Salyersville, Kentucky
Downtown Salyersville
Downtown Salyersville
"The Gateway to Appalachia"[1]
Location in Magoffin County, Kentucky
Location in Magoffin County, Kentucky
Coordinates: 37°44′53″N 83°3′47″W / 37.74806°N 83.06306°W / 37.74806; -83.06306
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedMarch 2, 1867[2]
Named forSamuel Salyer, a lawmaker who sponsored the establishment of Magoffin Co.[3]
 • MayorStanley Howard
 • Total2.49 sq mi (6.45 km2)
 • Land2.47 sq mi (6.39 km2)
 • Water0.02 sq mi (0.06 km2)
853 ft (260 m)
 • Total1,591
 • Estimate 
 • Density644.39/sq mi (248.85/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code606
FIPS code21-68232
GNIS feature ID0502868

Salyersville (/ˈsæljərzvəl/)[3] is a home rule-class city[7] on the Licking River in Magoffin County, Kentucky, in the United States. It is the seat of its county.[8] As of the 2020 census, the population was 1,591,[5] down from 1,883 in 2010.


Early history

After an attempt at the first settlement in 1794,[9] the hill overlooking the bend of the Licking River just downriver from the present town was fortified and settled c. 1800 by Archibald Prater, Ebenezer Hanna, and others. Originally known as "Prater's Fort", the community had become "Licking Station" by the time of its first post office in 1839.[3]

In 1849, the post office was moved to the community at site of the present city and renamed "Adamsville" after local landowner Uncle William Adams. In addition to his farmland, Adams operated a hotel, a gristmill, a tannery and a blacksmith at the new location.[3]

In 1860, Magoffin County was formed from parts of the surrounding Floyd, Johnson, and Morgan counties. Billy Adams donated land for the platting and establishment of a new county seat, and the community was renamed "Salyersville" in gratitude to State Rep. Samuel Salyer, who sponsored the bill creating the new county.[10] The post office changed the following year.[3]

During the Civil War, Salyersville fell on hard times. Because of its location in the Upper South and its history of settlement by migrants and farmers from Virginia, some residents sided with the Confederacy, despite the general lack of slaves in the area. In 1864, Union forces defeated a Confederate raiding force in the Battle of Salyersville.

Adams gave more land to the city in 1871 for the construction of a proper courthouse.[citation needed] It was completed in 1890 and stood for 67 years before burning to the ground in 1957.[citation needed]

20th century

Salyersville's first high school, the Magoffin County Institute, was founded in 1908 by A.C. Harlowe.[citation needed]

The Great Depression hit Salyersville hard, since such a high percentage of Salyersville's citizens were laborers or farmers, who saw prices for crops fall from 40 to 60%. Nearby mining and logging operations also closed or limited production when demand for their products fell sharply. In 1939, the Licking River crested over 25 feet (7.6 m), flooding most of downtown Salyersville and causing extensive property damage.

On March 2, 2012, a mile-wide EF3 tornado caused significant damage in Salyersville.

In 1963, the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway was completed, stretching west 76 miles (122 km) from Salyersville to intersect with Interstate 64 at a point just east of Winchester. It enabled more tourists to visit the area, and heritage tourism began to help Salyersville develop a changed economy. The first annual Magoffin County Founder's Day Festival was held in 1978.

In the winter of 1997, as part of Kentucky's elk restoration project, Salyersville became one of the locations selected for the release of elk into the wilderness area of its mountains.

21st century

See also: Tornado outbreak of March 2–3, 2012

In 2002, the second Magoffin County court house (erected in 1960) was demolished. In its place, a new Justice Center was constructed, which opened in spring 2004. The new Justice Center's architecture pays tribute to Magoffin County's original courthouse.[citation needed]

On March 2, 2012, Salyersville was hit by a tornado which caused extensive damage to many businesses and many homes. There were no deaths reported. The tornado was reported an EF3. Kentucky governor Steve Beshear visited Salyersville on March 3 and toured the eastern part of the state after the tornado outbreak.


