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McCracken County, Kentucky facts for kids

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McCracken County
McCracken County courthouse in Paducah
McCracken County courthouse in Paducah
Map of Kentucky highlighting McCracken 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 1825
Named for Virgil McCracken
Seat Paducah
Largest city Paducah
 • Total 268 sq mi (690 km2)
 • Land 249 sq mi (640 km2)
 • Water 19 sq mi (50 km2)  7.2%
 • Total 67,875 Increase
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 1st

McCracken County is a county located in the far western portion of U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2020 census, the population was 67,875. The county seat and only municipality is Paducah. McCracken County was the 78th county formed in the state, having been created in 1825. It is part of the historic Jackson Purchase, territory sold by the Chickasaw people to General Andrew Jackson and Governor Isaac Shelby; this territory was located at the extreme western end of Kentucky.

Paducah developed based on its "River and Rail" traffic. Steamboats, barges, and the Illinois Central Railroad were the basis of the economy into the late 20th century. In the 1920s, the Illinois Central built the largest operating and maintenance base in the world here.

In the 21st century, McCracken County is part of the Paducah, KY-IL Micropolitan Statistical Area.


McCracken County was founded in 1825, from Hickman County and was named for Captain Virgil McCracken of Woodford County, Kentucky, who was killed in the Battle of Frenchtown in southeastern Michigan during the War of 1812.

The Battle of Paducah occurred in McCracken County on March 25, 1864. The skirmish between the Union and Confederate troops ended in a Confederate victory. Altogether 140 men fell in the battle.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 268 square miles (690 km2), of which 249 square miles (640 km2) is land and 19 square miles (49 km2) (7.2%) is water. The county's northern border with Illinois is formed by the Ohio River, and its northeastern border by the Tennessee River.

Adjacent counties

National protected area

  • Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge (part)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 1,297
1840 4,745 265.8%
1850 6,067 27.9%
1860 10,360 70.8%
1870 13,988 35.0%
1880 16,262 16.3%
1890 21,051 29.4%
1900 28,733 36.5%
1910 35,064 22.0%
1920 37,246 6.2%
1930 46,271 24.2%
1940 48,534 4.9%
1950 49,137 1.2%
1960 57,306 16.6%
1970 58,281 1.7%
1980 61,310 5.2%
1990 62,879 2.6%
2000 65,514 4.2%
2010 65,565 0.1%
2020 67,875 3.5%
2021 (est.) 67,454 2.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2021

As of the census of 2000, there were 65,514 people, 27,736 households, and 18,444 families residing in the county. The population density was 261 per square mile (101/km2). There were 30,361 housing units at an average density of 121 per square mile (47/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 86.76% White, 10.88% Black or African American, 0.22% Native American, 0.51% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.40% from other races, and 1.18% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.06% of the population.

There were 27,736 households, out of which 29.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.10% were married couples living together, 12.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.50% were non-families. 29.70% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 23.40% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 28.10% from 25 to 44, 24.70% from 45 to 64, and 15.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $33,865, and the median income for a family was $42,513. Males had a median income of $36,417 versus $22,704 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,533. About 11.40% of families and 15.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.90% of those under age 18 and 12.30% of those age 65 or over.



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


Public elementary and secondary education in the county is provided by two school districts:

  • McCracken County Public Schools, which serves the entire county except for the bulk of the city of Paducah, served by:
  • Paducah Public Schools

Several private schools also provide K-12 education. These institutions include the St. Mary System and Community Christian Academy.

Higher education is provided by West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Like all other schools in this system, WKCTC offers associate degrees. The state's largest public university, the University of Kentucky, operates a branch campus of its College of Engineering at WKCTC. Murray State University offers bachelor's degree programs and master's degrees. A new 43,000 square foot facility located on a 23-acre campus adjacent to WKCTC was opened in 2014. In addition, Lindsey Wilson College offers a human services degree at WKCTC and McKendree University operates a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de McCracken para niños

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