By: Jeanette Elswick
Elkhorn City is older than you think. William Ramey was granted this property through a land survey about 1825. The town grew very slowly over the next 75 years, less than 50 families were living here. In 1890 came the railroad boom, which played an important part in the development of our town.
Can you visualize arriving in Elkhorn City, Kentucky, by train, in 1907? The railroad bridge had not yet been built. The depot was located near the Caudill mines. To get to main Elkhorn City, you had to take the ferry boat across the river. This ferry was located near the present C&O bridge and was owned and operated by Mart Ratliff and Tom Wallace.
After crossing the river and if you were facing south. You had a choice of two roads. One turned left, going around the hill towards east Elkhorn. (This is now part of Pine Street and the present railroad route) The other road followed the present Elkhorn Street.
Let's take a stroll through Elkhorn City of 1907. Going South on Elkhorn Street, the first home you see is that of Mart Ratliff, beside it is his blacksmith shop, where he built many log wagons. (Ramey's Texaco station and Sears are here now) Next is Powell's livery staple, operated by Jim Powell. (This is now the parking lot of Hawkins Community Market.)
On down the street is the home of Jess Ramey. (Now the location of the New Bailey Funeral Home.) Tom Wallaces home is the next. (Jack Tackett's home occupies this spot now.) Across the street is an empty store building, which was soon to become R.T. Elswick & Co. (This later became the corner of Elkhorn and Center Street.) Also on this proposed Center Street is the Gilbert Bentley home. The Bentley family no longer lives here, but rent it at this time to Levi Sykes. (This is still rental property.) Located here now is the Elkhorn City Cable service, Oma Powells Beauty Shop and the office of Dr. Ralph E. Westervelt.) Across the street almost directly opposite, is the future location of the towns first bank, The First State Bank.
Going back to Elkhorn Street, crossing it to the west side, we come to an old house which is occupied by several men employed by the Yellow Poplar Lumber Company. (This location is now the home of our Mayor Clarney Mullins)
The Rousseau Thornberry home is next. (Joel Coleman's home is here now) Next is the home of Bert McCown. (This same house exits today. 233 Elkhorn Street is now owed by James V. Powell.) At this spot the road turns east toward the river and the Jack Boat landing or southeast to the river crossing to South Elkhorn City. But before we turn, let's go on down Elkhorn Street to the old mill which had been built by General John Thomas Wilder. It is being used by the Yellow Poplar Lumber Company for a stable and storage. Also located in this same area is General Wilder's office, which has been converted into a home. And Two other houses, one the home the Dulsie England and the other, the home of Johnny Wallace.
Going back to the main road, here we see the Rans Polley store. The Praise, Kentucky post office and old Dr. Booth's Office. All occupying a single large building. This building is very old and soon to become empty. Never to be occupied again. I'm sure many stories can be told about this establishment. But the one I like best is the "missing carload of cider". At one time Bob Crabtree operated this store. He brought a carload (Railroad car) of cider and stored it in the wareroom. This old wareroom was built high off the ground. Which made it easy to crawl under. Some of the local young men, decided to get some free cider. They did so by crawling under the wareroom. Drilling holes through the floor and into the cider barrels. They got buckets of cider. By the time Crabtree discovered this, it was to late. All the cider was gone. What wasn't consumed by the young men and their friends was lost when the cider ran out under the floor.
Next is the Orville Cure home and boarding house. (This house also exist today. Located at 339 Main Street it is said to be the oldest house in town. It is the home of Landon Elswick.)
Only three more building to see on Main Street (They are situated on what is today called Main Street.) The old frame building on the hill is the Elkhorn City School. (Today this is 328 Main Street, the home of Joe D. McBride.) Since there wasn't a church in town in 1907, the school served as the church. (A few years later the Methodist Church was built next door. When the school was moved to present location, the old school building was torn down and school was given to the church. This bell is still used by the Church)
Next is Annie Barded's boarding house, located at the northeast corner of Center and Main Street. (This house burned a few years later. The property now belongs to John C. Pergram.) Next is the Rans Polley home, the nicest in town. (It is now the property of Guy Ratliff at 316 Main Street)
Let's go back to the Jack Boat landing. This landing was located on the town's first School. I was told it was an old log school. A spring under the nearby cliff supplied the school with water. Later after it was abandon as a school, it was used as an icehouse. This was many years ago. (This is now 334 Main Street, the home of Ernest G. Mullins.) At the boat landing are several boats.. You are welcome to paddled on across the river to South Elkhorn which is mostly a cow pasture and grazing land.
Few families live in south Elkhorn. The Bentley home, (occupied 536 Russell Street) the Wash Mullins home, (571 Bridge Street) the Wesley Childers home, (near the present city water tank) The Walter Elam home, (directly across form the present school)
Families living in east Elkhorn are Al Swiney, Isabell Wallace, Logan Wallace, Carnelius Payne, Henry Potter, and Harv Tackett.
Living on Elkhorn Creek in the vicinity of Elkhorn City were the families of, Lewis Clevinger, Willaim Henry Adkins, Issac Ramey, Alex Roberts and Rachell Ratliff.
Other families living near the mouth of Beaver Creek were David Stapleton, Sparrel Ratliff, Alfred Hawkins, Alex Phipp, John Elswick, Rice Roberts, and Mart Powell, James Ratliff, and John Matney.
This is the end of our stroll around town. All but three of the previously mentioned homes and businesses are memories of the past many changes have been made in our town the years. This is to be expected if it is to progress.
Enterprise Newspaper, Elkhorn City, Kentucky, Wednesday, August 4, 1971