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Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Hopkinsville First Presbyterian Church
Hopkinsville First Presbyterian Church
Location of Hopkinsville in Christian County, Kentucky.
Location of Hopkinsville in Christian County, Kentucky.
Country United States
State Kentucky
County Christian
Established 1804
Incorporated 1853
Named for United States Representative Samuel Hopkins
 • Total 31.96 sq mi (82.79 km2)
 • Land 31.83 sq mi (82.44 km2)
 • Water 0.14 sq mi (0.35 km2)
528 ft (161 m)
 • Total 31,180
 • Density 979.61/sq mi (378.23/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 270 & 364
FIPS code 21-37918
GNIS feature ID 0494550

Hopkinsville is a home rule-class city in and the county seat of Christian County, Kentucky, United States. The population at the 2010 census was 31,577.


Early years

The area of present-day Hopkinsville was initially claimed in 1796 by Bartholomew Wood as part of a 1,200-acre (5 km2) grant for his service in the American Revolution. He and his wife Martha Ann moved from Jonesborough, Tennessee, first to a cabin near present-day W. Seventh and Bethel streets; then to a second cabin near present-day 9th and Virginia streets; and finally to a third home near 14th and Campbell.

Following the creation of Christian County the same year, the Woods donated 5 acres (20,000 m2) of land and a half interest in their Old Rock Spring to form its seat of government in 1797. By 1798, a log courthouse, jail, and "stray pen" had been built; the next year, John Campbell and Samuel Means laid out the streets for "Christian Court House". The community tried to rename itself "Elizabeth" after the Woods' eldest daughter, but another town in Hardin County preëmpted the name, and the Kentucky Assembly established the town in 1804 as "Hopkinsville" after veteran and state representative Samuel Hopkins of Henderson County (later the namesake of Hopkins County as well).

Along with the rest of Kentucky, the town was late in establishing free lower education, but natives organized private schools, and the town was the home of South Kentucky College (est. 1849) and Bethel Female College (est. 1854).

Civil War

The Civil War generated major divisions in Christian County. Confederate support in Hopkinsville and Christian County was evident in the formation of the "Oak Grove Rangers" and the 28th Kentucky Cavalry. Christian County was then the birthplace of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, though his birthplace is now part of Todd County, Kentucky. Several local businessmen and plantation owners contributed money and war supplies to the South. After Confederate forces retreated to Tennessee, however, Camp Joe Anderson was established by the Union to the northwest of Hopkinsville in 1862. Men who trained there became members of the 35th Kentucky Cavalry, the 25th Kentucky Infantry, and the 35th Kentucky Infantry. Gen. James S. Jackson had been a Hopkinsville attorney before the war and was killed in service to the Union at the Battle of Perryville in October 1862. Private citizens who supported the Union cause provided the army with mules, wagons, clothing, and food.

Hopkinsville changed hands at least half a dozen times, being occupied in turn by Confederate and Union forces. In December 1864, Confederate troops under Gen. Hylan B. Lyon captured the town and burned the Christian County courthouse, then being used by the Union army as a barracks. Another skirmish between Union and Confederate forces took place in the field opposite Western State Hospital near the end of the war.

Black Patch tobacco

The Evansville, Henderson, and Nashville Railroad was the first to connect the city in 1868. In 1879, it was purchased by the L&N. The Ohio Valley Railroad (later purchased by the Illinois Southern) reached the city in 1892, as did the Tennessee Central in 1903.

The tobacco from the Black Patch region was highly desired in Europe. In 1904, tobacco planters formed the Dark Tobacco District Planters' Protective Association of Kentucky and Tennessee in opposition to a corporate monopoly by the American Tobacco Company (ATC) owned by James B. Duke. The ATC used their monopoly power to reduce the prices they paid to farmers; the planters' association aimed to organize a boycott of sales to drive the price back up. Many farmers continued to sell independently or secretly, however, prompting the association to form a "Silent Brigade" to pressure such farmers into compliance. With societal pressure seeming to fail, the Silent Brigade (probably under Dr. David A. Amoss) organized the Night Riders (not to be confused with the Ku Klux Klan) to terrorize farmers into submission.

On December 7, 1907, 250 masked Night Riders seized Hopkinsville's police station and cut all outside contact. They pursued tobacco executives who bought tobacco from farmers who were not members of the Dark Tobacco District Planters' Protective Association and city officials who aided them. Three warehouses were burned, one of whose sites became Peace Park.

2006 tornado

On April 2, 2006, an F3 tornado swept through parts of Hopkinsville. In the storm, 200 homes were damaged and 28 people were injured. In addition, structural damage was reported to dozens of other businesses, along with countless trees, power lines, transmission towers and other structures, cutting electricity to the city of Hopkinsville. A gas line was also damaged, causing a gas leak.


