Kings Mountain

Kings Mountain, located on the crest of one of Kentucky’s  knobs, has a history centered around the Southern Railroad. In the late 1800s, approximately 200 men were employed to construct a passageway for trains pulled by the old coal burning, steam locomotives. This passage was perhaps considered a masterpiece since all of the work was done by the muscle power of men.

The tunnel 's construction began on December 23, 1873 and In 1876, the well-known Kings Mountain tunnel, which is nine-tenths of a mile in length with a steep upgrade leading to a high elevation, took its place in the history of this community as well as that of the Southern Railroad. However, the first village was located on top of the tunnel. When the railroad tunnel was constructed, the town was moved to its present location.

Before the tunnel was arched, several families by the name of King lived here and being a small village, this community was known as Kingsville. As late as January 1908, mail was received addressed as such, although by May 1910, the address was Kingsville Post Office, Kings Mountain, KY.

Beginning with the arching of the tunnel, Kings Mountain became a railroad “boom town” and sometimes this place was called “Kings Mountain Tunnel” bearing out the  influence this had on the locality. An old boarding house operated by Mr. and Mrs. Steve Reynolds accommodated railroad personnel who worked out of the Kings Mountain Station. This old hotel  burned several years ago.

Because the tunnel could only be equipped with single track, trains had to be watched carefully so signal and Western Union towers were erected and manned 24 hours a day. A tower located at South Fork (post office known as Arabia, KY) kept a watchful eye on the north and while the Kings Mountain signal tower watched over the south end, keeping trains side tracked or throwing switches to let them pass. A railroad ticket and freight depot also was erected and conducted a large volume of business.

Some of these telegraph operators and agents were V.N. “Pete” Bastin, Bill Leach (father of Randy Leach), T. F. Dunaway (the writer’s father), Mason Caldwell, Earl Hughes, a Mr. Strunk and Mr. Dumes.

The railroad company constructed a large pond located about a mile south of the old depot. A pumping station and huge elevated reservoir furnished water for the old steam loco motives. One of the operators of the station for many years was A. D. Martin.

In the late 1800’s Elder J.G. Livingston recorded the following:

“Kings Mountain on the Southern Railway was decidedly the most ungodly and sin-cursed place in the country. At one time over 200 men were engaged in arching the great tunnel at that point. On Livingston’s way there he met a man who advised him to go back home, “You will be mistreated. They killed a man there last Sunday and whiskey flows up and down the streets.”

Elder Livingston continued to Kings Mountain to preach. In 13 days, there were 25  additions and a congregation was organized. From time to time, he visited as county evangelist and held several meetings. J. L. Allen came to his assistance and as a result a $1,250 house was built and the congregation rejoiced in the regular ministry of Bro. James L. Allen.

This was the beginning of the Kings Mountain Christian Church, completed in 1892. This historic church still stands and has been renovated.

About a year later, in 1893, the Pleasant Point Baptist Church which had a log building located about the center of where the cemetery is now, Replace the log church which was built around 1811 with a new wood frame church.With the assistance of John A. Singleton, pastor of Pleasant Point and county magistrate. The log structure was removed to the Toab Jeffries farm and used as a barn. This farm was later owned by Mr. and Mrs. Claude Singleton and Jack Blair.

Around the turn of the century, a red-haired Methodist minister, Rev. Newsome, came to this country and built a “brush harbor” at the site of the old Claude Hutchinson store (across the road from the present Woodrow Watts residence). A few people split from the Pleasant Point Church,  and under the leadership of Rev. Newsome established the Methodist Church.

The old Methodist Church built a new church at the top of Kings Mountain Hill and the old location  was used as a store. This  new building was stood on the present site of the Methodist Church  and served as a church and as  a School. This building was moved across the street and used for the school and and a new church  building constructed.

The Nazarene Church was not organized until the early 1940s, under the lead Mrs. Jessie Puttett, wife of Otis Puttett basement of the church was used several years before the erection of the present building Mr. and Mrs. Virgil McGuire are two of the charter members.

There have also been several medical doctors in the history of Kings Mountain Dr.  O’Bannon in the late 1800s lived and practice medicine at the Laswell place and later to Stanford to continue his practice.

