Madisonville, Kentucky

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Madisonville is a city in Hopkins County, Kentucky, United States of the Western Coal Field region, located along US 41 and The Pennyrile Parkway. The population was 19,307 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Hopkins County[1]. The city was named in honor of U.S. President James Madison.[2]

Madisonville is a commercial center of the region and is home to Madisonville Community College.



Madisonville was founded in 1807 and named for James Madison (who was then Secretary of State). Madisonville was named the county seat of Hopkins County in 1808 and was incorporated in 1810.

Hopkins County and Madisonville were divided by the Civil War. Union supporters joined a regiment recruited locally by James Shackleford; Al Fowler recruited Confederate troops. The courthouse in Madisonville was burned by Confederates led by Gen. Hylan B. Lyon on December 17, 1864, as they passed through western Kentucky. The policies imposed by the occupying Union armies caused resentment and sparked sympathy for the Confederate cause.

Farming was the major occupation in Hopkins County for most of the 1800s, with tobacco the leading crop. Around 1837 an outcropping of coal was discovered and the first coal mine in the county opened in 1869. Mining did not become a major industry until the Louisville & Nashville Railroad pushed its line southward from Henderson through Madisonville and toward Nashville in 1870. By the early 1900s, Madisonville was a rail hub, coal mining center, and had a large tobacco market. This continued until the 1960s when manufacturing and service industries came to the area.

On November 15, 2005, a tornado ripped through the city, destroying some parts of it. The tornado began to form around 3:00 PM. The local Country Club neighborhood was greatly affected by the storm. The home of Madisonville resident and former Boston Celtics star Frank Ramsey was destroyed in the storm. Mayor Karen Cunningham ordered a curfew in parts of the city and declared a state of emergency.

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