Kentucky Tourism

Pine Mountain History

Established in 1924

Pine Mountain became Kentucky’s first state park in 1924. When the Kentucky State Parks Commission was created in the 1920’s, there was considerable interest among the citizens of Bell County in establishing a state park. Accordingly, the newly appointed chairman of the parks commission, Dr. Willard Rouse Jillson, was invited to meet with local citizens to discuss the possibilities.

The region of the nearby Cumberland Gap was first considered as a possible state park site, but its great cultural significance and potential as a future national park led Jillson to look elsewhere. Eventually, dozens of local citizens would join with the county officials to assemble and donate land in a community effort for the establishment of a state park.

The parks commission accepted this generous gift, originally consisting of present-day Laurel Cove and adjacent areas, and named the new site Cumberland State Park. By 1938, the name had been changed to Pine Mountain State Park to avoid confusion with the similarly named Cumberland Falls State Park, which had since come into the park system.

In the early years, little development took place at Pine Mountain. There were few facilities and a limited system of roads and trails. Substantial development began in 1933 with the inception of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a federally funded program to put young men to work and relieve some of the financial strain of the Great Depression.

The facility development program initiated through the CCC included the construction of roads, bridges, shelters, and hiking trails. Also constructed were log cabins (the original accommodations of the park, today Cabins 215-224), and a main office building. The original office building today serves as the upper lobby adjacent to the dining room of the present park lodge. The construction utilizes native sandstone and American chestnut logs.

During the 1960’s, the Kentucky State Parks embarked upon an era of major expansion. Pine Mountain was recognized as a park deserving greater development, and substantial funding was allotted for new on-site projects. This massive program included the complete renovation of the old lodge with the addition of a wing of 30 guest rooms, 10 cottages, swimming pool, golf course, and road improvements. Facility renovation was again undertaken in 1997-99 and periodically thereafter to achieve needed repairs and improvements.

Today, core park facilities originally constructed by the CCC reflect the splendid craftsmanship and work styles of their creators. These historic structures lend a special old-fashioned charm to Pine Mountain. The park is widely regarded as one of the finest resorts Kentucky has to offer, boasting magnificent natural landscapes steeped in cultural history.