. Lumber and coal have been the mainstays of the county's economy. Among the mineral resources of the area are coal, oil, iron, and minute traces of silver.

Whitley County is also the home of Cumberland College in Williamsburg.

Cumberland Falls , the "Niagara of the South," is located in Whitley County. Cumberland Falls State Resort Park offers a lodge, cottages, camping, swimming, hiking, horseback riding, and convention facilities. Laurel River Lake covers 5,600 acres in Whitley County. These attractions, along with the Nibroc (Corbin spelled backwards) Festival and the scenic trails of the Daniel Boone National Forest, make Whitley County a major recreation area.

The population of Whitley County was 24,145 in 1970, 33,396, in 1980; and 33,326, in 1990."

Article by Ron Bryant
"The Kentucky Encyclopedia" c 1992 University Press of Kentucky, Editor in Chief John E. Kleber; Associate Editors Thomas D. Clark; Lowell H. Harrison; James C. Klotter.


Learn about Whitley County's Marsh Creek area.

Accommodations in the Whitley County Area.

Corbin Kentucky, Williamsburg Kentucky

Camp Grounds:  Cumberland Falls State Park , CORBIN KOA


Attractions in this area:  

Trace the footsteps of Danial Boone


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This page was last updated 22 June, 2003