The following essay placed second in the Letcher County Soil Conservation competition sponsored by The Courier-Journal, The Louisville Times, WHAS and WHAS-TV in cooperation with the Kentucky Association of Soil Conservation Districts and the Kentucky Department of Education.
“How water conservation benefits my community” by Donald Woodford
In view of the many facts against it, I think the title of this essay should be changed from “Ho w water conservation benefits my community,” to “How water conservation could and will benefit my community.” I think the first title is a handicap to the students of eastern Kentucky and Letcher County. We in the eastern part of the state feel that we have been forgotten as far as flood control, navigation, and the overall picture of water conservation is concerned. We get plenty of promises from our Congressmen until they are elected. Then they forget us. Industry would come into eastern Kentucky if we had some sort of water route to move the products over.
My community is the little mining camp of Premium. Premium is located eight miles from the county seat of Whitesburg and is located and situated on the banks of Smoot Creek and the North Fork of the Kentucky River. Each year, usually about this time, we lose thousands of gallons of water through our rain- and snow-swollen streams. This overflow is taken into larger rivers and eventually into the ocean. While it is on its way it takes millions of tons of loose soil. This costs millions of dollars out of the farmers’ and merchants’ pockets.
We should all know that our water supply is not inexhaustible. We think rain, snow, and other watermakers as something that is here to stay. This may not hold true. We should stop to realize that there are states in our country that lose millions of dollars through droughts each year. This goes to show that our water supply is not inexhaustible.
On Smoot Creek this past summer, the creeks dried up completely. Because of this every minnow and aquatic creature that lived in the creed died. But now the water is back and so are a few of the water creatures.
This same situation applied to the North Fork of the Kentucky River. We have a dry spell in the summer and what happens? The river goes down, the water becomes polluted, and the fish all die. That ruins the sport of fishing.
When the water gets low in my community, the wells get low also. When this happens, we have to go slow with our water. We sometimes neglect our health in these times.
Most of our sewers empty into our creeks and streams and help to pollute them. This makes the rivers dirty and sometimes causes polio epidemics.
There are a few spots in eastern Kentucky that are privileged enough to have scenic waterfalls, lakes, dams, and other beautiful natural water scenes, but not so for our community or county. We haven’t seen developed our Pine Mountain Park as it should be. When these are developed it serves only people in one certain area unless it is a great big project. My community is not in the area of any of these projects.
In my community we have a good supply of surface water and a fair supply of underground water. But we have no great supply of either of these. If your supply of surface water runs out, we can depend on having a drought-stricken community in just a short time. The average rainfall in my community is about fortyfive inches.
Very little of this water goes into our underground supply. Most of it runs off as surface water. We will never live to see the day when we will have no water. Every “once in a while” our wells and springs run dry. But the day may come when we will have no water supply of any kind. This is the main reason we are concerned about water conservation.
In my community, we used to look forward to summer as our recreation period. We could swim at the “swimming hole” or fish at the fishing hole every day. But now there is hardly a hole of water on the North Fork of the great Kentucky River over five feet deep in the summer.
One of the main reasons the river in my community is polluted is because of the sewage in it. Most of our toilets empty into our rivers. We should have ground cesspools for our sewage instead of letting it pollute our rivers. The germs of these polluted rivers cause polio and other dreaded diseases.
The rivers in Letcher County, which is chiefly my community, have never been large enough for water transportation. This is because of the fact that the North Fork of the Kentucky rises in Letcher County. This is also true for the Cumberland River. Because of these handicaps they are not large enough for this purpose.
Our streams could have small dams put on them and used for electric plants. This would bring industry into this county and others and our people would have jobs.
But as a whole, the water conservation movement in my community is on the bright side. We are having more said and done about it each year. We waste water in Letcher County to the extent of millions of gallons each year. Are we going to keep this rate up? We will soon know. Let’s all wake up and help our community by helping in the Water Conservation movement.
The preacher and the nightingale
On Wednesday, February 2, the Revivalist from the Methodist Church, Mr. Overly, and the singer, Phil Cartwright, visited our school. Mr. Cartwright gave us a series of songs expressing why he liked to sing. They were “I Love Live,” “Without a Song”, “Through the Years,” “Down by The River,” and “I Walked Where You Walked.” They were very entertaining and I am sure we will not hear the likes of it again for a long while. Mr. Overly talked about the three sins. It was an excellent subject and well given.
The annual FHA trip
The Whitesburg Chapter of Future Homemakers started the annual trip May 24, to Mammoth Cave. The girls boarded the school bus with suitcases and lunch for the noon meal for a two-day trip of education and fun. The rain followed us until we were so hungry that we decided to eat the lunch in the bus. The sun came out but rain came in a real shower to greet us at Bardstown “My Old Kentucky Home.” Of course, a little shower did not even dampen our spirits. We were soon in the bus and traveling on to Hodgenville, the birthplace of Lincoln. Now we have started on the last lap, and in a hurry for there was no time to lose, if we made a trip in, that afternoon. We just barely made this trip. We were soon registered in the “Big Cabin” in Mammoth Cave camp, twenty-two of us in the one cabin — yes, the sides were bulging with fun and pranks. We were soon cleaned up and on our way to the hotel for the evening meal, after which we wondered into the hotel lobby for an evening of fun. At 9:00 a.m. we started into the cave on Route 1 the Old Historic trail. There were over 100 on the trip, about 70 grade and high school and others. There were many things of interest, the salt peter vats which were used during the war of 1812 — the wooden pipes are still right where they were left, Fat Man’s Misery, ride on Echo River and many other things of interest. We came out of the cave at 11:30 and took to the bus for the ride home.
(The above article is from the June 2, 1955 Mountain Eagle.)
The following companies purchased ads in the 1955 Yellowjacket yearbook: The Bank of Whitesburg, Reedy’s Plumbing and Heating; Home Lumber Co., Pet Dairy; Modern Bakery, Bentley Grocery, Boone Motor Co., Royal Crown Bottling Co., Harcourt and Company of Louisville, Day’s Grocery, Charlie’s (Hall) Place, Sayler Radio Co., Vernon Goff – A&P Manager, Southeast School Assemblies, Pinson Transfer Co., Bissell’s Office Equipment, KYVA Motor Co., Craft Funeral Homes,
Stumbo Supply, Kentucky West Virginia Armature Co., Holstein Hardware, Roger’s Dairy Bar, Kentucky Power Company, Collins Electric, Bradshaw Jewelry, Whitesburg Insurance Agency, Standard Oil, Whitesburg VFW, Electric Machine and Supply Co., Dawahare’s, Johnson Funeral Homes, J. Clyde Frazier Furniture and Appliances, The Mountain Eagle, Mayor Arthur Banks.