Salyersville is in central Magoffin County at 37°44'53" north, 83°3'47" west (37.748171, -83.062984),[11] in the valley of the Licking River, where it is joined from the northeast by the State Road Fork and from the southeast by the Burning Fork. The Licking River is a direct tributary of the Ohio River, joining it at Covington, Kentucky.

U.S. Route 460 passes through the center of Salyersville as Parkway Drive, South Church Street, and West Maple Street. US 460 leads northwest (downriver) 22 miles (35 km) to West Liberty and east 19 miles (31 km) to Paintsville. Kentucky Route 7 passes through downtown Salyersville with US 460 but leads southeast 36 miles (58 km) to Wayland. Kentucky Route 40 runs northeast out of Salyersville and also leads to Paintsville, reaching it in 18 miles (29 km).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city of Salyersville has a total area of 2.49 square miles (6.45 km2), of which 0.02 square miles (0.05 km2), or 0.96%, are water.[4]


The climate in this area is characterized by relatively high temperatures and evenly distributed precipitation throughout the year. The Köppen Climate System describes the weather as humid subtropical, and uses the abbreviation Cfa.[12]


Historical population
2022 (est.)1,546[13]−2.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[14]

As of the census of 2000,[8] there were 1,604 people, 646 households, and 414 families residing in the city. The population density was 758.1 inhabitants per square mile (292.7/km2). There were 710 housing units at an average density of 335.6 per square mile (129.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 99.69% White, 0.06% African American, and 0.25% Native American. 0.31% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 646 households, out of which 27.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.4% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.9% were non-families. 33.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 20.8% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 24.1% from 45 to 64, and 19.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $16,042, and the median income for a family was $23,393. Males had a median income of $26,534 versus $20,188 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,881. About 35.7% of families and 40.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 56.4% of those under the age of 18 and 34.3% of those 65 and older.


Major employers included the manufacturing company Joy Mining Machinery, which closed its Salyersville plant in 2015.[15][16] Major employers now include Logan Machinery, which opened in 2016, hiring around 70 people from the area. Coal mining was once a major employer in Salyersville; however, the last mine in Magoffin County, U.S. Coal, shut down in early 2015. Most of Salyersville's economic income is sourced out of town, in nearby areas, such as Georgetown, and Lexington, by the likes of tradesman. The biggest contributor to the workforce in the city is the school system.

Arts and culture

Cultural events and fairs

Founder's Day Theme
by year:
  • 1982 - Patrick
  • 1983 - Arnett
  • 1984 - Conley
  • 1985 - Howard
  • 1986 - Bailey
  • 1987 - Wireman
  • 1988 - Montgomery
  • 1989 - Allen
  • 1990 - Reed
  • 1991 - Minix
  • 1992 - May
  • 1993 - Risner
  • 1994 - Lykins
  • 1995 - Williams
  • 1996 - Helton
  • 1997 - Jenkins
  • 1998 - The Civil War
  • 1999 - Shepherd
  • 2000 - Magoffin County
  • 2001 - Vanderpool
  • 2002 - Miller
  • 2003 - Gullet
  • 2004 - Whitaker
  • 2005 - Hammond
  • 2006 - Veterans
  • 2007 - Carpenter
  • 2008 - Fletcher
  • 2009 - Mann
  • 2010 - Magoffin County 150th
  • 2011 - Joseph
  • 2012 - Marshall


Pioneer Village - a complex of 15 original log cabins located near downtown Salyersville that have been restored and preserved through the efforts of the Magoffin County Historical Society.[19] Together the cabins form a living history museum, where staff create displays and demonstrations of early crafts. The cabins in Pioneer Village often date back to the early 19th century. Donated cabins are disassembled with care, the logs numbered and cleaned, and they are transported and reassembled in the Pioneer Village.


