About Pike County
Pike County traces its humble origins all the way back to the December of 1821. The General Assembly divided the vast expanse that was young Floyd County at the intersection of several natural boundaries, and, in honor of Army brigadier general and famed explorer Zebulon Pike Jr., declared the new county to be called and known as Pike. The county seat, Pikeville, was officially chartered by Governor John Young Brown in 1893.
At nearly 800 square miles of land area, dissected by an extensive network of almost 500 miles of classified roads, Pike is geographically the largest of Kentucky's counties and a major economic player in Appalachia. Bolstered by rich fossil fuels reserves, Pike County produces the most coal of all of the counties, accounting for a fifth of Kentucky's annual coal supplies. The central hub of the region, the county is well-situated as the nucleus of interstate commerce and transport for all of eastern Kentucky.
Pike County is home to one of the country's largest and most ambitious civil engineering works. The Pikeville Cut-Through Project, a 3 phase, $76.6 million venture, is an impressive feat of earthworks. The Army Corps of Engineers rock cut program displaced 18 million cubic yards of rock and soil, diverted the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River away from the town, created over 400 acres of useable land, and allowed for the construction of a four-lane highway. Measuring 1,300 feet wide, 3,700 feet long, and 523 feet deep, it is one of the largest civil engineering projects in the western hemisphere.
The University of Pikeville, or UPike, is based in downtown Pikeville. The college, established in 1889, became accredited to reward associate's degrees in 1909 and bachelor's degrees by 1955. UPike established its College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1997; it is one of only 29 such colleges in America, and it is among the smallest in the country to do so.
The 18th president of the University of Pikeville is former Kentucky governor Paul E. Patton. Governor Patton served the Commonwealth from two terms of office - 1995-2003. He is a longtime resident of Pike County, having co-founded Kentucky Elkhorn Coal, Inc (based in Virgie) in 1961. He would later go on to serve two full terms as Pike County's Judge-Executive from 1982-1990, and a partial third term before being elected to the office of lieutenant governor.
Culturally, Pike County is nationally renowned for hosting the annual Hillbilly Days Festival. Hillbilly Days, held in mid-April in downtown Pikeville, is a celebration of Appalachian arts, crafts, and music. Initially begun in 1976 as a fundraiser for the Shriners Children's Hospital in Lexington, it has grown over the decades to become Kentucky's second largest festival. All proceeds from the festival continue to go to the Shriners Children's Hospita; a system of non-profit hospitals which provide pediatric care (regardless of ability to pay,) professional education, and medical research.
Pike County was founded on December 19, 1821. The county was named for General Zebulon Pike, the explorer who discovered Pikes Peak. On May 6, 1893, Pikeville officially became a city and the county seat.
Pike County is Kentucky's largest county in terms of land area. According to the 2010 census, the county has a total area of 788.84 square miles, of which 787.69 square miles is land and 1.15 square miles is water. Also according to the 2010 census, the population was 65,024 which makes Pike County the 11th largest county in Kentucky in terms of population.
Pike County has trademarked itself as America's Energy CapitalTM, because of its vast coal and natural gas reserves. Pike County is one of the nation's leading coal and natural gas producers. More coal is produced in Pike County than any other county in the state. Pike County annually produces around 20% of all Kentucky coal.
Pike County is Kentucky's third largest banking center, with financial institutions and holding companies having more than $1 billion in assets.
Pike County is home to 59th Governor Paul E. Patton. Governor Pattton served from 1995-2003. He now serves as President of the University of Pikeville. The University of Pikeville also
Other notes of interest are the Pikeville Cut-Through Project which is one of the largest civil engineering projects in the western hemisphere, moving nearly 18,000,000 cubic yards of soil and rock, compared to the Panama Canal that moved 240 million cubic yards.