Steamboats came to Bluff City

Taken from a Special Edition of "The Gleaner"
printed March 27, 1988
permissive use granted by Editor
newspaper provided by Vonette Shelton-Curtis

Green River town was founded by Stark Haynes in 1867

By Frank Boyett
of the Gleaner staff

Bluff City had some of the best access in the county when it was founded about 1867.

Laid out with 14 streets on rich alluvial soil with good drainage, the town stood about 25 feet above the Green River's high water. It also was located on the Henderson-Owensboro road, which was the first gravel road built in the county.

A lot has changed in the last 120 years since Stark D. Haynes founded the town. Most of the original streets are planted in corn or soybeans. Sternwheeler riverboats no longer stop to pick up hogsheads of tobacco and other farm produce. And if you travel to Bluff City, you'll have to come back the way you went.

For the past 10 years, since the bridge over Lick Creek was taken out, Bluff City has been at a dead end.

"They would like to have their bridge back - it's a sore spot with them," said Don Hazelwood, a Henderson motel owner and part-time historian.

The chances are good that might finally happen. That bridge is on the county's list of projects to be built, and it will probably be erected once state money becomes available.

Hazelwood probably knows more about Bluff City than any man alive. He is a third-generation native, and researched the town's history for the "History of Henderson County, Kentucky," which he co-edited.

"There was quite a big Indian village there at one time," he said, which had substantial dealings with the Indian village at Angel Mounds. One of the best crossings of the Green River was near Bluff City, he said, so it was on a major Indian trading route.

"It's a dandy little community - if you've made enough money to move out of there," Hazelwood said facetiously. "There are more rednecks in Bluff City than there are in Alabama. It's the cultural center of Western Kentucky."

All joking aside, Bluff City is a pretty nice place to live, according to some of those who still live there.

"About everybody born and raised here stays here, " said James C. Hust. "My Granddaddy was raised here3 years ago."

"It's a typical small town - sort of lazy and not much happening," said James C. Haire, who has lived in Bluff City all but three of his 48 years.

A look around the community bears out that statement. There are two churches, noether of which has a pastor at the moment, and the only commercial establishments are an auto body shop and a beauty salon.

The town's population is less than 100, which is about what it was a century ago.

At various times the town had several coal mines, a grist mill, a tobacco stemmery, a couple of hotels and three general stores. It even had a post office between 1872 and 1909.

All that is gone now. Even the ferry closed down in the late 1940's.

The biggest news lately was when Haire's brother, Gary Haire, transformed half of his body shop into a pool hall. It has two pool tables.

"It seems like the dogs kind of outnumber the people sometimes," Haire said.

"There's just not a whole lot to say about it," Hust remarked.

transcribed by Tina Hall 8-12-2002

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