Kentucky Map

Country Music Highway

Basics
Length:
144.1 miles (231 km)
Time:
2.5 hours to drive or two days to enjoy the Byway.

Description

Running almost the entire length of Eastern Kentucky, Country Music Highway is a Byway devoted to the rich heritage and history of the region. You will be immersed in the traditions of Eastern Kentucky mountain music since this Byway has been home to over a dozen well-known country music stars, including Loretta Lynn, Wynonna Judd, Naomi Judd, Billy Ray Cyrus, Tom T. Hall, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Dwight Yoakam, and Patty Loveless. In addition to these performers, the National Heritage Fellowship recipient Morgan Sexton, Lee Sexton, Roscoe Halcomb, and Jeanne Ritchie all hail from areas along the Country Music Highway.

You will get the chance to hear the sounds of Appalachian music at venues all along the Byway. Most notably is the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg, which is home to the Kentucky Opry. Other venues which host musical events are the historic and beautiful Paramount Theatre in Ashland, or Appalshop, which is an award winning film and music documentary and preservation organization in Whitesburg. Country Music Highway communities are never at a loss for hosting smaller shows, or festivals, such as the Seedtime Festival in Whitesburg, or the Apple Festival at the Mountain Home Place in Paintsville.

The Country Music Highway is not only the history of country music, but the Byway travels through areas which are rich in the history of Native Americans, pioneers, the Civil War, and the mining industry. The story of Eastern Kentucky has been influenced by those who, early on in the nation's history, began searching for land west of the Appalachian mountains. Not long thereafter, as a result of being a border state between the North and South, sections of the area became battlegrounds for the Civil War. As the area began to develop and grow, mining became an essential chapter in the history of Eastern Kentucky. The conflict between the miners of the region and outside influences is most notable in the Hatfield-McCoy feud, which would became a nationally known event.

While on the trail of feuders, pioneers, or miners, the area along Country Music Highway is full of natural beauty and recreational opportunities. Preeminent in the area is Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, situated on beautiful Dewey Lake. Come and enjoy the opportunities for golfing, hiking, or watching a movie at a summer outdoor theater. Additional parks such as Yatesville Lake State Park, Paintsville Lake State Park, or the Lilley Cornett Woods are adventures in discovering old growth forests, wildlife, and inspiring scenic views.

Points of Interest

Points of Interest Along The Way

Appalshop (KY)

Kentucky is famous for its folk art, appreciation for music and theater, and support of creative movements. Appalshop is one place where all this comes together to create a community arts center for families, youth, or any individual who wants to express themself.

An amazing sense of self-expression, creativity, and local culture is the setting for this fascinating tribute to the arts.

Battle of Middle Creek Historic Site (KY)

Though a relatively small skirmish by Civil War standards, the Battle of Middle Creek was a historically important moment in American history. James Garfield led inexperienced Union troops as they brought Confederate control of the strategically important region to an end. The battle marked the beginning of an illustrious career for Garfield which led eventually to the presidency.

This historic battlefield offers self-guided tours, including signs detailing specifics of the battle, as well as information kiosks and a car tour of the battlefield and surrounding area.

Directions

Near Prestonburg, KY

Breaks Interstate Park (KY)

Breaks Interstate Park, the Grand Canyon of the South, is a short distance from the byway and features some of the most dramatic landscapes in the South.

Directions

On the Kentucky/Virginia border

Butcher Hollow, Van Lear (KY)

Directions

The cabin located at Butcher Hollow in Van Lear is the home of Loretta Lynn,and it is also the cabin where Crystal Gayle's family resided.Loretta's brother gives guided tours of the cabin which is open tothe public. Butcher Hollow is the site for Loretta Lynn'sautobiography and song "Coal Miner's Daughter," which later becamethe basis for a movie.

East Kentucky Science Center (KY)

The East Kentucky Science Center contains Kentucky's newest and most technically advanced planetarium. The Center's star projector, the GOTO Chronos, represents 21st Century technology. With the Center's Chronos Star Projector, multiple projection system, amazing video projection system, exceptional sound system, and laser light productions, a visit to the East Kentucky Science Center Planetarium becomes not only an auditory experience, but a sensory experience, as well.

