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Muhlenberg County, Kentucky facts for kids

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Muhlenberg County
Muhlenberg County Courthouse in Greenville
Muhlenberg County Courthouse in Greenville
Map of Kentucky highlighting Muhlenberg 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 1798
Named for Peter Muhlenberg
Seat Greenville
Largest city Central City
 • Total 479 sq mi (1,240 km2)
 • Land 467 sq mi (1,210 km2)
 • Water 12 sq mi (30 km2)  2.6%
 • Total 30,928 Decrease
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 1st

Muhlenberg County is a county in the U.S. Commonwealth of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 31,499. Its county seat is Greenville.


Muhlenberg County was established in 1798 from land given by Logan and Christian counties. Muhlenberg was the 34th Kentucky county in order of formation.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 479 square miles (1,240 km2), of which 467 square miles (1,210 km2) is land and 12 square miles (31 km2) (2.6%) is water.


The two primary aquatic features of Muhlenberg County are the Green River and Lake Malone. The northern portion of the county is typically gently rolling hills, river flatlands, and some sizeable bald cypress swamps along Cypress Creek and its tributaries. The southern portion consist of rolling hills with higher relief. Many of the valleys in the southern part of the county are rather deep and in places and somewhat rugged. This area is also known for many sandstone formations and some small limestone caves, of which only two known limestone caves are thought to be in the county, both in the far southern region. A number of faults cross the county at roughly the half-way point between neighboring counties to the north and south. Coal is a large natural resource found in the central part of the county. Most deposits reside deep underground, though in the past deposits were closer to the surface. In former years, it was common to see machines such as the "Big Brother" Power Shovel (pictured on the right) throughout the county. During the 1970s and early 1980s, Muhlenberg County was the state leader in Coal Production and sometimes the top coal producer in the United States. This was the subject of the song "Paradise".

The Bucyrus Erie 3850-B Power Shovel named "Big Brother" went to work next door to Paradise Fossil Plant for Peabody Coal Company's Sinclair Surface Mine in 1962. When it started work it was received with grand fanfare and was the Largest Shovel in The World with a bucket size of 115 cubic yards. After it finished work in the mid-1980s, it was buried in a pit on the mine's property. It remains there still today.

Muhlenberg County's predominate rock type is sandstone. As one travels south and gets closer to the southern border, one begins to notice limestone outcroppings become more numerous and much closer to the surface. Early attempts at extracting iron ore were tried at Old Airdrie on the banks of the Green River and at Buckner Furnace south of Greenville, Kentucky. Both operations were extant in the late 19th century and early 20th century; neither enjoyed long-term success..

Green River

The 300 miles (483 km)-long Green River is a tributary of the Ohio River. It provides a commercial outlet for goods (primarily coal) to be shipped from the county to the major trade centers along the Mississippi River. Muhlenberg County and the Green River first entered the popular consciousness through the John Prine song "Paradise", about a now-defunct coal-mining town.

Lake Malone

Spanning 788 acres (3.19 km2) near the small town of Dunmor in southern Muhlenberg County, Lake Malone provides a locale for water recreation such as swimming, boating, and fishing. Lake Malone and the surrounding hardwood forest form Lake Malone State Park. Lake Malone is maintained by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. The lakes surface extends into two neighboring counties. The lake is known for its sandstone cliffs and natural sandstone formations along the lake shore including a natural bridge. The bridge itself is not in the boundaries of the state park.

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 1,293
1810 4,181 223.4%
1820 4,979 19.1%
1830 5,340 7.3%
1840 6,964 30.4%
1850 9,809 40.9%
1860 10,725 9.3%
1870 12,638 17.8%
1880 15,098 19.5%
1890 17,955 18.9%
1900 20,741 15.5%
1910 28,598 37.9%
1920 33,353 16.6%
1930 37,784 13.3%
1940 37,554 −0.6%
1950 32,501 −13.5%
1960 27,791 −14.5%
1970 27,537 −0.9%
1980 32,238 17.1%
1990 31,318 −2.9%
2000 31,839 1.7%
2010 31,499 −1.1%
2020 30,928 −1.8%
2021 (est.) 30,694 −2.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2021

As of the census of 2010, there were 31,499 people, 12,979 households, and 9,057 families residing in the county. The population density was 67 per square mile (26/km2). There were 13,675 housing units at an average density of 29 per square mile (11/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 94.19% White, 4.65% Black or African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.13% Asian, 0.19% from other races, and 0.72% from two or more races. 0.73% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The median income for a household in the county was $28,566. 15.50% of families and 19.70% of the population was below the poverty line, including 26.00% of those under age 18 and 17.00% of those age 65 or over.

