With a population of about 65,385, Paducah, Kentucky may pass for a small town, but it is the largest city in the Jackson Purchase area and packed full of history, tradition, and charm. Paducah’s historical milestones creates it’s tight-knit community that thousands travel from all over to visit.
Settled in 1815, Paducah was originally known as Pekin, located on the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. The riverfront made the area a hub for trading goods and services for early European and Native American inhabitants.
In 1827, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Mississippi-Missouri, William Clark laid out the land and renamed the town Paducah after the Padouca Indians, the largest group to roam the area.
Paducah was a thriving city from the start, as steamboats, factories, and railroads contributed to Paducah’s early economic boom. After Paducah was chartered as a city in 1856, it became the railway center for the Illinois Central Railroad because of its close proximity to coal fields in Kentucky and Illinois.
A flood wall painted with colorful, vibrant murals sits in downtown Paducah, and it is eye-catching for locals and visitors in the city. Although, the wall was built after Paducah experienced the worst natural disaster in its history book. January 1937 began with two weeks of heavy rain followed by a sleet storm, causing many residents to evacuate their homes and prompting the chairman of the Red Cross to deploy an emergency plan. Within a few days, the waters reached 60.8 feet high and over 90 percent of the city was under water.
When the waters lowered, residents returned to a disheveled city. The United States Army Corps of Engineers built a levee to protect Paducah from another natural disaster. The flood wall murals share narratives of Paducah’s history.
After World Wat II, the United States Atomic Energy Commission selected Paducah as the site of a new Uranium Enrichment Plant. The Uranium Plant signified another milestone in the Paducah’s history.
About 35 years after the development of the uranium plant, the American Quilter’s Society held its first quilt show in Paducah and in 1991, Paducah established the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society (MAQS). Quilters from all over will gather in the heart of Paducah for quilt week in both the Fall and Spring.
With its rich history, Paducah is now home to many museums, like the Paducah Railroad Museum, River Discovery Museum, Lloyd Tilghman Civil War Museum and the William Clark Market House Museum. The downtown area hosts festivals like BBQ on the River, LowerTown Arts and Music Festival, and PaBREWcah Beer Fest. The city is a hub for creativity and innovation.
Art, music, history, and the friendly faces around town create a warm, family-friendly community that is Paducah, Kentucky.
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