Once known as Poor Fork, Cumberland, Kentucky, (population 7,147) is both Harlan County’s largest town as well as home to Kentucky’s highest point, Big Black Mountain. The area saw both Confederate and Union troops pass through during the Civil War and became an important coal mining center, especially between the two World Wars.
The Cumberland Central Business District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. An audio driving tour is available to guide visitors to historic and natural attractions in Cumberland and nearby Benham and Lynch.
Cumberland is home to the Appalachian Cultural Arts Center, part of Southwest Community College. The center is dedicated to preserving the region’s cultural heritage and the traditions that define was it means to be “Appalachian.” The center is host to performances by national, regional, and local artists and many nationally known speakers.
The Appalachian Center’s Archive houses an extensive collection of Appalachian artifacts including thousands of oral histories, photographs, artwork, and music. Art exhibits featuring a wide variety of mediums and artists are on display in the art gallery throughout the year and an arts and crafts studio provides students with the opportunity to try various types of art.
Another highlight of Cumberland is the Poor Fork Arts and Crafts Guild, which features thousands of items handcrafted in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. Cumberland also hosts the annual Black Bear Festival, which features activities such as fishing and archery instruction and includes educational displays and demonstrations.
Designated a Preserve America Community in November 2006.
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