11 Most Endangered Historic Places
Year Listed: 2010
Location: Lynch & Benham, Kentucky
Threat: Energy Development
Nestled at the base of Eastern Kentucky's rugged Black Mountain, the highest peak in the Bluegrass State, two historic mining towns are working hard to define a future beyond coal.
The town of Benham, population 500, was founded by International Harvester in 1911; nearby Lynch, population 900, was created by U.S. Coal and Coke Company in 1917. During the coal industry's heyday in the 1940's, Benham and Lynch were booming company towns whose prosperity was fueled by thousands of immigrant laborers.
When coal mining began to decline here decades ago, residents worked hard to reinvent their communities, renovating a historic schoolhouse, theater and jail and creating a well-respected mining museum and exhibition coal mine with underground rail tours. Both Benham and Lynch have made significant progress in developing heritage tourism sites, revitalizing their main streets and welcoming visitors eager for an authentic coal country experience.