kids encyclopedia robot

Laurel County, Kentucky facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Laurel County
Laurel County courthouse in London
Laurel County courthouse in London
Map of Kentucky highlighting Laurel County
Location within the U.S. state of Kentucky
Map of the United States highlighting Kentucky
Kentucky's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Kentucky
Founded December 21, 1825
Named for Mountain laurel trees
Seat London
Largest city London
 • Total 444 sq mi (1,150 km2)
 • Land 434 sq mi (1,120 km2)
 • Water 9.7 sq mi (25 km2)  2.2%
 • Total 62,613 Increase
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 5th

Laurel County is a county located in the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2020 census, the population was 62,613. Its county seat is London. After a special election in January 2016 alcohol sales are permitted only in the city limits of London. The ordinance went into effect on March 27, 2016, 60 days after results of the election. Laurel County is included in the London, KY Micropolitan Statistical Area.


Laurel County, the 80th county to be organized in Kentucky, was established by an act of the general assembly, December 21, 1825, from parts of Rockcastle, Clay, Knox and Whitley Counties. Laurel County was named from the Laurel River, noted for dense laurel thickets along its banks.

Laurel County was the location of the Battle of Wildcat Mountain, a pivotal yet little known battle during the American Civil War that kept Confederate armies from advancing on Big Hill, a major stronghold during the war.

After a fire damaged the courthouse in 1958, a new structure was completed in 1961.

The first Kentucky Fried Chicken was started in Laurel County in Colonel Harland Sanders hometown of North Corbin. Due to the history of chicken in the county, The World Chicken Festival is celebrated every year in Laurel County, drawing crowds of up to 250,000 people over the four-day festival.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 444 square miles (1,150 km2), of which 434 square miles (1,120 km2) is land and 9.7 square miles (25 km2) (2.2%) is water. Part of Laurel River Lake is in Laurel County.

Adjacent counties

National protected area


Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 2,206
1840 3,079 39.6%
1850 4,145 34.6%
1860 5,488 32.4%
1870 6,016 9.6%
1880 9,131 51.8%
1890 13,747 50.6%
1900 17,592 28.0%
1910 19,872 13.0%
1920 19,814 −0.3%
1930 21,109 6.5%
1940 25,640 21.5%
1950 25,797 0.6%
1960 24,901 −3.5%
1970 27,386 10.0%
1980 38,982 42.3%
1990 43,438 11.4%
2000 52,715 21.4%
2010 58,849 11.6%
2020 62,613 6.4%
2021 (est.) 62,561 6.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2021 2019

As of the census of 2020, there were 62,613 people, 22,573 (2015-2019) households, and families residing in the county. The population density was 121 per square mile (47/km2). There were 22,317 housing units at an average density of 51 per square mile (20/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 95.66% White, 1.63% Black or African American, 0.37% Native American, 0.35% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.08% from other races, and 0.90% from two or more races. 0.55% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race.

As of the census of 2010, Laurel County was 97.00% White or European American, 0.3% Native American and 0.7% Black or African American.

There were 20,353 households, out of which 35.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.60% were married couples living together, 11.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.50% were non-families. 21.70% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 2.97.

The age distribution was 25.40% under 18, 9.20% from 18 to 24, 30.40% from 25 to 44, 23.50% from 45 to 64, and 11.50% who were 65 or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $27,015, and the median income for a family was $31,318. Males had a median income of $27,965 versus $19,757 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,165. About 17.80% of families and 21.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.80% of those under age 18 and 20.10% of those age 65 or over.



Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities


Two public school districts serve K-12 students in the county:

  • Laurel County School District — Operates one preschool, 11 elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools.
  • East Bernstadt Independent School District — Operates a single K-8 school. High school students in the district may attend either high school in the Laurel County district.

Notable residents

  • Nationally bestselling author Silas House was born and raised in Laurel County.
  • Former University of Kentucky basketball star Jeff Sheppard who briefly played in the NBA
  • 2000 ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Darrell Scott, who has written hit songs for the Dixie Chicks, Travis Tritt, Brad Paisley, Patty Loveless, and many others, was born in London.
  • Chera-Lyn Cook, the first from Southeast Kentucky to win the title of Miss Kentucky. Cook was talent winner and 4th runner-up to Miss America 1999.
  • Flem D. Sampson, the 42nd governor of the State of Kentucky is from Laurel County.
kids search engine
Laurel County, Kentucky Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.