Muhlenberg County, Kentucky

Muhlenberg County, Kentucky

Muhlenberg County Courthouse in Greenville
Map of Kentucky highlighting Muhlenberg County
Location in the U.S. state of Kentucky
Map of the United States highlighting Kentucky
Kentucky's location in the U.S.
Founded 1798
Named for John Peter Muhlenberg
Seat Greenville
Largest city Central City
  Total 479 sq mi (1,241 km2)
  Land 467 sq mi (1,210 km2)
  Water 12 sq mi (31 km2), 2.6%
  (2010) 31,839
  Density 67/sq mi (26/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Muhlenberg County (/ˈmjuːlənbərɡ/) is a county located in the U.S. Commonwealth of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 31,499.[1] Its county seat is Greenville.[2] The county was founded in 1798[3] and named for General Peter Muhlenberg, a colonial general during the American Revolutionary War.[4]


Muhlenberg County was established in 1798 from land given by Logan and Christian counties. Muhlenberg was the 34th Kentucky county in order of formation.[5]


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.[6]


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.
Est. 201531,183[7]−1.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
1790-1960[9] 1900-1990[10]
1990-2000[11] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census[12] 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.

There were 12,979 households out of which 30.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.70% were married couples living together, 10.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.70% were non-families. 24.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the county the population was spread out with 22.60% under the age of 18, 9.20% from 18 to 24, 28.00% from 25 to 44, 24.80% from 45 to 64, and 15.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 98.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,566, and the median income for a family was $33,513. Males had a median income of $29,952 versus $18,485 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,798. About 15.50% of families and 19.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.00% of those under age 18 and 17.00% of those age 65 or over.


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 world. 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 again 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 much cleaner than in decades past. Another reason is that most coal from the western US has a lower BTU content.

Muhlenberg County is the home of Kentucky's first commercial coal mine. That mine opened in 1820 as the "McLean Drift Bank". It was located 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 have supplemented the coal industry or expanded in other areas of expertise. Major employers include:

Paradise Fossil Plant sits close to the original site of the village of Paradise, Kentucky. The power plant is the second largest plant in the TVA Fossil Fuels Plant Inventory with a rated output of 2,630 megawatts. It is composed of three units. Units 1&2 are twin 740 MW units while Unit 3 is the largest Cyclonic Boiler Unit in the World rated at 1,150 MW.

Chamber of commerce

In January 2006, the chambers of commerce from Central City and Greenville merged to form the Greater Muhlenberg Chamber of Commerce. The new, unified chamber consists of over 155 local businesses.[14]

Incoming industries

Peabody Energy's new Thoroughbred Energy Plant, a coal-burning power generation facility expected to bring 450 permanent jobs to the area, is to be located in Central City.[15] The plant was projected to begin electricity generation sometime in 2007,[16] but a dispute over Peabody's air quality permit has halted construction plans.[17] The power plant plans have now been scrapped, as was a later partnership between Peabody Energy and ConocoPhillips Oil Company called, "Kentucky NewGas".[18]



Public schools in Muhlenberg County are under the purview of the Muhlenberg County Board of Education. They include:

Elementary (K-5)

Middle (6-8)

High (9-12)


The Muhlenberg Campus of Madisonville Community College is located in Central City. The Muhlenberg Career Development Center is located between Central City & Greenville.

Former schools


There are two public libraries in Muhlenberg County: Harbin Memorial Library in Greenville and Central City Library in Central City. Both locations provide residents with free access to high speed Internet service. These libraries have been joined together as Muhlenberg County Library, although both locations remain open.

History of education

There were once eight high schools in Muhlenberg County, 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 badly deteriorating elementary schools, closing Graham Elementary School and transferring students to Longest Elementary School and the expanded Greenville Elementary School, and closing Lake Malone School transferring those students to Hughes-Kirkpatrick Elementary School. Consolidation continued in 2005 with the closure of Drakesboro Elementary School. Students from Drakesboro spent a year at Hughes-Kirkpatrick Elementary School until the opening of the newly constructed Muhlenberg South Elementary School in 2006 (and subsequent closing of Hughes-Kirkpatrick.)

On February 5, 2008, three communities in Muhlenberg County received major damage during the 2008 Super Tuesday tornado outbreak. These communities were Greenville, Powderly, and Central City. Three residents were killed outside Greenville when the EF-3 tornado struck.

In November 2008 the Muhlenberg County school board announced that both Muhlenberg South High School and Muhlenberg North High School will combine and no longer be the Suns and Stars but will be Muhlenberg County High School home of the Mustangs. The change took effect in June 2009.


Sites of interest

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

Annual events


Notable people

See also


  1. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  4. The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Volume 1. Kentucky State Historical Society. 1903. p. 36.
  5. Collins, Lewis (1882). Collins' Historical Sketches of Kentucky: History of Kentucky, Volume 2. Collins & Company. p. 26.
  6. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  7. "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  8. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  9. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  10. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  11. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  12. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  13. Major Employers in Muhlenberg County Kentucky
  14. Greater Muhlenberg Chamber of Commerce - Message from the President
  16. Kentucky Issues Air Permit for Peabody's Thoroughbred Energy Campus
  17. Bruggers, James (2007-08-08). "Ruling delays power plant in Western Ky.". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved 2007-08-08.

Coordinates: 37°13′N 87°09′W / 37.21°N 87.15°W / 37.21; -87.15

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