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Beattyville, Kentucky facts for kids

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Beattyville, Kentucky
Lee County Courthouse in Beattyville
Lee County Courthouse in Beattyville
Location in Lee County, Kentucky
Location in Lee County, Kentucky
Country United States
State Kentucky
County Lee
 • Total 2.30 sq mi (5.97 km2)
 • Land 2.29 sq mi (5.94 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
669 ft (204 m)
 • Total 2,176
 • Density 948.15/sq mi (366.02/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 606 Exchange: 464
FIPS code 21-04546
GNIS feature ID 0510486

Beattyville is a "home rule class" city in Lee County, Kentucky, United States. The city was formally established by the state assembly as "Beatty" in 1851 and incorporated in 1872. It was named for Samuel Beatty, a pioneer settler.

The population was 1,307 at the 2010 census and an estimated 1,206 in 2018. It is the county seat of Lee County.


Beattyville is located at 37°34′38″N 83°42′35″W / 37.57722°N 83.70972°W / 37.57722; -83.70972 (37.577299, -83.709776). It is also located at the confluence of the North, Middle and South Forks of the Kentucky River, which empties into the Ohio River at Carrollton.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.0 square miles (5.2 km2), of which 2.0 square miles (5.2 km2) is land and 0.50% is water.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Beattyville has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 123
1880 146 18.7%
1900 696
1910 1,360 95.4%
1920 1,210 −11.0%
1930 906 −25.1%
1940 1,012 11.7%
1950 1,042 3.0%
1960 1,048 0.6%
1970 923 −11.9%
1980 1,068 15.7%
1990 1,131 5.9%
2000 1,193 5.5%
2010 1,307 9.6%
2020 2,176 66.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,193 people, 509 households, and 294 families residing in the city. The population density was 599.6 people per square mile (231.5/km2). There were 561 housing units at an average density of 282.0 per square mile (108.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 98.99% White, 0.42% African American, 0.42% Asian, and 0.17% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.25% of the population.

There were 509 households, out of which 30.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.8% were married couples living together, 23.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.2% were non-families. 39.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.82.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 23.6% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 22.3% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 24.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 69.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 63.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $12,336, and the median income for a family was $21,181. Males had a median income of $28,125 versus $16,250 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,850. About 39.1% of families and 41.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 48.7% of those under age 18 and 33.0% of those age 65 or over.

In 2010, Beattyville had the third-lowest median household income of all places in the United States with a population over 1,000. It was the poorest majority white town.

Woolly Worm Festival

IC Pyrrharctia isabella caterpillar
Pyrrharctia isabella is the scientific name of the "Woolly Worm" celebrated in the festival

Since 1987, during the third weekend after the first Monday of October, the Main Street of Beattyville is closed to traffic for the annual Woolly Worm Festival. It operates for three days: Friday-"Opening Day", Saturday-"Parade Day", and Sunday "Closing Day" (which also features a large carshow).

The name "Woolly Worm" refers to the Woolly bear caterpillar. The official mascot, "Woolly the Woolly Worm," used as an image on some local merchandise and flyers. A round hay bale caricature of him stands beside the welcome sign to Beattyville.

During the festival, numerous musicians perform almost constantly on one of two stages, and dozens of booths offer a wide variety of merchandise, and delicious foods. Helicopter tours of Beattyville/Lee County are available. The "Woolly Worm Races" are won by coaxing one of these "Hairy Caterpillars" to the top of a string. The first one to reach the top wins, with the only rule being "No Touching"; there is usually a cash prize for the winner.

The Woolly Worm Festival continues as a popular event attracting numerous tourists. Beattyville is a few minutes from Natural Bridge State Resort Park, another tourist destination. Visitors enjoy the "small-town atmosphere."


Beattyville is served by Kentucky Utilities, while much of Lee County is served by Jackson Energy, based in McKee, Kentucky that serves south-central Kentucky. Licking Valley RECC serves Northern Lee County. Natural Gas is served by Columbia Gas of Kentucky and Delta Natural Gas Company. Two Water Services exist, Beattyville Water Works, serving the city and most of the county and Southside Water Association serving the southern and east parts of Lee County.


The town's economy used to be based on coal mining, but this industry has pulled out of the area.

In the 21st century, major employers in Beattyville and Lee County include:

  • Three Forks Regional Jail (multi-county jail serving the east-central area of Kentucky, including Powell, Wolfe, Owsley, and Breathitt counties)
  • ACS, Affiliated Computer Systems (data and transaction processing)
  • Lee County Public Schools, the largest employer in Beattyville
  • Lee County Wood Products (sawmill)
  • Kentucky River Community Care (mental health facility serving the east Kentucky region)
  • People's Exchange Bank. Previously, the bank had its headquarters and two locations in Beattyville. The bank closed its downtown branch and moved its headquarters to Winchester, keeping one branch open in Beattyville.
  • Experience Works, Inc (non-profit organization and largest national grantee of Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) funds from the U.S. Department of Labor)
  • Lee County Care and Rehabilitation Center (nursing Facility with a 120-bed capacity)

The Lee Adjustment Center was constructed here and operated by Corrections Corporation of America as a private, for-profit, medium security prison, with a capacity of 800 inmates. The county hoped to provide jobs for local people at the prison. CCA had contracts with the states of Kentucky and Vermont to house prisoners here. Vermont prisoners rioted in 2004 and were joined by Kentucky prisoners. Kentucky removed its last inmates in 2010, and ended its contract with a CCA in 2013. Vermont removed its inmates in 2015. In November 2017, due to overcrowding at state owned facilities, the Kentucky Department of Corrections signed a new contract allowing CCA, now known as CoreCivic, to reactivate the vacant prison. These inmates would be transferred from the Kentucky State Reformatory in LaGrange. The prison reopened and began accepting inmates in March 2018.


Beattyville is served by the Lee County School District. Schools serving Beattyville include:

  • Lee County Elementary School (Unincorporated area)
  • Lee County Middle School
  • Lee County High School
  • Lee County Area Technology Center
  • Lee County Alternative Education School

There is also a Board of Education and Central Office Complex building. The schools have consistently ranked in the top half of all the schools in the state.

The Lee County Board of Education has announced plans to close Beattyville Elementary and transfer the students to Southside Elementary. To accommodate the influx of students, an expansion of the facilities at Southside will be required. The decision was not popular with residents of the community The Board of Education exhausted its bonding capacity to fund the addition to Southside, so it proposed a tax increase in 2013 to fund other repairs at other facilities. Residents of the county signed a petition to place the tax increase on the ballot. The school board decided to delay the implementation of the tax until 2014 so as not to have to pay approximately $20,000 to fund a special election. The school board passed the tax in 2014 and again, a petition was filed placing the matter on the ballot for the fall 2014 general election. The proposed tax increase was defeated by a large margin at the polls.

Two private schools serve the area as well: Beattyville Christian Academy and Grace Baptist Academy.

Higher education

There are no higher education opportunities in Beattyville or Lee County. A number of technical colleges and universities are located within a 60-mile (100 km) drive.

  • Hazard Community and Technical College, Lees College Campus, 18 miles
  • Kentucky Mountain Bible College, 24 miles
  • Berea College, 53 miles
  • Eastern Kentucky University, 45 miles
  • National College, Richmond Branch, 45 miles

Public library

Beattyville has a lending library, the Lee County Public Library.

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