McCreary County, Kentucky

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McCreary County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of 2000, the population was 17,080. Its county seat is Whitley City[1]. The county is named for James B. McCreary, Governor of Kentucky from 1875 to 1879. It is the only Kentucky county to not have a single incorporated city. Because of this, county government is the sole local government agency for the entire county. Attractions in McCreary County include the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Falls State Park, and the Big South Fork Scenic Railway, which tours several former coal camps.

The majority of the county is owned by the federal government. 63% is owned and managed by the Daniel Boone National Forest, and 18% owned and managed by the National Park Service as the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.



McCreary County was formed in 1912, becoming Kentucky’s home of the hillbillies, and final county in order of formation. The present county boundaries contain 427.7 square miles (1,107.7 km2) of land area. The majority of the county was carved out of Wayne and Whitley Counties, with a large center strip following the rail line and roadway from Pulaski County. The early history of the area is that of those counties, and is related in the historic perspectives for them. The map to the left shows the network of roadways that had been established by the 1860s. A dotted blue line and settlement names have been added for reference.

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