Friday, August 28

It was more than a mere structure of wood and iron, the Hardburley coal tipple was a landmark for many decades. Built by rugged men as a rugged monument to a rugged era, it was symbolic of an economy. Across the span of a half century, many fortunes in coal were shaken through its sturdy timbers. At one time it was the largest wooden tipple in the world. Two generations of mining families grew in the coal camp around the gaunt black structure. Men of the hills, men with the strength of the hills, erected the Hardburly tipple, as part of the booming of the coal industry in Eastern Kentucky soon after the turn of the century. The men whose muscle hoisted those huge square oak timbers into place have departed the human scene. There are none to replace them. This is a weaker age, in more than physical ways, too.

Now the Hardburley tipple is gone, it burned in 1962. Besides its purpose in moving a vast tonnage of coal, it was a tourist attraction. Thousands of travelers went out of their way to watch the giant apparatus at work.

Harburly was founded by and named for the Hardy Burlington Mining Company.

Tuesday, August 25

You'll meet people from most every state in the Union in Hazard, Kentucky. Not more than 20% of its population are native Hazardites. It is this diversified population which makes Hazard such an interesting and fascinating place to live.

Its people have come to Hazard because it is a good town in which to work and make a living, and a good town to raise a family.

Hazard is located in the very heart of Eastern Kentucky on the North Fork of the Kentucky River, 145 miles southeast of Lexington. It is served by the L & N Railroad and state highway routes 15 and 80. Hazard is just completing a fine small airport for the air minded traveler.

Approximately eight square miles are included within the corporate limits of the city of Hazard. Perry County has a land area of about 1,700 square miles.

Main Street in Hazard is 850 feet above sea level, with some of its residential areas rising to 1,200 feet.

The average temperature is about 60 degrees. Due to the mountains surrounding Hazard, the summers are seldom hot with nights always pleasant. Mosquitoes are almost unknown.

According to recent estimates, Hazard has 7,185 people, Perry County 47,000. The metropolitan trading area includes 100,000 people.

Coal is the chief product in Perry County. There are 23 commercial mines and numerous truck operations. 4,500 men are employed in the commercial mines. 1952

Tuesday, August 18

Three Trails Of Vapor

"I certainly don't say they were flying saucers, but I sure would like to know what they were." That's the way Mrs. John Copeland describes the three objects she saw in the sky over Hazard today about noon. With Mrs. Copeland at the time was Mrs. Paul Petrey, Broadway Street. And also watching from across the street was Mrs. Warren Haden, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. S. Petrey who is visiting here now. Mrs. Copeland says that they noticed three trails of vapor or exhaust or something very very high. The three trails were at different altitudes. They did not remain visible long, as do the vapor trails from normal gasoline piston engine planes flying at high altitudes, nor did they resemble jet plane exhausts, she said. Mrs. Copeland said she had seen jets flying and these trails were not at all similar. Claudine Petrey, who along with her brother Sanders Petrey, is considered the flying saucer authority in Hazard said that she plans to watch each noon for a possible recurrence of the phenonema, recalling that the recent reported sighting of the flying discs at Pikeville was around noon. 1950

Monday, August 17

Girl On The Second Floor

Did you ever characterize people by the looks on their faces? Yes? Well, brother you should be where I am right now.

I'm sitting in the Hazard Herald office, directly across the street from the Mount Mary Hospital. Our big pane windows offer a luscious view that carries us right into a hospital room most any time we care to look up toward the second floor.

The faces that appear at the various windows on that floor are enough to floor a heavyweight champ. Mixed emotions are in evidence most any time of day. Patients glare out the windows and their facial contortions tell a story of anger, fear, sympathy - seeking, pain, satisfaction and just about every other category that a human being's feelings could be placed in.

Right now a lady is staring out the window. Her eyes have been fixed on passerbys for at least twenty minutes. She has her face for support and occasionally cranes her neck to follow some breakneck speedster who splits down High Street too fast. She invariably lets her little finger drift into her mouth and then chews away - as contented as Borden's Cow. She looks as though nothing could make her happy, so we know she isn't a prospective mother. She is sitting in an awkward position, so we know there are no fractured bones.

