NORTONVILLE atticfacts1

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (11/15/12) - Shhhh… I’m hunting deer or I’m in the Nortonville Library. I’m not sure which. Both are out in the country for this big city boy. You didn’t know Madisonville was a big city? Why certainly. Any town with two Burger Kings and two McDonald’s is big. Oh wait, we are down to one McDonald’s. But we got three Dollar General’s so we must be big.

Anyway, I’ve got to be quiet. I’m hunting atticfacts in the outskirts of Hopkins County. It is hunting season. My hunting guide for this journey is noted, respected hunter Martha Bowman. Martha hides out in a blind down in a lil valley in Nortonville. She’s got quite the location for spying some unusual and unique Hopkins County collections.

You see, right across the hall from the Nortonville Library, which is located in a section of the old Nortonville School just downhill in the same building from the now city offices, is a huge room filled with Nortonville historical treasures.

Ms. Martha serves as the librarian and museum host…. OH, OH I SEE ELVIS!


Whoops, that’s the problem with hunting with Martha. You get that shhh…often. But I did see Elvis. There’s a section dedicated to the highly sought after hip shaker and is quiet DEAR to a lot of hunters.

The Nortonville museum is filled wall to wall with not only historical items closely related to Nortonville and southern Hopkins County, but also with a great range of Nortonville citizen’s own historical national mementoes, such as the Elvis collection.

The schools, the businesses and the people are scattered throughout the large room. And individual exhibits to the work the people of Nortonville have participated over the years. A coal section, a railroad section, even a section where you’ll see Nortonville’s Jim Walker’s encounter with a President, there is a lot of well thought out sections to explore in the museum.

Photos, books and magazines are mixed in to each display to provide hunters the option for further details beyond the subject matter. It’s a brilliant design of display that gives the patron the option to further explore and learn, instead of just a railroaders hat, the Nortonville Museum has went that next step in providing documentation to help your discovery of the past.

The museum belongs to the citizens of Nortonville… and Hopkins County. It is them, people like Jess McGary that have shared some of the prizes of their lifelong hunts for the displays. Doesn’t really matter what kind of hunter you are, when you find that big prize that’s been hard to get, there is a natural tendency to show it off on the wall. Nortonville is lucky that the city officials have shared their space and that the library took on such a huge project to include a museum as part of their educational resources.

It’s a hidden treasure for Hopkins County. It’s one of the reasons we are such a sought after location for hunters…. history hunters.

The Nortonville Museum, the Hopkins County Historical Society, the Hopkins County Genealogical Society, the Dawson Springs Museum and Arts Center are all well stocked in history. We are lucky it’s ours to use.

nortonville atticfacts2

The Nortonville Museum and the adjoining Library is open for the remainder of 2012 on Tuesdays from 8:30-5, Wednesday 12-3, and Thursday 2-5. And by the way, the library is just as impressive as the Museum for being well stocked with an eclectic selection of knowledge to gain.

Speaking of the Dawson Springs Museum and Art Center, they will be closing in December and in to early 2013 to begin work on a building project. A historical building grant will be put to use to do some work forcing the center to be closed until tentatively sometime in February to allow work to be done. When we get the word they are reopened we’ll let you know.

An interesting program is in store Tuesday night at 7 at the Madisonville Art Center, the old Madisonville train depot on Arch Street. The Hopkins County Genealogical Society’s monthly meeting will feature a guest speaker to discuss the Orphan Train. Genealogical librarian Theresa Ray shares that the Orphan Train which ran from 1854-1929 and placed some 200,000 orphans is said to have placed some kids in Hopkins County. The program is free to guest. Should be interesting topic and what I like about attending events at the old depot is that usually at some point a train shakes, rattles and chug-a-lugs it’s way within a few feet of the meeting room, should be especially poignant as we learn about the Orphan Train. Besides the fact Ms. Martha can’t tell me to shhhh! while I hunt more atticfacts and folk’s tales!

Richard Cunningham is a Hopkins County native and a Kentucky Arts Council Community Scholar. Contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Writer's Note: The Orphan Train presentation has been moved to the January meeting. A Nov 27th meeting will feature Randy Teague discussing legal documents in genelogical research.

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