Directions

207 West Court Street, Suite 201, Prestonsburg, KY 41653

East Kentucky Science Center (KY)

The East Kentucky Science Center contains Kentucky's newest and most technically advanced planetarium. The Center's star projector, the GOTO Chronos, represents 21st Century technology. With the Center's Chronos Star Projector, multiple projection system, amazing video projection system, exceptional sound system, and laser light productions, a visit to the East Kentucky Science Center Planetarium becomes not only an auditory experience, but a sensory experience, as well.

Directions

207 West Court Street, Suite 201, Prestonsburg, KY 41653

Elkhorn City Railroad Museum (KY)

This railroad museum is located in the hometown of Patty Loveless.

Directions

In Elkhorn City, KY

Fishtrap Lakes (KY)

Fishtrap Lakes is a locally developed ecosystem that provides an interpretive walking or driving tour around the lake.

Directions

KY

Highlands Museum and Discovery Center (KY)

The Highlands Museum & Discovery Center boasts a CountryMusic Heritage Hall that highlights the lives and music of thetwelve country stars who had their beginnings along Highway 23.

The exhibit begins with an early singer, Hylo Brown, who made itbig with local and then Nashville radio stations; finally singingwith the Grand Ole Opry. Alongside Hylo is Tom T. Hall, and sistersLoretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle. These folks blended the stories andsounds of the hills into songs for the airwaves. The names,pictures and accomplishments of Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoakam, andRicky Skaggs line the walls with cases of memorabilia.

The exhibit becomes a family album with the last four of thetwelve County Music Highway stars. Billy Ray Cyrus is a localFlatwood, KY boy who came home to film the video for his first hitsingle "Achy-Breaky Heart" down the street from the museum on theParamount Theater's stage. The clothing that he wore for that aswell as pictures and CDs are displayed in the museum'scollections.

The mother and daughter team of Naomi and Wynonna Judd, add tothe roster of singers. From the dazzling dresses worn for stageappearances to gold records and family portraits, these Ashlandnatives are in friendly surroundings. "Mama, he's crazy. . . crazyover me" comes plaintively from the sound dome as the journey fromeastern Kentucky to the glitter and glamour of fame is presented.If you're part of a tour group, Mama Polly Judd, an Ashlandresident, often comes to welcomes visitors to the Hall.

Finally, the brilliant talent and career of Keith Whitley arehighlighted in the Keith Whitley Collection, a compilation ofmusic, CDs, memorabilia, pictures, costumes and comments about thelate singer's short career. Push the button by the guitar andyou'll be amazed at the number of Whitley songs you canrecognize.

The up-coming generation of singers is not forgotten for a smallcorner stage boasts the Karaoke Korner. Hop up on the floorboards,grab a mike, choose your song and imagine the applause as yourvoice wafts over the rafters. Studio A is just beyond the karaokestage and features an original Highway 23 song that leads theviewer through the instrumental mixing of a country song. A newaddition to the Country Music Heritage tradition is Music Quilt, aninteractive musical sculpture whose pieces resound with musicaltones and special sound effects. Place your palm on the quilt andthe unique wooden puzzle springs to life. You, too, can be amusician with the right tools!

The museum hosts many groups of school children awed by thelights and sights of the County Music area. One of the ways we talkabout the stars is, not as celebrities, but as citizens of our areawho had dreams and talent and who worked very hard to achieve theirdreams. We talk, too, about the writers, instrumentalists andtechnicians who are an important part of the final musical product.We finally talk about the stories that become songs; the storiesthat tell of everyday experiences.

Jenkins Coal Museum (KY)

Jenkins coal museum is located in an active coal mining town.

Directions

In Jenkins, KY

Jenny Wiley State Resort Park (KY)

Jenny Wiley State Resort Park is one of the most popular parksin Kentucky. In addition to offering multi-seasonal attractions forvisitors, the park is also home to a Broadway performer staffedsummer theatre program that features five different shows runningconcurrently on their outdoor stage.

Directions

Located east of US23 between Prestonburg and Paintsville, KY

Details

Length:
144.1 miles (231 km)
Time:
2.5 hours to drive or two days to enjoy the Byway.
Main Roads:
US-23 S

Map + Directions

Customizable Directions


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