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Submitted by Peggy Wilson
The town of Pine Knot was situated at the highest elevation between Cincinnati Ohio and Chattanooga Tennessee, was referred to as “Highpoint” or “Commercial Summit” by the early settlers and railroad workers. Pine Knot had been a settlement many decades before the railroad arrived. Favorably located at the junction of The Somerset-Jacksboro Road, and early pioneer Tellico Trail or “The old Beaty Road.” After the railroad was built Pine Knot was the hub for coal, crossties, Barrel staves and many more much-needed supplies.
- February 21, 1880, the first freight train traversed the newly construction known as the Cincinnati Southern Railroad on the way to Chattanooga Tennessee.
The name Pine Knot” or “The Inn” came from a “local inn” where travelers on The Jacksboro Road stopped to stay. The name Pine Knot was incorporated in 1912, later dissolved, and under Kentucky law The Pine Knot Post Office opened in 1874 known as Commercial Summit from 1879-1887 from 1879-1887 then reverted to “Pine Knot”.
Located at the junction of Somerset-Jacksboro Road and east west road from Williamsburg-Monticello Road. Parts known as “The Old Beaty Road”. Commercial Summit/Pine Knot was known as the finest Depot and siding on The Cincinnati Southern Railroad between Somerset and Chattanooga.
For many years Pine Knot remained isolated from the affairs of the outside world depending on iterant salesmen who frequented “The Pine Knot Tavern/Inn” for news of current affairs that they had learned on The Jacksboro Road.
Pine Knot was becoming a new progressive town with a very a modern depot, important railroad siding, post office, two -three “Two-story hotels” six to eight general stores, churches, A blacksmith shop, a calaboose and several private homes. The new town of Pine Knot became an incorporate six class city. A powerline was extended from Stearns to Pine Knot with electricity being generated by the new “Stearns Power Plant”. Shortly after a telephone line was built from Pine Knot to Williamsburg and later a weekly newspaper “The McCreary County News” was founded.
Pine Knot was found in need of a school as early as 1884 when The Whitley County Board of Education sent Ms. Bessie Western from Williamsburg to start a one room school. Later Another school was established in an area south of Pine Knot known as The “Y” with lg. pond water needed for the steam engines (where all train turned). In 1899 the school was moved across the railroad tracks to a bigger building, the teacher was Mr. Jim Steeley. He was joined by another teacher Ms. Mary Parker also from Whitley County. (Ms. Parker married Mr. W. T. “Tom” Wood a young merchant from Pine Knot and remained in Pine Knot.)
In 1899 a one room school was built at a location near The Pine Knot Baptist Church (The church is still there today) Mr. J. C. Harmon donated the land for the church and school as long as used for “said purpose”
In 1912 when McCreary County was created, a third room was added to the Pine Knot School. Mr. Wiley Gilreath was appointed Superintendent by Governor McCreary. Ms. Nora Alcorn from Greenwood was appointed Superintendent. (Note: Ms. Alcorn first elected female official) Ms. Alcorn served from 1914-1918.
In 1920 Pine Knot became an independent school for the next nineteen (19) years. The first senior high school had two (2) members to graduate. Ms. Anna Davis Fannin and Dorman Strunk.
Mr. Wm. O Gilreath served as County superintendent for many years. Many changes were made during his tenure. The first Board of Education was elected and started serving in 1926. Members: Rhodes Crabtree, Perk Winchester, Burrell King, and J.M. Murphy.
One and two room school were in most all surrounding communities.
- Stearns School was a founded in 1918, was a 12yr. independent school was owned by the Stearns Coal and Lumber Co.
There were no banks in any of the surrounding towns of Pine Knot, Coolidge Now Whitley City) Hemlock (Stearns) or Flat Rock, residents had to travel to Williamsburg or Somerset to do their banking on the 15th of each month when the “pay Car” arrived in Pine Knot. This was a big event also at “considerable risk” since everyone was paid in cash.
(Continued in next week’s Voice)