As I have mentioned before, my wife's family is from Whitesburg, so I frequently find myself in Eastern Kentucky. I noticed the last time that I put up an update on my status that I had inexplicably failed to make it Lee County, which seemed like a huge hole in my map. So last evening, I was headed to Jackson to meet the in-laws halfway, and I decided that on the way back we would swing through Beattyville instead of Campton.
The drive from Jackson to Beattyville is spectacular. State highway 52 runs parallel to the railroad tracks, and the tracks run a considerable height above the roadway. This means that occasionally, a few really amazing old tunnels run underneath the tracks. I've never really driven side roads through the mountains, and after this trip, I can highly recommend it. The roads might be a little crazy at times, but you get a completely different experience than the one you get sticking to the Mountain Parkway.
Beattyville reminds me a lot of Morehead. The Main Street areas are just very similar. I've recently become a big fan of the Kentucky Explorer, a really interesting little magazine full of history and photos. According to a recent issue, Beattyville had a population of 400 in 1879, with a 4 lawyers, a couple of general stores, several hotels, a flour mill and a grist mill.
When I came up to the courthouse square, I immediately noticed a couple of buildings across the street that looked like they had been pretty heavily damaged by fire. I had forgotten about the Beattyville fire of 2009, which destroyed an entire block of the city that sits across from the courthouse pictured above.
So I was taking my pictures and walking around the courthouse square when I noticed a sign that stated that Beattyville is a part of Homeland Security initiatives, and any suspicious activity would be reported to local authorities. I started to ask myself what sort of suspicious activities might be happening in Beattyville, when the realization struck me that a stranger taking pictures of the courthouse was probably pretty unusual. So I got in the car pretty quickly.