Sites of interest

  • Lake Malone State Park in Dunmor
  • Muhlenberg County Rail to Trails, 6-mile (9.7 km) converted railroad track running between Central City and Greenville
  • Brewco Motorsports shop in Central City
  • Thistle Cottage, a museum and art gallery, in Greenville (now part of Muhlenberg County Public Libraries)
  • Four Legends Fountain in Drakesboro
  • Muhlenberg County Agriculture and Convention Center in Powderly
  • Morgan Memorial Park in Greenville
  • The Muhlenberg County Park, a state-of-the-art sports facility adjacent to the Muhlenberg County High School west campus in Greenville
  • The Brizendine Brothers Nature Park located in Greenville
  • Luzerne Lake City Park in Greenville
  • Paradise Park in Powderly, includes:
    • Coal Mines Shotgun House
    • Merle Travis Birthplace
    • Paradise Park Museum
    • Springridge School
  • Tennessee Valley Authority Paradise Fossil Plant in Drakesboro, one of the largest Coal-Fired Power Plants in the United States. Site includes:
    • Public Boat Launch Ramp along the Green River
    • Public Fishing Lakes
    • Historic Village of Paradise Cemetery, the only remnant of the village along the Green River.

Central City Convention Center, Fitness Facility and Outdoor Pool & Spray Park located in Central City, Kentucky

  • Muhlenberg County Courthouse, built in 1907 located in downtown Greenville
  • The Muhlenberg County Veterans Mall and Plaza in downtown Greenville
  • Lt. Ephraim Brank Memorial & Trail located in located at the entrance to Greenville's Veteran's Mall
  • The Pillars of Community have enhanced the beauty of downtown Greenvile by adding "Art to Restoration". The locations include:
    • FAITH - United Methodist Church on North Main Street
    • FAMILY - Across from the MCTI Theater on North Main Street
    • ENTERPRISE - Between Edward Jones Investments & 1st KY Bank
    • PATRIOTISM - At the United States Post Office on Courts Street
    • EDUCATION - In front of Greenville Elementary School on East Main Cross
    • ARTS - In front of Thistle Cottage on Cherry Street
    • HEALTH - In front of Muhlenberg Community Hospital
    • TEAMWORK - At Martin Ground along East Main Cross
  • Historic Gristmill Stone, Adjacent to the Veterans Mall and at the foundation of the Muhlenberg County Courthouse
  • The Summerhouse, a gazebo located in Greenville

Annual events

  • Rods and Ribs BBQ Festival in Central City the first Saturday in June.
  • Labor Day Cruise-In in Central City.
  • Saturday's on the Square every summer in downtown Greenville.
  • Squash & Gobble an arts bazaar and fall festival in downtown Greenville.
  • The "Clodhopper" Vintage Tractor Show in downtown Greenville.



Census-designated places

Other unincorporated places


Paradise Combined Cycle Plant sits close to the original site of the village of Paradise, Kentucky. Originally a coal-fired plant, the plant was the second largest coal-fired plant operated by TVA with a capacity of 2,630 megawatts. The plant now burns natural gas, and has a capacity of 1,025 MW.

Muhlenberg County has been a major coal-producing region for the United States for many years; during most of the 1970s, Muhlenberg County annually produced more coal than anywhere else in the country. Although coal mining in the county waned in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as the 21st century began, the coal-mining industry in Muhlenberg and surrounding counties began to expand and has once again provided a significant number of jobs in the region. One reason for this is the willingness of utility operators to install flue gas cleaning systems so that bituminous coal can be burned with fewer airborne contaminants. Another reason is that most coal from the western US has a lower BTU content.

