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Water in KentuckyNatural History, Communities, and Conservation$
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Brian D. Lee, Daniel I. Carey, and Alice L. Jones

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813168685

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813168685.001.0001

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The American Dream and the Water Bounty in Appalachian Kentucky

The American Dream and the Water Bounty in Appalachian Kentucky

Chapter:
(p.54) Chapter Five The American Dream and the Water Bounty in Appalachian Kentucky
Source:
Water in Kentucky
Author(s):

John R. Burch Jr.

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813168685.003.0005

Since the early nineteenth-century, entrepreneurs have looked to Eastern Kentucky’s natural resources as a means to enrich themselves and their business partners. In their wake, they have often left an impoverished region that suffers from chronic unemployment, economic underdevelopment, and severe environmental damage. The story of the three forks of the Kentucky River demonstrates that the economic prosperity of the Commonwealth has historically been tied to its waterways. For Eastern Kentucky, this connection has not resulted in long-term prosperity, but rather brief moments of development tied to the water harvest bounty. For example, on the Kentucky River’s South Fork, Central Kentucky elites shipped salt for national pork preservation. The salt pork industry led to a brief prosperity in Clay County that ended with the rise of the Kanawha salt industry elsewhere in the country. In Lee County at the Kentucky River’s main course, lock and dam construction for transporting lumber and coal boosted the local economy significantly, but by the time the dams were finished, the Louisville and Atlantic Railroad had gained shipments previously reserved for waterways and modern barges had grown too large for the river.

Keywords:   Three Forks of the Kentucky River, Salt Pork, Beartrap Dam, Louisville and Atlantic Railroad, Thomas D. Clark, Kentucky River Development Association

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