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Kentucky Counties
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Kentucky Counties

Kentucky has one hundred and twenty counties, third in the US behind Texas's (254) and Georgia's (159.) Washington County was the first county formed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky when it reached statehood, and the sixteenth county formed

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Whitley County, Kentucky

Whitley County Education, Geography, and HistoryWhitley County, Kentucky Courthouse

Whitley County is a county situated in the state of Kentucky. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 35,637. The county seat is at Williamsburg, though the largest city is Corbin, and the county's District Court (a trial court of limited jurisdiction) sits in both cities.

Whitley County is included in the London, KY Micropolitan Statistical Area

Etymology - Origin of Whitley County Name

The namesake of the county, Colonel William Whitley, is famous locally for fighting many of these battles within the area, safeguarding the Wilderness Road, as well as for his service in the War of 1812, where he was killed at the Battle of the Thames. The county seat, Williamsburg, is also named for Colonel Whitley, with the first court held at the home of the town's earliest resident, Samuel Cox


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

Whitley County History

Whitley County was created on January 17, 1818 from adjacent Knox County, Kentucky. In the years prior to its establishment as an independent county, many skirmishes were fought between native Indians and hunters and trappers in the area. It is located in the Eastern Coal Field region of the state. The elevation in the county ranges from 723 to 2220 feet above sea level. In 2000 the county population was 35,865 in a land area of 440.15 square miles, an average of 81.5 people per square mile. The county seat is Williamsburg.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 445 square miles (1,150 km2), of which 438 square miles (1,130 km2) is land and 7.3 square miles (19 km2) (1.6%) is water.

Whitley County is located within the Cumberland Plateau of southeastern Kentucky, which is greatly overlapped by the broad Eastern Coal Field region of the state. Because of its location in the midst of Cumberland Mountains, elevations in the county range from 723 feet (220 m) to 2,220 feet (680 m) above sea level. 38,000 acres (150 km2) of western Whitley County are preserved within the Daniel Boone National Forest. Cumberland Falls, located in Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, is the site of the largest waterfall in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Both Daniel Boone Forest and Cumberland Falls State Park are operated by the Kentucky State Parks system, also located in the county. Two regionally significant waterways meander through the county, namely the Laurel and Cumberland river.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • North: Laurel County
  • Northeast: Knox County
  • East: Bell County
  • Southeast: Claiborne County, Tenn.
  • South: Campbell County, Tenn.
  • West: McCreary County



Three public school districts serve the county:

Whitley County School District
Williamsburg Independent School District
Corbin Independent School District

Colleges and universities

The University of the Cumberlands (formerly known as Cumberland College), located in Williamsburg, is the largest private university in Kentucky, and the only university with its main campus in Whitley County. The school's sports teams play on the NAIA level and provide college level sporting events for the local community. In addition, Eastern Kentucky University maintains a branch campus in the Whitley County portion of Corbin.

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