Muhlenberg County held Kentucky's first commercial coal mine, opened in 1820 as the "McLean Drift Bank" along the Green River in the former village of Paradise. The mine and its impact on the community are referenced in the John Prine song "Paradise". Other major employers in Muhlenberg County include:

  • The Tennessee Valley Authority Paradise Combined Cycle Plant in Drakesboro
  • The Green River Correctional Complex in Central City
  • Dyno Nobel in Graham
  • EBA&D in Graham
  • Muhlenberg Community Hospital in Greenville
  • Muhlenberg County Board of Education in Powderly
  • Kentucky National Guard Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center & Kentucky UTES
  • Armstrong Coal Company in Central City
  • Ken-American Resources: Paradise Underground Mine in Central City
  • Kentucky Utilities Green River Generating Station in Central City
  • Wal-Mart in Central City.
  • Uncle Lee's / Wing Supply in Greenville, Kentucky
  • Gourmet Express in Greenville

Chamber of commerce

In January 2006, the chambers of commerce from Central City and Greenville merged to form the Greater Muhlenberg Chamber of Commerce representing over 155 local businesses.

Incoming industries

Peabody Energy's proposed Thoroughbred Energy Plant, a coal-burning power generation facility expected to bring 450 permanent jobs to the area, was to be located in Central City. The plant was projected to begin electricity generation in 2007, but a dispute over Peabody's air quality permit halted construction plans. The power plant plans have now been scrapped, as was a later partnership between Peabody Energy and ConocoPhillips Oil Company called "Kentucky NewGas".



Public schools in Muhlenberg County are operated by the Muhlenberg County Board of Education. They include:

Elementary (K-5)

  • Bremen Elementary School in Bremen
  • Central City Elementary School in Central City
  • Greenville Elementary School in Greenville
  • Longest Elementary School in Powderly
  • Muhlenberg South Elementary School in Beechmont

Middle (6-8)

  • Muhlenberg North Middle School in Powderly
  • Muhlenberg South Middle School in Greenville

High (9-12)

  • Muhlenberg County High School in Greenville.


  • Muhlenberg Campus of Madisonville Community College (Central City)
  • Muhlenberg Career Development Center (between Central City & Greenville)

Former schools

  • Drakesboro Elementary School in Drakesboro (closed in 2006)
  • Graham Elementary School in Graham (closed in 2004)
  • Hughes-Kirkpatrick Elementary School in Beechmont (closed in 2006)
  • Lake Malone Elementary School in Dunmor (closed in 2005)
  • Muhlenberg North High School (closed in 2009)
  • Muhlenberg South High School (closed in 2009)


  • Harbin Memorial Library in Greenville is a public library, with free access to high-speed internet
  • Central City Library in Central City is a public library, with free access to high-speed internet.

These libraries are operated as Muhlenberg County Public Libraries.

Thistle Cottage Genealogy and History Annex in Greenville also operates under the umbrella of Muhlenberg County Public Libraries as a museum and history archive.

History of education

At one time the county hosted eight secondary schools. Drakesboro Community closed after the class of 1964 graduated and in 1990, the school board consolidated the middle and high school students into two middle and two high schools. Bremen High School, Central City High School, Graham High School, and half of Muhlenberg Central High School became Muhlenberg North Middle School and Muhlenberg North High School, while the other half of Muhlenberg Central High School, Drakesboro High School, Hughes-Kirkpatrick High School, Greenville High School, and Lake Malone School (which housed some middle school students) became Muhlenberg South Middle School and Muhlenberg South High School. The eight distinct schools continued to house elementary school students.

In 2004, the school board began consolidating the elementary schools, closing Graham Elementary School and transferring students to Longest Elementary Greenville Elementary Schools; closing Lake Malone School and transferring students to Hughes-Kirkpatrick Elementary School. In 2005 Drakesboro Elementary School was closed, with students first attending Hughes-Kirkpatrick Elementary and then Muhlenberg South Elementary School (2006). Hughes-Kirkpatrick was later closed.

Muhlenberg North and Muhlenberg South High Schools were merged into a single Muhlenberg County High School in June 2009.

Notable people

  • James Best (Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane of the Dukes of Hazzard), born in Powderly
  • Don Everly of The Everly Brothers singing duo, born in now-defunct Brownie, near Central City
  • Kennedy Jones, guitarist
  • Warren Oates, actor, born in Depoy near Greenville
  • Merle Travis, western musician, born in Rosewood
  • Roger Newman, University of Kentucky men's basketball player, born in Greenville
  • Benjamin Tod (Lost Dog Street Band), singer and songwriter
  • John Prine wrote the song Paradise from his first self-titled album about growing up in Muhlenberg County in the now defunct mining town of Paradise. The song has become a folk music staple since then.

See also

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

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