Several marble monuments are located downtown near the Pioneer Village cabins, including the "Founder's Pyramid", a surname marker, a county marker, a Civil War memorial, and a memorial soldier's bell. The George "Golden Hawk Sizemore" grave and monument[20] sits at the Mouth of Oakly Cemetery, and the Tip Top coal camp marker sits at the head of the creek.[21]

Historical markers


Ramey Memorial Park - offers picnic shelters, picnic tables, a playground, a walking track, basketball courts, tennis courts, and baseball fields as well as a swimming pool (open during the summer). The park has access to a steel bridge that crosses the Licking River, connecting the park to the historic Pioneer Village and a monument commemorating veterans of war from Magoffin County.[22]


Salyersville's public schools are operated by the Magoffin County Board of Education. Public schools in the city include Magoffin County High School (mascot: the Hornets), Herald Whitaker Middle School, North Magoffin Elementary, Salyersville Elementary School, and South Magoffin Elementary.

The Magoffin County Career and Technical Center teaches students tradesman skills in the fields of welding, electrical work, carpentry, law enforcement, agriculture, and medical services.

Salyersville has a lending library, the Magoffin County Public Library.[23]


The local weekly newspapers in Salyersville include The Salyersville Independent and the Trading Post, mostly for advertising. Founded in 1921, The Salyersville Independent circulates over 4,000 copies every Thursday. It is currently owned and published by Ritt Mortimer.

Cable service in Salyersville is provided by Rick Howard Cable, Frank Howard Cable and Foothills Cooperative. Through these companies, Salyersville is provided with standard and premium cable TV service, high-speed Internet access and telephone service. Frank Howard Cable and Rick Howard Cable offer local programming via MCTV (Magoffin County Television) and MCSTV (Magoffin County School TV), a channel dedicated to local school programming. MCTV carries a daily local news media program "Your News Today."

"Your News Today" is a nightly local news broadcast that airs on Howard's Cable and Foothills Communication. It was started in 1998 by Ritt Mortimer.

Salyersville's radio stations include the local WRLV Pure Country 106.5. Stations of surrounding counties can also be heard, such as Prestonsburg's WQHY (FM) 95.5, Paintsville's WKLW (FM) 94.7, and West Liberty's Kick 102.9.

Notable people


  1. ^ "Welcome to Salyersville". City of Salyersville. Retrieved May 1, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Commonwealth of Kentucky. Office of the Secretary of State. Land Office. "Salyersville, Kentucky". Accessed 26 August 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e Rennick, Robert. Kentucky Place Names, p. 263. University Press of Kentucky (Lexington), 1987. Accessed 1 August 2013.
  4. ^ a b "2022 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Kentucky". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 1, 2023.
  5. ^ a b "P1. Race – Salyersville city, Kentucky: 2020 DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171)". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved May 1, 2023.
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Kentucky: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2022". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  7. ^ "Summary and Reference Guide to House Bill 331 City Classification Reform" (PDF). Kentucky League of Cities. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  9. ^ Thompson, George E. (2009). You Live Where?: Interesting and Unusual Facts About Where We Live. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse. p. 213. ISBN 978-1440134210. OCLC 496827454.
  10. ^ Collins, Lewis (1877). History of Kentucky. p. 536. ISBN 9780722249208.
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  12. ^ Climate Summary for Salyersville, Kentucky
  13. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Kentucky: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2022". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  14. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  15. ^ "Salyersville Magoffin County Business and Industry". Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. December 28, 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  16. ^ Top 10 of 2015
  17. ^ Founders Days
  18. ^ "Welcome!".
  19. ^ Welcome!
  20. ^ The Hicks Family
  21. ^ "Pioneer Village Memorials". Archived from the original on January 20, 2008.
  22. ^ "Ramey Memorial". Kentucky Artisan Heritage Trails. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved June 8, 2023.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  23. ^ "Kentucky Public Library Directory". Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Archived from the original on January 11, 2019. Retrieved June 7, 2019.