Dr. C. M. Thompson moved here from Pulaski County, Dr. Acton practiced for many years where Edna Thompson lived, before moving to Glasgow;  Dr. Smith was located where the residence of Mr. Nelson Bastin is today.

Dr. W. D. Laswell came from Rockcastle County to Kings Mountain around 1916.  His office was on the second floor of his residence, later owned by Lee Roger and now owned by Lee’s daughter and her husband..

Frank Miller, as the first Editor of the Kings Mountain Gazette and Mrs. Annie Leach, the typesetter

Due to the length of the tunnel, the of coal burning locomotives and a lack of ventilation shafts many people suffocated to death while riding through the tunnel.. Many trainmen and hobos were victims of suffocation, sometimes the local doctors could revive them but often it was fatal. Once a circus train became stalled in the tunnel. Some of the animals suffocated, while others were released temporarily to avoid suffocation.

Finally three ventilation  shafts were installed in the tunnel, which helped, but usually with passing of a train, coal smoke was so dense miles around, one could scarcely see a few feet away.

Two hotels were built to accommodate the traveling salemen and others who needed a place to stay over night. One was the Pennebaker Hotel, located on the west side of the railroad at the location of the present day home of Stanley Falconberry. This building, owned by John Hart, father of the late Claude Hart, burned several years ago. Later a house was built there  and  was the home of the Ashford Dishon family for many years .

Dan Hester built and operated the other hotel below the present Pilcher Store, formerly the Gabe Walters store. The structure had 16 rooms and a lobby. Through the years, it has housed stores, cream purchasing stations, apartments. Barber shops and at one time, the post office. This building burned on Feb. 2, 1950.

The McCarty family was quite prominent in this era. They donated land for the Kings Mountain Christian Church, owned property of a local canning factory, built and operated a store on the northwest corner in Kings Mountain. This building was later sold to Dr. C. M. Thompson, who l sold it to Ira Patterson and C. M. built on the opposite side of the street. Noble Padgett owned the Patterson building at the time it burned on Feb. 2, 1967.

Other interesting history behind the small community of Kings Mountain includes a short line from Kings Mountain to Duncan and Yosemite. This railroad was short and did not operate many years.

For years, there were at least two wood mills located in Kings Mountain.

Various blacksmith shops have been operated here one by the late Bill Dye. Ab Greer also had a blacksmith shop on the farm of the late Harvey Jenkins.

The “Kings Mountain Echo”, a newspaper was published here around 1913. In one edition, there was a “Temperance Page,” which included a poem entitled “The Hell Bound Train”, informing the people about the problems of alcohol. “Rouse them, Freemen, Come from hill and valley: Fathers, brothers, earnest, brave and strong! Onward, forward, all united rally.” “Death to Alcohol your battle song,” was writ ten across the top of a page.

The newspaper also included advertisements and news from Waynesburg and Pleasant Point.

The Bob Puttett family operated a variety of businesses a short distance from the overhead bridge. This consisted of a grocery, barber shop, garage and feed mill. Noble Padgett later owned this business until the railroad purchased it.

In the early 1960s, the railroad company bought all the land on the northwest side of the county road for the purpose of making a new cut to eliminate the tunnel. This was made necessary by the more modern “piggy back” service used by the trains. The new cut runs parallel and a bit east of the old tunnel, now closed.

At one time, Kings Mountain was an incorporated town, holding town meetings and court on the second floor of the Patterson Building when Major Smith was the judge. Around the late 1930s and early 1940s, Patterson completely remodeled this building and made new additions, bricking the structure. In the late 1920s and early 1930s the upper side of the Patterson warehouse was the office of Dr. Davidson, a dentist, who later moved to Stanford.

Creating a booming business for the lumbermen of this area was a demand for wood ties to be used under the rails. This opened the way for a tie yard, located just south of the depot, which did a huge quantity of business for many years.

During the time of the arching of the tunnel being not many years past the Civil War era, the Ku Klux Klan was still an organization and several lynchings were held on top of the tunnel. Switches and crosses were burned at many doorsteps. Also, Kings Mountain at this time was credited with having five saloons, giving the town a rough name. 

