Commonwealth Journal

News Live

August 7, 2013

Burnside Time Capsule

1950 Detroit newspaper offers final look at town before it was impounded by Lake Cumberland

Somerset —


A journalistic treasure was found recently while a Somerset woman was going through some old papers at her home on College Street.

The special “find” was a full newspaper page of photographs of Old Burnside published by The Detroit News Pictorial September 10, 1950, nearly four months before the gates were closed at Wolf Creek Dam to impound Lake Cumberland.

“I thought this would be interesting to the Commonwealth Journal,” said Jane Tibbals Ledford, noting all the publicity about problems at Wolf Creek Dam. She found the old newspaper at her current home, the former Dr. F.E. Tibbals’ residence. Jane Tibbals Ledford is a sister to the late Carol Tibbals Troxell, wife of Larry Troxell, former news editor for the Commonwealth Journal.

Reason given 63 years ago for the spread of photos about old Burnside in Motor City was “ ... over the years thousands of Detroiters en route to Florida or the mid-South on U.S. 27 have passed through Burnside in central Kentucky on the banks of the Cumberland River.”

The Detroit newspaper writer said Burnside “ ... was the last place to get a decent meal before entering the twisting Cumberland Mountains part of the journey. The tedious twists and turns start just south of Burnside and end at Harriman, Tenn.” Thankfully, the lake is here and U.S. 27 has been widened since 1950.

Photo at the top of the old newspaper page was a passenger car parked in front of a sign in sight of a partially completed Southern Railway Bridge.

Said the sign: “You are now riding on the bottom of future Cumberland Lake. This fisherman’s dream is now filling and when filled with be the largest lake east of the Mississippi River. This vacationist’s haven will be filled by vacation time of 1951. Make your plans now to return.”

Lake Cumberland would be a shot-in-the-arm for the Somerset-Burnside area, gasping economically from the recent closing of the Southern Railroad Shops at Ferguson. The Shops had employed 600 men with relatively high-paying jobs.

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