Hopkinsville is located south of the center of Christian County at 36°51′17″N 87°29′20″W / 36.85472°N 87.48889°W / 36.85472; -87.48889 (36.854712, -87.488872). Madisonville is 35 miles (56 km) to the north, Russellville is 35 miles (56 km) to the east, and Clarksville, Tennessee, is 26 miles (42 km) to the south.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Hopkinsville has a total area of 30.8 square miles (79.8 km2), of which 30.6 square miles (79.3 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 0.44%, is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 131
1830 1,263
1840 1,581 25.2%
1860 2,289
1870 3,136 37.0%
1880 4,229 34.9%
1890 5,833 37.9%
1900 7,280 24.8%
1910 9,419 29.4%
1920 9,696 2.9%
1930 10,746 10.8%
1940 11,724 9.1%
1950 12,526 6.8%
1960 19,465 55.4%
1970 21,395 9.9%
1980 27,318 27.7%
1990 29,809 9.1%
2000 30,089 0.9%
2010 31,577 4.9%
2020 31,180 −1.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 31,577 people, 12,600 households and 14,318 housing units in the city of Hopkinsville. The racial makeup of the city was 62.6% White, 31.9% African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3.5% from Hispanic or Latino origin, 61.1% White persons not Hispanic (U.S. Census), and 2.5% from two or more races.

There were 12,174 households, out of which 32.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.1% were married couples living together, 18.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.3% were non-families. 29.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 26.4% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,419, and the median income for a family was $37,598. Males had a median income of $30,349 versus $21,259 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,796. About 13.6% of families and 16.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.6% of those under age 18 and 13.7% of those age 65 or over.

Clarksville MSA

Hopkinsville is part of the Clarksville, TN–KY Metropolitan Statistical Area. Clarksville lies approximately 15 miles (24 km) to the south of Hopkinsville. Prior to 2003, the area was officially known as the Clarksville-Hopkinsville Metropolitan Statistical Area and included only Montgomery and Christian counties. In 2003, Hopkinsville was removed from the official name as it was no longer considered a principal city. That year, Stewart and Trigg counties were also added to the MSA. The four-county metropolitan area had a population of 232,000 in 2000. A July 1, 2007 estimate placed the population at 261,816. As of 2007, the Clarksville Metropolitan Statistical Area is the 169th largest MSA in the United States.



Hopkinsville is intersected by US 41, US 41A, US 68, US 68 Bypass, and the Interstate 169 (formerly Pennyrile Parkway). A four-lane bypass almost completely circles the city. The Southern portion of the bypass is the route for US 68 Bypass. Congressional funding approved for an extension of the Pennyrile Parkway (now I-169) to Interstate 24 in southern Christian County near Fort Campbell. Construction was completed in three phases. Phase One took the parkway to the US 68 bypass. Phase Two extended it to Lover's Lane. Phase Three, completed in late 2010 but not opened until early 2011, extended the parkway to meet I-24.


All commercial air traffic for residents and visitors to Hopkinsville use Nashville International Airport. Hopkinsville is served by the Hopkinsville-Christian County Airport, a general aviation airport with one 5,502-foot (1,700 m) runway.


Railroad construction and operation in the late 1860s opened markets for agricultural and industrial products. Railroad service was inaugurated in Hopkinsville on April 8, 1868, by the Evansville, Henderson, & Nashville Railroad. This line was later extended north to Henderson and was acquired by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (now CSX Transportation) in 1879. The Ohio Valley Railroad, purchased by the Illinois Central Railroad (now Illinois Central Gulf) in 1897, was built from Gracey to Hopkinsville in 1892 and abandoned in the 1980s. In 1903, the western division of the Tennessee Central Railway entered Christian County at Edgoten (Edge-of-Tennessee), connecting Clarksville and Hopkinsville. In 1990 the Hopkinsville-Fort Campbell portion was operated by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Attractions and points of interest

Hopkinsville was a stop along the Trail of Tears, and a park along 9th Street on the Little River commemorates this history. Every September, the Trail of Tears Indian Pow-Wow comes to town to Trail of Tears Park. There is a museum and a burial ground, including two important Cherokee leaders who died during the removal - Fly Smith and Whitepath, along with several large osage orange trees in it and dream catchers hanging from the wrought iron fence. There is also a sunken amphitheater. A group of plaques commemorate the great uprooting and journey, and its devastating effect upon the Cherokee people. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Pennyroyal Area Museum, located in the old post office building downtown, has exhibits on the history of Hopkinsville and the Pennyrile region. The Pennyroyal Area Museum is owned and funded by the city of Hopkinsville and was established to perpetuate the heritage of southwestern Kentucky's rich history. In 1974, the city of Hopkinsville acquired the old Post Office building from the U.S. government for use as an educational museum. The Pennyroyal Area Museum was established in October 1975, and opened on July 8, 1976. Its board and staff maintain a wide range of activities in its endeavor to preserve and interpret the past. Area citizens have contributed important roles in the Kentucky tradition from the post revolution era to the present. Historical in scope, the museum attempts to portray the development of the nine county Pennyrile region. Exhibits include the night riders of the Black Patch Tobacco Wars; Edgar Cayce, famed local clairvoyant; Jefferson Davis; period room settings; a pioneer bedroom; a miniature circus; antique quilts; black history; historic modes of transportation; as well as historical license plates from Kentucky.