As a matter of fact, we will probably sit here all day and wonder what's wrong with her. 1948

Sunday, August 16


Thursday – January 25th 1940, just a typical cold day in Hazard. A steady flow of traffic traveled down Main Street. The sidewalks were busy with people. The whittlers were swapping stories at the court house square. It was shortly before noon and many downtown restaurants were getting ready for the lunch time rush.

Miss Ruby Dagly, a clerk at the Kentucky Power Company greeted customers as they entered the business on the first floor of the Masonic Temple. James T. Smallwood of Rockcastle was in the lobby getting warm. Hope Harmon was paying his bill. Jacqueline Bullard, a cashier at the power company gave Mr. Harmon his receipt and change. It was exactly 18 minutes and 44 seconds before noon when the unthinkable happened.

A massive explosion ripped through the building. There was a roar and the cashier's cage tipped inward as the floor disintegrated. Bullard fell into the basement, or at least part way down through the falling floor. "I saw or believe I saw the flooring in the middle of the room flying upward," she said. Bullard crawled up through the broken flooring and out a side window in the alley next to the First Baptist Church. She suffered burns on one ankle, her hair about the face was singed and she ached all over.

People who were in the lobby when the explosion occurred said that the floor heaved upward, and that the roar of the blast seemed to come from all over the building. The second floor buckled in many places. The main stairway from the ground floor was blown to bits and escape from the second story came down an iron fire escape. The third floor occupied by the Masonic Temple buckled upward. Gas, from an unknown source, which permeated the entire basement of the power company office building was apparently ignited by a spark.

22 year old Joe Curtis who had worked for the local office of the power company for the past three years was killed in the explosion. Ruby Dagly received multiple fractures, several crushed ribs and a punctured lung. Hope Harmon had a fracture at the base of his skull. Many others suffered burns.

"I had been standing in the middle of the room by a pillar and saw the man (Harmon) come in and pay his bill," recalled James Smallwood. "I had just decided that I would go out doors, and had turned and started toward the front door when there was a terrible roaring noise and I was thrown against the ceiling. I fell to the floor, or what was left of the floor, partly on some man, I suppose the same man who was paying his bill. The room was choked with fumes and smoke and dust and I could scarcely breathe. I began to crawl toward the place I remembered as the door and finally got outside in the clear air," said Smallwood who had a deep gash on his right cheek, cuts and bruises and a broken ankle.

More than a dozen men were conducting a farm group meeting in the assembly room at the rear of the 2nd floor of the Masonic Building when the blast occurred. 74 year old J.W. Walker of Allais, who was attending the meeting, was thrown upward and in falling suffered a broken pelvis. He said the meeting had dissolved into various small groups for discussion and had just been called into session again by County Agent Allington Crace in order that it might adjourn, when the blast came. They escaped down the rear stairway.

Carter Fields of Busy suffered painful cuts on his left foot when he stopped a large piece of plate glass flying across the street toward him. Fields was in the center of Main Street when the blast came and staggered him. He believed that had he not taken the brunt of the flying glass that it might have more seriously injured the group with him.

The time of the blast had been recorded by a stopped electric clock located in the office of R.L. Gordon, district manager for the company.

Wednesday, August 12

Hazard's business district is occupied by modern retail stores of all types as well as hotels, restaurants, banks, theaters, etc. There are three hotels in the downtown area - the Grand, Hibler and Hurst. A fourth, the Lincoln, is located on North Main Street.

Business development has expanded rapidly in recent years to the East Main and North Main sections, especially due to construction of large, modern garages out of the crowded Main Street area.

Sports and recreation are important in the life of the people of Hazard. In 1951, the people of Hazard and Perry County cooperated to build Memorial Gymnasium, which is one of the outstanding gyms in the state from the standpoint of beauty, seating capacity and facilities.

