Middlesboro, Kentucky

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Middlesboro, also spelled Middlesborough, is a city in Bell County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 10,384 at the 2000 census.[1] The estimated July 1, 2009 population of the city is 9,835.[2] The entire micropolitan area has a population of 30,060 (as of 2000 census)[3] which includes all of Bell County. It is the principal city of the Middlesborough, KY Micropolitan Statistical Area. Middlesboro is the largest city in Southeast Kentucky.[4]

The city was incorporated in 1890 as "Middlesborough", named after the town of Middlesbrough on the south bank of the River Tees in what was then the North Riding of Yorkshire, England. The U.S. Post Office began using the spelling "Middlesboro" in 1894.[5] Both spellings are used interchangeably; for example, the city's school district uses the Middlesboro spelling,[6] as does the Kentucky Secretary of State's Land Office.[7]

The city is located on the Kentucky side of the Cumberland Gap near Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

As the coal industry has declined over the last several years, the area has been increasingly hopeful for a growth in tourism, primarily from the nearby national park. Pine Mountain State Resort Park is also located in nearby Pineville.

The town is home to Middlesboro Country Club. Founded in 1889, the 9-hole course is one of the oldest golf courses in the country. The club also claims to be the oldest continuously played course in the nation. Pianist Ben Harney originated ragtime music in Middlesboro in the early 1890s, inspired by the fusion of African-American and local music styles heard in the community's saloons.[8]

Geologists believe that the Middlesboro basin between Pine Mountain and the Cumberland Mountains is the remains of an ancient meteorite crater, which would give the town the rare distinction of being one of the few cities in the world completely built inside a crater. The crater is one of three known astroblemes in the state.

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