Every May, Hopkinsville hosts Little River Days, a two-day family fun festival featuring road running, canoe racing, a bicycle tour, arts and crafts, food vendors and live entertainment. All activities take place at Merchant Park in downtown Hopkinsville.

During the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, Hopkinsville will be the closest metropolitan area to the expected point of greatest eclipse, which will occur about 12 miles (19 km) northwest of the city center.

In the opening of the horror-comedy film Attack of the Killer Tomatoes it incorrectly states that the town was besieged by millions of birds in 1975, recalling the classic horror film The Birds.

The city is also known for the Kelly–Hopkinsville encounter, "a series of connected incidents of alleged close encounters with supposed extraterrestrial beings."


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


In 2012 the Ohio Valley League added the Hoptown Hoppers. They're named after the former Hoppers who played in the K.I.T. league until the mid-1970s.


Public schools

Hopkinsville is part of the Christian County Public School system. There are ten elementary schools serving preschoolers through sixth graders, two middle schools serving seventh and eighth graders, and two high schools serving ninth through twelfth graders located within the Christian County limits as follows:

  • Bluegrass Learning Academy 6-12 grades
  • Crofton Elementary School (address: Crofton, )
  • Indian Hills Elementary School
  • Freedom Elementary School
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School
  • Millbrooke Elementary School
  • Pembroke Elementary School (address: Pembroke, KY)
  • Sinking Fork Elementary School
  • South Christian Elementary School (address: Herndon, KY)
  • Hopkinsville Middle School
  • Christian County Middle School
  • Christian County High School
  • Hopkinsville High School

Private schools

There are three private schools in Hopkinsville:

  • Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School, a Catholic school serving students from preschool through eighth grade.
  • University Heights Academy, a college preparatory school serving students from preschool through twelfth grade.
  • Heritage Christian Academy, a college preparatory Christian school serving students from preschool through twelfth grade.


Hopkinsville has a lending library, the Hopkinsville-Christian County Public Library.

Hopkinsville Carnegie Library The Hopkinsville Carnegie Library was opened in 1914. It served the community until 1977, then sat vacant until restoration was begun in 2007. Currently the restoration is 2/3 complete, and the ground floor is now open and available for rent as an event space. The exterior has been completely restored.

Notable people

  • Bird Averitt, former NBA and ABA guard
  • Lane McCray, International recording artist, La Bouche
  • Ned Breathitt, former governor of Kentucky
  • Harry Buckner, baseball pitcher and outfielder in the Negro leagues
  • Edgar Cayce, (1877–1945) an American Christian mystic and psychic.
  • Jerry Claiborne, former college football coach for the Kentucky Wildcats
  • Edward M. Coffman, military historian
  • John Miller Cooper, pioneer of kinesiology
  • Tony Crunk, winner of the Yale Younger Poet prize
  • Logan Feland, United States Marine Corps Major General
  • Bettiola Heloise Fortson, (1890–1917) a poet, civil rights activist, suffragist.
  • Steve Gorman, drummer for The Black Crowes
  • Yvonne Gregory, toured with Glenn Miller Band and art teacher in Hopkinsville schools
  • Asbury Harpending, financier and adventurer
  • bell hooks, social activist
  • Larry Jones, thoroughbred racing trainer since 1982, former commercial farmer
  • Mac King, comedic magician
  • Margaret Rose Knight, First Lady of North Carolina
  • Brice Long, country music artist
  • Riccardo Martin, operatic tenor
  • Teresa Medeiros, award-winning romance novelist
  • Doug Moseley, former member of the Kentucky State Senate; youth pastor at First United Methodist Church in Hopkinsville from 1948 to 1949
  • Artose Pinner, NFL running back
  • Christine Johnson Smith, opera singer and Tony Award-nominated Broadway actress
  • Lynn Starling, screenwriter and playwright
  • Keith Tandy, NFL safety
  • Thomas R. Underwood, former congressman and U.S. senator
  • Ed Whitfield, former congressman
  • Chris Whitney, former NBA point guard
  • Moe Williams, NFL running back, thoroughbred owner and trainer, (b.1980)
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