When you walk down the streets of Hyden, it feels like home. Stone sidewalks lead you to such places as the Red Light Café where I stopped for lunch and enjoyed their decor and the Veterans Square which honors and remembers all residents of Leslie County whom have served for our beloved country. I also dropped into the Leslie County Public Library viewing some black & white photos of the old Hyden. The librarians were eager to help, pulling out binders and history books in my quest for more information about their town.
More explorations of the city lead me to the Hurricane Creek Mine Disaster Memorial, erected in 2011, the memorial is in remembrance of the 38 miners who lost their lives in an explosion on December 30th, 1970. Only one survived, Mr. A. T. Collins, who was blown over 60 feet out of the mine. The memorial is lined with miners hats with each of their names. They lost their lives to the darkness of the mines.
A new addition to Hyden is the Kentucky Veterans Cemetary South East, it is the 5th one of its kind in the state. Construction has just been completed and the flags are flying high. This revered space will serve Southeastern Kentucky veterans and their families, showing tribute for their service of the nation and commonwealth. It’s a quiet, peaceful place in the mountains. I’m sure many loved ones will be thankful for such tranquility while remembering their treasured veterans.
A huge part of Hyden’s history is Mary Carson Breckinridge, a nurse-midwife who founded the Kentucky Committee for Mothers and Babies which became Frontier Nursing Services after realizing the need for midwifery. I met a retired school teacher, Mr. John Perry, in front of the courthouse and we talked about Breckinridges journey and the struggles she had in the beginning but also the great need for her in the city and surrounding areas. She would ride on horseback through town, taking up donations and rode those same horses to deliver babies, day or night. The local hospital is named after her and is located on Mary Breckinridge drive.
One thing I noticed most of all about Hyden was the friendliness of everyone I met. From the café to the library to the local coffee shop, The Well even to the Mom & Pop burger place, Goofy’s. I felt welcome anywhere I went. The people of Hyden are very proud of their small town and they have every reason to be, it’s a great place to visit and seems like it would be a wonderful place to live.
Thank you to the city of Hyden for amazing hospitality and for giving me such a great story for my cities of Kentucky series. I look forward to visiting again!