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Morehead is a city of Rowan Countymarker, Kentuckymarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 5,914 at the 2000 census. The city is named for Gov. James T. Morehead. Most of Rowan county now has the ZIP code 40351 or 40313. It is the county seat of Rowan Countymarker . Morehead State Universitymarker is located here. It was also the focal point of the Rowan County War.


It is believed that a party of surveyors from Pennsylvania, led by George William Thompson, first explored the area around Triplett Creek in the summer of 1773. The first settlers of the area came mostly from Virginia to claim land grants for service in the Revolutionary War. Many of these people settled in fertile valleys along the Licking River and Triplett Creek. One of the first communities to develop was Farmers, located in the western part of the county on the Licking River. It was settled by Maj. Jim Brain, who established a hotel at the junction of two roads. Clearfield, located just south of Morehead, was settled by Dixon Clack in the early nineteenth century and grew around his water-powered sawmill and store. Morehead was probably the third community to be established in the county and likewise grew around a sawmill, which was operated by Jake Wilson. It became the county seat when Rowan County was founded in 1856.

By the 1860s Rowan County was made up of a scattering of small communities. Corn was the dominant crop and timbering the major industry, with logs floated down Triplett Creek and the Licking River. During the Civil War, the residents of the county were often threatened with attack by guerrillas who, on March 21, 1864, burned the new county courthouse. On June 12, 1864, Gen. John Hunt Morgan's Confederate cavalry camped near Farmers.

Although stone, coal, and timber were the county's main resources, they were not exploited in great quantities until the Elizabethtown, Lexington & Big Sandy Railroad arrived in the county in the early 1880s. The town of Farmers expanded quickly and was the largest city in the county until most of the timber was depleted around 1900. Rodburn, Eadston, and Brady also grew as lumber towns situated on the railroad. Rockville and Bluestone developed as rock quarry centers.

To serve the mining and logging operations, several small railroads were built in Rowan County. The largest was the Morehead & North Fork Railroad (later abandoned), which by 1908 connected the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad at Morehead with Redwine in Morgan County. Numerous tributary spur lines extending from it moved products of the mills and mines to Morehead. Two other short lines in the county were the Kentucky Northern Railroad, which hauled logs from 1896 until its abandonment in 1900, and the Christy Creek Railroad, built by the General Refractories Company to haul clay from 1920 until 1948, when it was abandoned.

Moonlight School founded in 1911 by Cora Stewart
In the 1880s, Morehead became the central stage for a notorious conflict known as the Rowan County War (aka the Martin-Tolliver-Logan Feud). During a number of skirmishes for the next few years, at least 20 people were killed and possibly 100 were wounded. Beginning with an election-day barroom brawl, several gunfights took place in Morehead and the surrounding countryside. Eventually, a group led by Craig Tolliver seized political control of the town and installed allies in the county Sheriff's office and the county attorney's office as well as the office of town Marshal. Several members of the opposing faction were arrested on trumped-up charges, and some were killed with the faction in power falsely claiming they had resisted arrest. The conflict gained national attention and on two occasions the Governor sent troops to maintain order with little effect. Eventually a posse of as many as 100 individuals was organized and armed by Daniel Boone Logan with the tacit consent of Governor J. Proctor Knott and Governor-elect Simon Bolivar Buckner. In a dramatic two-hour gun battle that took place in the center of Morehead, several Tollivers, including Craig Tolliver were killed and the Tollivers' control of the county was broken. Two men were later held to trial for the murder of Craig Tolliver but were acquitted.


According to the United States Census Bureau, Morehead has a total area of 9.3 square miles (24.0 km²).


As of the census of 2000, there were 5914 people, households, and families residing in the city. The population density was 640.8 people per square mile (247.4/km²). There were 2,347 housing units at an average density of 254.3/sq mi (98.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.25% White, 2.57% African American, R0.15% Native American, 1.52% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.12% from other races, and 1.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.76% of the population.

There were 2,114 households out of which 23.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.2% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.9% were non-families. 36.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.81.

The age distribution, strongly influenced by Morehead State Universitymarker, is: 15.5% under the age of 18, 34.6% from 18 to 24, 20.6% from 25 to 44, 16.6% from 45 to 64, and 12.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females there were 88.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,014, and the median income for a family was $34,375. Males had a median income of $23,950 versus $19,455 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,415. About 16.7% of families and 26.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.8% of those under age 18 and 15.6% of those age 65 or over.


As of 2000, Rowan County was the home of 25 Evangelical churches, four Mainline Protestant churches, one Catholic Church and one Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) congregation. This represents a net increase of five congregations. Six congregations (all Evangelical) were established between 1990 and 2000, while one (also an Evangelical congregation) closed.

Rowan County is ranked 113th (of 120 counties in Kentucky) in overall rates of adherence, with 249 out of every 1000 residents claimed as an adherent of a religious congregation. 129 of every 1000 residents was claimed by an Evangelical congregation (116th in rank), 50 by a Mainline congregation (91st in rank), 20 by the Catholic Church, and 37 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A small number of other residents belonged to religious groups not represented in one of these categories.

Reference: Religious Congregations and Membership (2000), conducted by Glennmary Research Center ( Membership statistics from this report available through The Association of Religion Data Archives (


  • The Morehead News - Local newspaper
  • W10BM - Local television station, known for "Buy a Dog, Sell a Hog."
  • WIVYmarker 96.3 - TIMELESS FAVORITES. Local Soft Adult Contemporary format radio station known as "IVY."
  • WMKYmarker 90.3 - Morehead State Public Radio - Personalities include: Carolyn Franzini, Sasha Colette, Sandy Knipp and Bob Christian, Michelle Wallace, Paul Hitchcock and Jesse Wells.
  • WQXXmarker 106.1 - Local Top 40 radio station known as The Double X. Personalities include: Big Bill Compton, Thunder Dan Griffin, The HitchHiker, and Frank "The Tank" Woodward, with news from Steven Stone (anchor) and Jerry Grass (reporter).

Sister cities

Morehead has city partnerships with the following cities or regions:

Through Sister Cities International, Morehead has one sister city:

See also


  1. Feud In Rowan County
  2. Rowan's Progress, James McConkey, Pantheon Books, 1992.
  3. The Morehead News
  4. Morehead State Public Radio

External links

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