Hazard is a member of the Class D Mountain States Baseball League. The Bombers won the 1951 season championship and playoffs and was runner-up in the 1950 season.

Bobby Davis Memorial Park and Library is one of the outstanding attractions of the city both from the viewpoint of beauty and usefulness. The pool at the park has been of inestimable value by providing facilities for swimming classes, life saving courses and recreation for both youngsters and adults. The park has two picnic areas which are used in conjunction with the pool for club and family gatherings. 1952

Monday, August 10

Well, Mom got us youngans ready to go to Maces Creek for a weekend visit with my Aunt Emmer. Her real name is Emmaline but Emmer sounds best. She lived on a farm and that was an experience for us “city” kids. I loved Aunt Emmer’s for she had a big water well in her front yard and all we had to do to get a good drink was lower the bucket into the well, bring it back up, and pour a glass full of pure, cold, water. “Be careful, Idy, land sakes, you are going to topple over into the well, and you’d be gone forever…” To say the least I was careful.

Now, here is where my story gets graphic a little for I was about to go to the potty and I knew when coming here I would have to go to the “little house outback”. I wasn’t afraid of the well, but I had unleased fear of the outhouse. Mom would not go with me and I had to set out down the yard all by myself. I thought, “She’s going to let me surely be gone forever…” To get to the outhouse I had to pass an old mother hen and her diddles and I had learned earlier on a visit you don’t rile up a mother hen. I crossed my legs and did a little dance while waiting for the mother hen to take her brood on down in the lower yard. Well, I was lucky for she saw better pickings on down in the yard and shooed her little brood that way.

I opened the door to the outhouse and Aunt Emmer and Uncle Ray kept it nice and clean but no matter how much they worked you could not keep that smell away. So, I proceeded to climb up on the “hole” and got my footing about where it needed to be and I slipped. God was in there I know for I didn’t slide into the muck at the bottom but caught myself on the big iron nail-like thing that held the catalog. WHEW, I was saved by Sears and Roebuck. I hurriedly got my business done and was ready to make my departure. All of a sudden my heart leaped when I heard the “cluck, cluck, cluck” of the mother hen and right away without looking outside I knew she was guarding the outhouse door and was not going to let me out. “I knew it, I knew it, I ain’t never going to get out”. I was not going to fight the mother hen, no sirree bill!!!!

I grabbed hold of one of the catalogs and started thumbing through it in hopes the hen would get tired of guarding the door and let me out. To this day I do not know why they kept catalogs in there cause us little ones could not read, but I looked at the pictures. I could tell by the cracks in the old outhouse that it was getting dusky dark, and my fear was monumental by this time. In the distance I heard Mom holler “Idy, Idy, where in blue blazes are you?” “Idy, we’re going to leave without you and if you are playing in the creek, you had better run here right now.” Oh, what was I to do, I hollered with all my might, “come and get me, come and get me, the old hen has got me holed up in the outhouse…” Well, I started to cry for I knew that I would sleep on this one-holer for the night. I let out with a scream and a holler that would run a saint out of a thicket, and Mom heard me. When she got the door open, and reached for me, I fell into her arms, and she was trying to soothe me the best she could, and she did because that is what mothers do, they soothe the brow of a child in pain, and I was in pain, scared pain from the fear of that old hen, and as Mom carried me up the little path back to the house, I heard that old hen clucking louder than ever, and I always will say she was laughing at me.

To this day I have never eaten a piece of chicken, a piece of turkey or anything that flies or plays around in a farm yard.

