Princeton (population 6,940) is the county seat of Caldwell County in western Kentucky. The site was first called Eddy Grove, because of its location at the head of Eddy Creek. In 1817, it was renamed Princetown to honor William Prince, an early settler, and the spelling later changed. The area was made attractive to settlement by a spring. The first settlers of the spring area were Prince, who had been awarded a military land grant from Virginia, and Thomas Frazier, who arrived sometime around 1797. Frazier built a home, a brick kiln, and an inn at the spring.
The settlement grew as a crossroads community, at the junction of roads leading to crossings of the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers. In 1838, displaced Cherokee Indians followed the "Trail of Tears" through Princeton on their way to Oklahoma.
During the Civil War, Princeton was subject to raiding and foraging parties of both Confederate and Union armies. Following the war and construction of a railroad, the town grew and thrived as a business, educational, religious, transportation, and agricultural center (known for Black Patch tobacco and the 1906 "war" fought over it).
Today Princeton is a bustling area with historic buildings dating from 1817 to the early 1940s, including the Adsmore Victorian mansion museum (1857). The business district of downtown Princeton is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and the Main Street (U.S. 91) is part of the National Trail of Tears.
Princeton and the Caldwell County Railroad Museum are also included on the Great Rail Trail of historic railroads and railroad museums in Kentucky and Tennessee. The city is an active participant in the Renaissance Kentucky/Main Street program, and a new tourism welcome center in a restored 1890s church building opened in 2003.
Designated a Preserve America Community in August 2004.