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Image 554 of Kentucky : a guide to the Bluegrass state

Part of Kentucky Works Progress Administration Publications

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436 HIGHWAYS AND BYWAYS miles, is typical of the numerous half-abandoned mining towns of the area. They are unincorporated and, with their unpaved streets and un- 1 painted buildings, come into view like blighted spots on the land. They have all the inconveniences and few, if any, of the comforts of modern . towns of equal size, and none of the advantages of the agricultural coun- j tryside. Small drab houses, most of them in need of repair, huddle 4 close together along the deep valleys or stand uncertainly on the moun- tain sides. Most of them are of boom-time ilimsiness, with one thick- ‘ ness of board in the walls that rest on slender, often tottering, posts, l many are papered with newspapers and patched with cardboard to shut Q out draughts. Dark hills of coal tailings blotch the sides and bases of ' the larger hills. The numerous abandoned mines are marked by , warped and disjointed frame tipples and entrances, weathered to a dull 1 gray. Only the waters of Pond Creek, now littered with tin cans and ¥ other refuse, suggest the natural beauty that was destroyed by indus- ; trial development when it penetrated the formerly inaccessible places. · Since the middle 1920’s the miners of the Pond Creek region, when j not totally unemployed, have worked only part time. Some of the I towns are slowly reviving on a new pattern. Mining, of necessity, is no longer the sole occupation. Odd jobs in lumbering, agriculture, road building, Government projects and construction, supplement the em- ployment, mostly seasonal, that is still afforded by the mines. The groups of men clustered around a store or the local "joint" are part of the army of former miners. Life in the coal-mining towns is meager and hard. The customary diet of the miner and his family consists chiefly of beans-—and more beans—corn bread made without milk, and "bulldog gravy," a mixture of flour, water, and a little grease. In the summer those fortunate enough to find a small patch may grow a few vegetables, but for the most part they grow pumpkins. There is little or no milk available even for the children. As a result diseases of mal- nutrition are common. Leisure is abundant and money scarce. Brawls and an occasional shooting, a bit of penny- and nickel-gambling, all of them usually enlivened with moonshine, are the recreation of the men. US 119 at 7 m. begins its ascent from the valley into the mountains vrlxzlgose forested slopes and ridges constantly change in appearance. ey are gray-green on a misty mornin a vivid een on a clear after- noon. The tender fernlike foliage of eaily springgrwhen each leaf, bud, and shoot is a delicate green, changes into the heavier, deeper-hued vegetation of summer. In the fall, the sun, which shines in many val- leys for only a few hours, splashes the tree-clad mountains with light, intensifying the yellows, reds, oranges, browns, and dark greens. One of the most impressive views on US 119 between Williamson, · West Virginia, and Pikeville is at 17.2 m. From the top of the ridge the surrounding maze of ranges, deeply cut by narrow valleys and ex- tending to the horizon, form a scene of wild, rugged beauty. I PIIQEVILLE, 32.2 m. (680 alt., 3,376 pop.) (see Tour 1), is at the junction with US 23 (see Tour 1),- between this point and jenkins, US 119 and US 23 are united.