Benham and Lynch

More About Our Towns

The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Black Mountain and the surrounding communities of Benham and Lynch one of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in America for 2010.

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Visions from Black Mountain

Visions from Black Mountain cover

Residents of Benham, Lynch and Cumberland share their visions for the unique Tri-Cities area.

Kids on Looney Creek (Harlan Co)Built almost 100 years ago, the towns of Lynch and Benham are living examples of an important era. At their height in the 1940s, the communities were home to more than 10,000 people representing more than three dozen different nationalities. By the end of World War II, Lynch was the largest coal camp in the world!

But coal mining jobs have declined sharply since the 1970s as mechanization and surface mining replaced underground miners.

Residents were determined to preserve our history and heritage, and not let our towns die. With the help of many people working together, we've made a lot of progress. Today, thousands of visitors come to our Coal Mine Museum in the old Benham Commissary. Many stay in the School House Inn, housed in Benham’s old “white” school and visit with the good people at the Eastern Kentucky Social Club, located in Lynch in the old “black” school. Portal 31 is a state-of-the-art underground coal mine exhibit. And everyone can enjoy beautiful views of big Black Mountain, Kentucky’s highest peak.

These are just a few examples of the opportunity we have, today, to build a stronger, healthier economy based on the natural beauty and unique history of this valley. And there is much more that could be done. Our water is pure and ideal for a water bottling plant. The force of the water running off Black Mountain could turn small turbines and provide affordable energy for our communities. The challenge of our old company housing stock provides great potential for a residential energy efficiency program to save our residents money, save energy, and create good local jobs.

If we protect what we’ve got, this valley could provide a model
for the whole region about how to begin to transition and diversify our economy.

To build on this opportunity and sustain our progress, currently we are engaged in several projects:

  1. Protecting our communities from the threats of strip mining
  2. The Lynch Energy Project
  3. Benham Energy Project

Click to watch a photo slideshow