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  • A Vlog by Jeff Epps

Heritage Travel Campaign-Part 16 (Cumberland Gap & Harlan County, Kentucky)

Part 16 of my "Heritage" travel campaign.

I visited the Cumberland Gap and also nearby Harlan County, Kentucky. Both places have a great deal of history and culture to them.

The Cumberland Gap is a passage through the Cumberland Mountains, a part of the Appalatian Mountains, that covers parts of three separate states, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virgninia.

It was beneficial to military troops during both the American Revolutionary War and the American Civil War, due to its high ground. There were two major Civil War battles at the Gap, in 1862 and 1863, both Union victories. The Gap changed hands between Union and Confederate troops four different times.

Today, the Cumberland Gap is a national park that offers camping, guided tours, backpacking, hiking, and of course, sightseeing.

Two of the best attractions at the Cumberland Gap are the Pinnacle Overlook and the Wilderness Road Trail. The Pinnacle Overlook is a modernized cliff where people can see a breath-taking, aerial, panoramic view of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and see the Gap from above. The Wilderness Road Trail was one of two main routes used by colonial and other early settlers to reach Kentucky from the East. Daniel Boone traveled this road.

Almost 685,000 visitors visited the Cumberland Gap in 2018.

Harlan County, Kentucky is known for its coal mining heritage, as it was the center of 100 years worth of lucrative coal production. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were several notable labor disputes including the Harlan County War of the 1930s. It was nicknamed "Bloody Harlan."

Harlan County was also included in the area of the Hatfield-McCoy dispute, along with other notorious family feuds. It has been mentioned in popular culture in shows like "Justified," with Timothy Olyphant and songs like "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive."

Harlan County is also known for its folk music and country music heritage. Though Loretta Lynn is from Johnson County, there is an exhibit honoring her legacy at the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham.

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