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History of Torchlight

Nothing remains of this 19th century coal town on the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River, 4 miles south of Louisa. On the site of John Hammond's settlement with store, sawmill, and stave factory, Col. Jay H. Northup established the Torchlight Mine and the community to serve it and house its workers. He is also said to have suggested its name, recalling the customary torchlight parades held on election nights in many eastern Kentucky towns.*

Colonel Jay H. Northup (abt. 1922)

He referred to the particular event a few weeks earlier when one man dropped or threw his pine torch onto the porch of Greenup hotel and burned it to the ground. Historians seem to favor this accout of the name of other local traditions that refer to residents lighting their way at night with pine torches and to an everburning torch that allegedly stood at the mine entrance.

On September 16, 1902, Torchlight acquired its p.o. with Harry D. Lambert, post master. In 1920-21 the p.o. was known briefly as Superior for the Superior Brick, Tile and Coal Co., which then had some interest in the place, but the Torchlight name was soon restored. The p.o. closed in 1943.

* At the Election of Cleveland a party of men in Louisa decided on a celebration. With lighted pine torches they walked the ridge (or top of the hills) to a spot on the river where steamboats took coal and where they were met by friends in boats, also having torches - thus Torchlight.

Sources: Kentucky Place Names, Robert M. Rennick.
Dereca Preston, History of Lawrence Co., p. 9.
Transcribed into elctronic format for LCHS by Marlitta H. Perkins

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