Thursday, August 6

A few days ago a man came in and said, "I would like to get a job." I asked him how old he was. He said he was 92. It was none other than White Jim Combs. I said, "Jim, what are you wanting a job for at your age?" He stated he was so tired of hearing fellows like Roy Baker, Charlie Robinson, Jim Cole and all the others that are on the retired and whittling list bragging about getting their Social Security check every month. Jim, I would say since you have made it this far, also raised a large family as you did, I believe you could out-brag a lot of those whittlers. During the cold weather many of the old timers don't sit on the court house wall but instead sit near the ashes of their fireplace waiting for warm weather. Not Jim and a few others I know. They make the best of a spell of cold weather better than a lot I know. Course you can sit down and give up, but it is good to know that we still have old people that have ambitions to move ahead. 1962

Wednesday, August 5

Back in the 1920s - Charlie Johnson nearly lost his life in a mine accident. Although he became a paraplegic he didn't let that stop him from making a living and contributing to the local community. In November 1929 - Charlie started driving a taxi and ended up owning a gas station and car repair shop. In 1943 - he started Johnson's Tire Service and became the Goodyear Tire distributor in Perry County. In 1947 he moved the buisiness into a one story building across from Faulkner's Garage on East Main Street. He continued to live in Hardburley until he added an apartment over his business. He added a recap plant to the firm in the late '40s. When Harry Caudill published his book, "Night Comes to the Cumberlands," he mentioned Charlie Johnson's success. "One disabled miner, who purchased a strategically situated service station in 1939, sold $50,000,00 worth of truck tires in 1947," he wrote. The coal trucks were one of his long term customers. Charlie had a keen mind for business and his tire store and recap plant kept his customers happy. The residents of Hazard knew they could count on him to provide a quality service and product.

Charlie Johnson died in January 1965 of a heart attack. His daughter, Virginia, conducted business at Johnson's Tire Service until 1968. Click on the image for a closer look.

Tuesday, August 4


Summer fun is in the air, it’s 1949, and as far as Big Bottom goes, all is well. I woke up this morning wondering just what us kids on Liberty Street could get into. Most of us were sleeping late but soon the coffee was biling (boiling), smoke was rising from the chimneys up and down the holler, and it was time to PLAY.

I thought to myself, “I know what I am going to do and if the rest want to join in they can, but if not, oh well.”

Gotta look around behind the Bakery, the Double Cola Plant, and through the alley to see if any cardboard boxes were set out during the night. I glanced down through Maple Street to see if by chance Gene Baker’s boys had set out anything, but saw nothing. I went behind the Bakery and lo and behold there was the box of my dreams. “Gotta have this one, it’ll be perfect!”

Here I go dragging that big cardboard box through the alley and over to 109 Liberty Street. Iona Baugh was watching from her kitchen wondering what in the world Idy was up to so early in the morning. Pretty soon she would know.

With all the pains in the world, making sure I didn’t tear it needlessly, I sat out to make me a cardboard slide. Now, if’n you ain’t never had a cardboard slide, you missed a whole lot of fun, fun, fun. I got it fixed just right, and up Liberty Street I took. I sure was proud of myself, hee hee hee. I was going to be the envy of them all today for I had the biggest box I could find and by ransacking I knew there wasn’t much left to choose from.

Now, Liberty Street had some hills and the one that we used the most sat right across from Goble McDaniel’s house and standing looking from the telephone pole up, your eyes were right in the back yard of Pat Moran. I started the climb up the hill dragging my prize cardboard box, and I found the grassiest place on the little hill. I took my cardboard box, sat down on it, and lifted part of it upwards, placing my feet carefully so as not to drag; I was ready now to take the hill. I guess you might call this “card boarding” and I gave myself a big shove and down the hill I went, whooping and a-hollering, and the grass was wet from the dew that fell in the early morning and I had the ride of my life, making sure that my ride didn’t end straddling that telephone pole. It didn’t and I rolled off my “cardboard slide”, give the hill another glance, thought about it, and off I took back up that hill with all the gusto I could muster. By that time I got company and they each had their cardboards. By the time we got ready to quit that poor hillside was bare, not a blade of grass could be seen.

Such a simple life in the 40’s and 50’s. I wonder if someday in the future if there will be “card boarding” or maybe they will find a new name for it, reckon????

Monday, August 3

I noticed around town the hurry and bustle of mothers trying to get their kids ready for school. Yes it was quite different when we went to school on opening day. We just put on our Brogans, clean pair of overalls and way we went. 1959