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Wayne County, the forty-third
county in order of formation, is located in the
south-central section of Kentucky along the state border
with Tennessee. Created in 1800 from parts of
Cumberland counties, it was named in honor of General
Anthony Wayne, a Revolutionary War hero. The 446-square-mile
county is bordered by
Russell County (northwest),
Pulaski County (northeast),
McCreary County (east),
Clinton County (west),
Pickett County, TN (southwest),
Scott County, TN (southeast).
The county seat is Monticello.
The county is divided into three distinct physical regions: the Cumberland Plateau, the level plain in the southeastern part of the county; the Knobs, rolling plains that run through the center of the county; and the Pennyroyal or Mississippi Plateau, the northwestern part of the county.
Pioneer Long Hunters visited what was to become Wayne County in 1770 and established a camp near Mill Springs, a few miles north of Monticello. In 1775 Benjamin Price built a cabin and established a camp near Mill Springs. Price's Station was one of Kentucky's first permanent settlements. Many settlers in the county had participated in the Revolutionary War. Joshua Jones, one of the most prominent early settlers, came in 1794; Jonathan and James Ingram in 1796; Cornelius Phillips in 1798; and Isaac West, James Simpson, Nicholas Lloyd, and Henry Garner in 1799. Between 1800 and 1810 a large number of families arrived.
The first means of transportation was the Cumberland River. In 1880 a turnpike was built from Monticello to Burnside. In 1881 toll roads were first used in Wayne County; the last of them, the Shearer Valley Pike, closed in 1927. The last stagecoach to operate in Kentucky connected Monticello and Burnside until 1915. Highways KY 90 and KY 92 now run through the county.
At the onset of the Civil War, General Felix Zollicoffer's Confederate army headquarters were located in the Lanier House at Mill Springs. Zollicoffer was killed and the Confederates defeated on January 19, 1862 at Mill Springs. The mill there, built in 1840, has one of the largest overshot water wheels of its kind and in 1990 was still grinding cornmeal.
Agriculture and forest products were the basis of the economy until the mid-1950s. In 1955, a manufacturing plant was built, and beginning in the mid-1960s Wayne County's economy began to diversify. The Monticello Wayne County Airport, completed in 1974, has 4,000 feet of paved runway. Since the nearest rail service is twenty miles northeast of Monticello, trucks transport all goods to and from the county. In 1982 employment totaled 6,905, with nonagricultural jobs accounting for 5,960. The economic base of the county includes tourism. Monticello, the only incorporated town, is the retail trade center for Wayne County.
The author Harriette Simpson Arnow was born near Pueblo in Wayne County. John Catron, who lived in the Beech Hollow community, migrated to Tennessee and served in several capacities as a public official before President Andrew Jackson appointed him associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. William Armstrong Cooper, a prominent minister, is credited with great influence upon public thinking in Wayne County during the 1800s. He baptized six persons who later became governors of states.
The stone of Lloyd Addison Lanier,
The old mill at Mill Springs, KY