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happy? – Dec 14 (Muhlenberg County)

Abby Sale 14 Dec 05 - 08:55 AM
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Subject: happy? – Dec 14 (Muhlenberg County)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 14 Dec 05 - 08:55 AM

The Kentucky state legislature approved the formation of Muhlenberg County on 12/14/1798.
The post office closed there 11/17/1967 (ie, not much of anything/anybody left.)

        And daddy, won't you take be back to Muhlenberg County
        Down by the Green river where Paradise lay
        Well I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
        Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away.

                "Paradise" or "Muhlenberg County," John Prine

It may be the town of Paradise, Kentucky was destroyed, not by "Mr. Peabody's coal train," but by the Tennessee Valley Authority. TVA purchased land near Paradise to build a steam powered electric plant in the 1959, and by 1967 the town had completely disappeared, due to the expansion of the plant and soot from its chimneys. None of the promised "cheapest electricity in the world" ever got to local residents - it was piped elsewhere.

[Thanx to Barry W. Edwards of the Muhlenberg County Public Libraries Genealogy & Local History Annex and info at Kentucky Historical Society] The latter cited an article in the August, 1981 issue of the Kentucky Monthly magazine entitled, "What Really Happened To Paradise?" It offers a description of the town and its history.

I've read that article and it does lay out detailed history [but no documentation] and several other problems in the song's details. It says the Peabody Coal Company had nothing directly to do with Paradise; Prine, himself never lived in the area; that when people finally left there was little there anyway; that strip mining began in the area as early as 1820. I haven't heard the TVA side of the story, though.

Copyright © 2005, Abby Sale - all rights reserved
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