A new paper article of 1886 reported:  “Murder at 2:00 yesterday morning.  Deputy J.S. Johnston and Henry Hester, delivered to jailer Newland, David Green a Negro accused of being an accomplice in the murder of Josiah singleton, killed in Kings Mtn. Sunday afternoon.  Mr. Hester described the killing as follows:  He and another man were attracted to a number of negros, some 6-8, running after singleton and throwing rocks at him.  He started to his assistance, but before he got to him, a Negro had taken singleton’s Pistol from him and shot him in the head.

Mr. Hester succeeded in capturing the Negro Glenn after the shooting him in the back as he ran off.  Glenn said he is from Alabama and that he is working for the contractor Squire who is arching the tunnel. Singleton, the man killed, is the same man who cut out the intestines of a Mr. Vaugh from which he died.  Glenn said Cary Inman, a Negro form Knoxville, was the man who did the killing and that his brother Dan and another man was with him.Singleton was a wild drinking man and it is supposed that he and the Negro were on a big drunk”

Josiah Singleton was the son civil war veteran Rev. David Singleton and the brother to Rev John A. Singleton.

Kings Mountain had two medical doctors whom together gave 93 years of medical services here and to surrounding counties. They traveled by walking, horse back, buggy and car, their working hours were whenever needed —it was never too hot or too cold; too early or too late. Dr. C. M. Thompson and Dr. W. D. Laswell, both will be long remembered here.

Born in the Bee Lick section of Pulaski County, Dec. 19, 1866, Dr. Thompson grew up there and taught school for a few years. Then he graduated from a Medical College in    Cincinnati in June 1891. On Nov.25 that same year, he married Emma Thompson, also of Pulaski County.

After a short term of practice near Somerset, he moved to Kings Mountain on Aug. 1, 1892, where he practiced continually for 64 years.  He also was a doctor for the Southern Railroad.

Dr. Thompson traveled throughout Lincoln, Casey, Pulaski, and Rockcastle Counties and has been credited for around 3,800 obstetrical de liveries, including two sets of triplets and several sets of twins. The last delivery was a child from Ottenheim when he was 89 years old.

Dr. and Mrs. Thompson had three children, Mrs. Bertha Dunaway, Mrs. Grace Hill and Russell Thompson, all deceased. They were the grandparents of nine grandchildren, all of whom are living.

Mrs. Thompson died in March 1953 and Dr. Thompson died in October 1957. Both are bur ied at Buffalo Springs Cemetery in Stanford.

Dr. Thompson, grandfather of Mrs. Marcella Wall, spent his last three years with her, spend ing many hours telling about his life as a doc tor.


Dr. Laswell, born in Orlando, in Rockcastle County on Oct. 7, 1875, came to Kings Mountain in 1916. He attended high school and col lege at Berea and was a graduate of Louisville School of Medicine.

The doctor began his medical career in Willdee and Mt. Vernon in 1904. After coming to Kings Mountain, he practiced medicine in the former location of Dr. O’Bannon’s office after he moved to Stanford.

Dr. Laswell continued his career in Kings Mountain for 29 years until he became ill around 1944. He died July 14, 1945 and was laid to rest at Pleasant Point Cemetery.

He had a large family. He was married to Miss Cumile Reams and their children were Edith, Leita, who died very young, Orville, Harrison, David and George.

After Mrs. Cumile Laswell died on Sept. 13, 1913, he later married Eunice Ball of Honaker, VA and their children were Mary Elizabeth, Margaret, Haskew, Cynthia, Shirley and Cleia, a twin to Shirley, who died in infancy.

Mrs. Eunice Laswell died Oct. 28, 1928. The doctor then married Lucille Young of Highland. a daughter of Cyrus Young. Their children were June, Billy and Roberta Sue.

Both Dr. Thompson and Dr. Laswell owned farms here and were leaders in the civic affairs of the community.





All drawings are the property of Lanny Hubbard
 For a copy of any Drawing
Contact Me at  lroyhub_49@hotmail.com  or lhubbard@myhubbardmtn.com