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Kentucky Colleges

Kentucky Colleges

 

Kentucky was the first region west of the Allegheny Mountains to be settled by American frontiersmen.  The area was originally part of Virginia but gained statehood in 1792.  In 1775 Daniel Boone blazed the Wilderness Trail through the Cumberland Gap and founded Boonesboro.  Trappers and land speculators followed, and by the time the Revolutionary War was over the area had been colonized to some degree.

 

During the Civil War Kentucky was technically a slave state but its populace had a strong abolitionist element within it.  Thousands of Kentuckians fought on both sides in the conflict and each side made periodic forays into the area attempting to claim the state as loyal to one side or the other. 

 

Kentucky has been both blessed and cursed by the abundant coal deposits beneath its ground.   There has been significant development of oil resources in the state, but coal still accounts for eighty five percent of all mineral production.  The coal mines in Kentucky have shaped that state’s economy and its social structure in many parts of the state.  In stretches of the Kentucky hill country, the jobs are in the coal mines and nowhere else.  Such has been the case for generations.  Poverty has also been a constant in those hills for generations.  There is not a lot of fertile, arable land in Kentucky and what there is went to the wealthy long ago. 

 

The state is known for producing fine race horses, tobacco and whiskey as well as the nation’s legendary Louisville Slugger baseball bats.  Industrialization has brought auto plants, electrical equipment manufacturing and a textile industry.  Tobacco is the largest agricultural crop: Kentucky is second only to North Carolina in the production of that commodity.

 

There is great beauty to the state, among its hills and hollows and throughout the horse country around Lexington.  Louisville is its largest city with a population of about 275,000.  The city is known for the Kentucky Derby but otherwise has remained a relatively quiet, moribund area.  Recently they have built a large convention facility with the hope of capitalizing on the beauty of the area and the city’s fame as home of the Derby.

 

The University of Kentucky in Lexington and the University of Louisville are the two best known colleges.  There are another half dozen universities scattered through the state, most of them state supported.  Kentuckians have the option of crossing over the Ohio River into Cincinnati if they reside in the northern portion of the state and pursuing and education there.  Kentucky has its pockets of developing commercial enterprise, some in Louisville and others spinning off the university in Lexington. 

 

Many of the young people of the state that make it to college try to make their way in their home state.  There is no apparent exodus of the educated Kentucky residents in their twenties.   It is the young people in the hills of eastern Kentucky and the coal country that never even consider seeking higher education because they’ve never been shown its value.

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