|Named for||The Barrens, a region of grassland in Kentucky|
|• Total||500 sq mi (1,000 km2)|
|• Land||488 sq mi (1,260 km2)|
|• Water||12 sq mi (30 km2) 2.5%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||87/sq mi (34/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
Barren County is a county located in the south-central portion of the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2020 census, the population was 44,485. Its county seat is Glasgow. The county was founded on December 20, 1798, from parts of Warren and Green Counties. It was named for the Barrens, meadowlands that cover the northern third, though actually the soil is fertile. Barren County is part of the Glasgow, KY Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Bowling Green-Glasgow, KY Combined Statistical Area. In 2007 Barren County was named the "Best Place to Live in Rural America" by Progressive Farmer Magazine.
Barren County was established in 1798 from land taken from Green County and Warren County. Six courthouses have served the county throughout its history, the first built of logs.
Barren County, like most of south-central Kentucky, was settled by the Scots-Irish, and still bears many cultural aspects that trace back to that heritage. The Scottish heritage is the most evident, as indicated by the name of the county seat, which is named for Glasgow, Scotland, and is celebrated annually with the Glasgow Highland Games, one of three highland games held each year in Kentucky.
Barren was a prohibition or dry county, until voters overturned that in September 2016. Prior to that, there were two exceptions:
According to the United States Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 500 square miles (1,300 km2), of which 488 square miles (1,260 km2) is land and 12 square miles (31 km2) (2.5%) is water.
Barren River Lake is located in the southern part of the county, forming part of its boundary with Allen County. Barren River Lake State Resort Park is located primarily within Barren County, along the lake's shoreline.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 38,033 people, 15,346 households, and 10,941 families residing in the county. The population density was 78 per square mile (30/km2). There were 17,095 housing units at an average density of 35 per square mile (14/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 94.30% White, 4.09% Black or African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.38% from other races, and 0.65% from two or more races. 0.93% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 15,346 households, out of which 31.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.30% were married couples living together, 9.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.70% were non-families. 25.60% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.91.
The age distribution was 24.20% under the age of 18, 8.20% from 18 to 24, 28.80% from 25 to 44, 23.80% from 45 to 64, and 15.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $31,240, and the median income for a family was $37,231. Males had a median income of $29,860 versus $21,208 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,816. About 11.80% of families and 15.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.30% of those under age 18 and 19.10% of those age 65 or over.
Christianity is the predominant religion in the county. The Southern Baptist Convention is the leading Protestant denomination in terms of adherents, with Glasgow Baptist Church being the largest congregation in the county. Missionary Baptist, United Methodist, Free Methodist, Presbyterian (including Cumberland Presbyterian), Episcopalian, Disciples of Christ, Churches of Christ including non-institutional, Assemblies of God, and numerous independent churches are located in the county, as well as two Roman Catholic parishes, an LDS ward, and a sizable Amish community. No Jewish, Muslim, or other religions are known to have houses of worship within the county.
Barren County is primarily rural in nature, with agriculture as the primary industry. Glasgow, the county seat, has numerous manufacturing facilities, and is also a medical and retail hub for the area. Cave City is also a popular lodging area for tourists visiting nearby Mammoth Cave National Park.
Like Kentucky and most of the counties in the State, the Democratic Party has the most registered voters; however the county hasn't voted for the Democratic Presidential candidate since 1992—-and even then, it was by a margin of less than 2%. 51.57% of the voters are registered to the Democratic Party, and 41.73% are registered Republicans.
|Barren County Voter Registration & Party Enrollment as of December 18, 2017|
|Political Party||Total Voters||Percentage|
|2019||58.15% 7,693||39.91% 5,280||1.94% 256|
|2015||57.40% 5,289||38.72% 3,568||3.88% 358|
|2011||38.22% 3,003||56.31% 4,425||5.47% 430|
|2007||47.41% 5,279||52.59% 5,856||0.00% 0|
|2003||56.53% 5,065||43.47% 3,895||0.00% 0|
|1999||17.33% 598||75.83% 2,616||6.84% 236|
|1995||45.38% 3,882||54.62% 4,672||0.00% 0|
The county is home to all or part of three school districts:
Barren County is served by Interstate 65, which goes through the northwest part of the county, and the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway, a former toll road that was designated to be part of the future Interstate 66 corridor before that project was scrapped. U.S. Routes 31E, 31W, and 68 also pass through the county.
Railroad service is provided by CSX Transportation, whose former Louisville and Nashville Railroad main line passes through Cave City and Park City. The Glasgow Railway Company is a short line which owns a branch from Park City (which was formerly called Glasgow Junction) to Glasgow; the line is serviced via an operating lease by CSX.
Barren County's industry includes these companies:
Cave City's main industry in Barren County's economy is tourism, thanks to its proximity to Mammoth Cave National Park, which is one of the top ten most visited attractions in Kentucky. A number of motels and restaurants are located at the interchange of Interstate 65 and state routes 70 and 90, which cater to tourists visiting the area or just passing through, thereby making Cave City, and much of northwest Barren County, a tourism hot-spot. The city operates a small convention center that is popular with church groups and other family-related organizations, mainly because of the area's lack of crime and abundance of tourist attractions. Cave City has long been a gateway to Mammoth Cave; in the era of passenger rail travel, trains of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad would discharge tourists there, who would then be shuttled to the cave. The agricultural industry is also a big factor in the area's economy. For more information, see the Barren County Economic Authority's website (www.BarrenCoEa.com).
Events include, but are not limited to, the following: