Is it in the water or just the family genes? U.S. Highway 23, which winds down the eastern coast of the state from Ashland to the Virginia border, was dedicated as the Country Music Highway in 1994. This was to honor the stars that were born in this region. Top stars include Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, Billy Ray Cyrus, Wynonna & Naomi Judd, Ricky Skaggs, Gary Stewart, Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoakam, and Hylo Brown. Many still come home to perform at the Paramount Arts Center (a restored Paramount movie house) in Ashland and the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg. Both facilities offer entertainment in state-of-the-art facilities.
Coal mining has been the backbone of this region of the state and museums and even a tour into an actual coal portal are available for the visitor to learn the history and culture of the area. Visit the Coal Miners’ Museum in Van Lear (just down the road from Butcher Hollow, the birthplace of Loretta Lynn), the Portal 31 Mine Tour in Lynch (a true underground experience) and the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham (explore four floors or the industry’s history).