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Cumberland, Kentucky

Cumberland, Kentucky
Main Street downtown
Main Street downtown
Location of Cumberland in Harlan County, Kentucky.
Location of Cumberland in Harlan County, Kentucky.
Coordinates: 36°58′37″N 82°59′15″W / 36.97694°N 82.98750°W / 36.97694; -82.98750
CountryUnited States
 • Total3.15 sq mi (8.15 km2)
 • Land3.12 sq mi (8.07 km2)
 • Water0.03 sq mi (0.08 km2)
1,444 ft (440 m)
 • Total1,947
 • Estimate 
 • Density625.04/sq mi (241.34/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code606
FIPS code21-19108
GNIS feature ID0511673

Cumberland is a home rule-class city[4] in Harlan County, Kentucky, in the United States. The population according to the 2010 Census was 2,237,[5] down from 2,611 at the 2000 census. The city sits at the confluence of Looney Creek and the Poor Fork Cumberland River.[6]


Cumberland was settled in 1837 and named "Poor Fork", for its location on a fork of the Cumberland River with relatively poor soil.[7] It remained isolated until the coal mining boom of the 1900s when railroads connected it with surrounding towns. It was renamed "Cumberland" in 1926.

On July 29, 2019, a group of coal miners blocked a coal train on a track in protest when the company they worked for, Blackjewel LLC, refused to pay them after declaring bankruptcy. Blackjewel was founded in 2017, and it was one of the largest coal mining companies in the country. Its bankruptcy filing also affected employees in Virginia and Wyoming; in total about 1700 miners have been affected.[8] The miners called off the protest in late September 2019, mostly because they have found other jobs. They intend to continue their fight in court.[9]


Cumberland is located in northeastern Harlan County at 36°58′37″N 82°59′15″W / 36.97694°N 82.98750°W / 36.97694; -82.98750 (36.977016, -82.987434)[10] in the valley of the Poor Fork of the Cumberland River, where it is joined by Looney Creek from the southeast and Cloverlick Creek from the south. The city limits extend to the north up to the crest of Pine Mountain, which forms the Letcher County line. Elevations within the city range from 1,400 feet (430 m) above sea level along the Poor Fork on the west side of town to 2,700 feet (820 m) atop Pine Mountain.

U.S. Route 119 passes through Cumberland, passing south of the city center. US 119 leads northeast 34 miles (55 km) to Jenkins and southwest 22 miles (35 km) to Harlan, the Harlan County seat. Kentucky Route 160 passes through the center of Cumberland, leading southeast 2.5 miles (4.0 km) to Benham and 12 miles (19 km) to the Virginia border, and north over Pine Mountain 5 miles (8 km) to Gordon.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city of Cumberland has a total area of 3.1 square miles (8.1 km2), of which 0.03 square miles (0.08 km2), or 0.95%, are water.[5]


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Cumberland has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[11]


Historical population
2022 (est.)1,845[12]−5.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]

As of the census[14] of 2000, there were 2,611 people, 1,076 households, and 723 families residing in the city. The population density was 570.5 inhabitants per square mile (220.3/km2). There were 1,288 housing units at an average density of 281.4 per square mile (108.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.60% White, 5.09% African American, 0.50% Native American, 0.04% Asian, 0.04% from other races, and 0.73% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.84% of the population.

There were 1,076 households, out of which 31.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.7% were married couples living together, 16.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 25.5% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $15,929, and the median income for a family was $22,365. Males had a median income of $34,327 versus $13,750 for females. The per capita income for the city was $9,835. About 31.5% of families and 38.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 56.3% of those under age 18 and 19.5% of those age 65 or over.


Cumberland is home to the main campus of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

Cumberland has a lending library, a branch of the Harlan County Public Library.[15]

Arts and culture

Cumberland is home to Kingdom Come State Park, which features a lake, gift shop, camp sites, miniature golf, paddle boating, picnic facilities, primitive camping, hiking trails, and an amphitheatre. The park is home to natural rock formations including Raven Rock and Log Rock. Two overlooks in the park provide scenic views of the Appalachian Mountains.

Cumberland is home to the annual Kingdom Come Swappin' Meetin', a festival honoring Appalachian history, folklore, and products. The festival is held on the campus of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Cumberland. The festival includes live demonstrations of Appalachian methods and traditions. The most recent festival is the annual Black Bear Festival, in honor of the popular black bears at Kingdom Come State Park.

See also


  1. ^ "Cumberland".
  2. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ "Summary and Reference Guide to House Bill 331 City Classification Reform" (PDF). Kentucky League of Cities. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Cumberland city, Kentucky". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved June 28, 2017.[dead link]
  6. ^ "Geographic Names Information System". Retrieved September 9, 2023.
  7. ^ Rennick, Robert M. (1987). Kentucky Place Names. University Press of Kentucky. p. 75. ISBN 0813126312. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  8. ^ JOSIAH BATES (August 12, 2019), "Blocking Coal Train Railroad Tracks Over Wage Complaints, a Protest by Kentucky Miners Is Now Entering Its Third Week", Time, retrieved September 29, 2019
  9. ^ Polo Sandoval; Steve Almasy (September 29, 2019), "Kentucky miners, still seeking back pay, end coal train protest after two months", CNN, retrieved September 29, 2019
  10. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  11. ^ Climate Summary for Cumberland, Kentucky
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  14. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  15. ^ "Kentucky Public Library Directory". Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Archived from the original on January 11, 2019. Retrieved June 5, 2019.

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