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Coolidge-Whitley City

By Peggy M. Wilson
McCreary County Historical & Genealogical Society

The year is 1886/1887. The U. S. Geological Service, under the direction of George Otis Smith, prepared a reconnaissance map of the Whitley-Pulaski County (southern section) area. We must remember the Cincinnati Southern Railroad had finally pushed its way along the scenic ridge line that leads to Tennessee. The map was undoubtedly prepared because of coal deposits found along the routes of Louisville and Nashville Railroad and Cincinnati Southern, on either side of the Cumberland River, and now made possible the mining that was taking place. On this early map there are few towns worthy of location. Along Southern railroad tracks, from north to south, we find: Beaver Mines, Summit, Cumberland Falls Station, Flat Rock, Barren Fork Coal Mine, Whitley (Coolidge), and Pine Knot (Commercial Summit.) There was no Wiborg, Williams Siding, Marshes Siding, Stearns, Hemlock, Strunk, or Silerville. Only a few people lived at these locations along Southern’s tracks.
There were post offices at several locations, namely Coolidge, Cumberland Falls Station, Greenwood, and Pine Knot. However, things were about to change. Already, the map showed Whitley with (Coolidge) in parenthesis. Six years prior to the map’s publication, Coolidge was the post office and the postmaster was Middleton B. Holloway. On March 12, 1880, other postmasters were: Wm. T. Crouch-November 17, 1894, Joshua J. Wilson March 25, 1901, John S. Wilder-November 29, 1902. It is obvious that as early as 1886, the name Whitley was beginning to take the place of Coolidge as the name for a stop on the Southern Railroad.
The impact of Capt. John A. Geary and his Geary Land Company was beginning to be felt, especially in that part of Pulaski County north of Whitley/Coolidge. In a few short years, 1904, Whitley City would be the name shown on maps. The Whitley City Improvement Company would be in full operation. Cumberland Falls Station would become Parkers Lake, Greenwood would increase its coal production from the Bauer mine on Beaver Creek to the northeast. Indian Head and Williams Siding would be other places for the ever-increasing number of coal cars and passenger cars on Southern’s tracks, places to stop for a time or be flagged down as an influx of newcomers began to settle along the tracks.
Stearns would appear on the map along with post offices at Yamacraw and Worley, all because of coal and lumber enterprises. Silverville, south of Stearns from a slumbering hamlet, became a hustling and bustling coal town with many new residents. To the west along the Little South Fork of the Cumberland, an oil field was being developed, with post offices to accommodate booming populations at Griffin and Slaven.

To tie it all together, near the center of McCreary County, we find a new county seat for the newly organized county-Whitley City as it was now called, instead of Coolidge or Whitley. Our people, for the most part, had moved from Whitley County to the east, bringing with them a new “Whitley” that would become Whitley City.

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