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Rays of sunshine in the shadows of the Great Depression


The early 1930s saw the Great Depression continuing to wreak havoc with high unemployment and weak manufacturing, among other signs of a gravely ill economy. Still, Adair County -- and Columbia in particular -- saw many changes for the better from 1931 through 1933.

A full page piece published in the August 18, 1933 edition of a Madisonville newspaper, The Hustler, headlined (perhaps a bit over-optimistically) "Business Upturns All Over Kentucky," accentuated positive news from several Kentucky cities and counties.

Some of the highlights about Columbia and Adair County:

  • "In spite of the financial depression, which is rapidly disappearing, Columbia, the county seat of Adair, has shown remarkable improvement within the past two years.

  • "A $60,000 water system was completed in May and is now in use.

  • "A sewer system, which will serve the business section of town, is being built with relief labor and soon be completed. The cost is $3,500, made up by private subscription and an appropriation from the Fiscal Court. According to the contractor this job ordinarily have cost $14,000.

  • "The New Adair Hotel, formerly known as Hotel Miller and owned by J.C. Miller, has been completely remodeled and modernized within the past year. It is under the management of B.E. Mills, who came from Corbin with an excellent reputation as a hotel man.

  • "The public square and five principal roads were taken over by the highway department more than a year ago and made a part of the primary system of roads. As a result they have recently been resurfaced with oil and chips and are in excellent condition.

  • "Great improvements in the roads leading into town has been made. The roads to Greensburg and Campbellsville have been given black top surfaces. The Burkesville road has been surfaced with traffic bound macadam.

  • "National Highway 80 is being built to Russell Springs, Russell County, and the grade and drain will soon be completed. The grade and drain to Crocus was completed last year and the new Liberty road was built shortly before that time to Ella on the [Adair-Casey] county line."

(In March 1935, The News published a letter written a few days earlier by Adair native Luther M. Wilmore, who had moved to Carroll County, Missouri twenty-five years earlier. Mr. Wilmore, who had visited Adair County in the summer of 1934, wrote, in part,

"When Burton Browning came back from there two years ago, he told me you could drive from Greensburg to Columbia in twenty minutes. I couldn't understand how they could make a highway over those rough, rocky hills from Milltown to Greensburg until I went back and saw for myself. They just simply dodged the hills and followed the creeks and branches, but it's wonderful. I was truly glad to see it.")

This story was posted on 2023-09-16 10:44:44
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