|Founded||December 21, 1825|
|Named for||Mountain laurel trees|
|• Total||444 sq mi (1,150 km2)|
|• Land||434 sq mi (1,120 km2)|
|• Water||9.7 sq mi (25 km2) 2.2%%|
|• Density||140/sq mi (50/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Laurel County is a county located in the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2020 census, the population was 62,613. Its county seat is London. Both London and Laurel County are growing rural communities with a great social atmosphere, job climate, and school system. After a special election in January 2016 alcohol sales are permitted only in the city limits of London. The ordinance went into effect on March 27, 2016, 60 days after results of the election. Laurel County is included in the London, KY Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Laurel County, the 80th county to be organized in Kentucky, was established by an act of the general assembly, December 21, 1825, from parts of Rockcastle, Clay, Knox and Whitley Counties. Laurel County was named from the Laurel River, noted for dense laurel thickets along its banks.
Laurel County was the location of the Battle of Wildcat Mountain, a pivotal yet little known battle during the American Civil War that kept Confederate armies from advancing on Big Hill, a major stronghold during the war.
After a fire damaged the courthouse in 1958, a new structure was completed in 1961.
The first Kentucky Fried Chicken was started in southern Laurel County by Colonel Harland Sanders just north of Corbin. Nowadays, visitors are welcomed to the original cafe and museum where they can eat at, tour, and learn about the start of the worldwide franchise. Due to the history of chicken in the county, The World Chicken Festival is celebrated every year in London, the county seat, drawing crowds of up to 250,000 people over the four-day festival.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 444 square miles (1,150 km2), of which 434 square miles (1,120 km2) is land and 9.7 square miles (25 km2) (2.2%) is water. Part of Laurel River Lake is in Laurel County.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
1990-2000 2010-2013 2019
As of the census of 2020, there were 62,613 people, 22,573 (2015-2019) households, and families residing in the county. The population density was 121 per square mile (47/km2). There were 22,317 housing units at an average density of 51 per square mile (20/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 95.66% White, 1.63% Black or African American, 0.37% Native American, 0.35% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.08% from other races, and 0.90% from two or more races. 0.55% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race.
As of the census of 2010, Laurel County was 97.00% White or European American, 0.3% Native American and 0.7% Black or African American.
There were 20,353 households, out of which 35.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.60% were married couples living together, 11.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.50% were non-families. 21.70% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 2.97.
The age distribution was 25.40% under 18, 9.20% from 18 to 24, 30.40% from 25 to 44, 23.50% from 45 to 64, and 11.50% who were 65 or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.80 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $27,015, and the median income for a family was $31,318. Males had a median income of $27,965 versus $19,757 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,165. About 17.80% of families and 21.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.80% of those under age 18 and 20.10% of those age 65 or over.
Like all of the eastern Pennyroyal Plateau and adjacent parts of the Western and Eastern Coalfields, Laurel County was strongly pro-Union during the Civil War. Consequently, the county – in common with all adjacent areas – has been rock-ribbed Republican ever since. The only Democrats to receive forty percent of the county's vote since then have been Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1932 landslide and Lyndon Johnson during an equally large landslide in 1964, although with the Republican Party mortally divided Woodrow Wilson did obtain a nine-vote plurality in 1912.*
Two public school districts serve K-12 students in the county: