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Creelsboro and the Cumberland: A Living History is a one-hour, public television documentary presenting the culture and history of a farming community along the Cumberland River in Russell County, Kentucky. The program combines interviews of residents with archival images, landscapes, aerial video, architectural surveys and original artwork for a compelling look at the history of the Creelsboro area, and its intimate connection to the Cumberland River. The program follows Janie-Rice Brother, Principal Scholar and Architectural Historian, as she documents life in the Creelsboro Rural Historic District, which extends from Wolf Creek Dam to Rockhouse Natural Bridge in south-central Kentucky. At the beginning of her research, Ms. Brother states, “I hope to learn not only about the history of the rural historic district, but what patterns emerge throughout that history and what people value about their roots and their stories in this river valley, and what they would like the rest of the world to know.”

Creelsboro and the Cumberland: A Living History is the seventh episode in The Kentucky Archaeology & Heritage Series, which is produced by Voyageur for the Kentucky Archaeological Survey (KAS), a program within theFolk Studies and Anthropology Department of Western Kentucky University. The series is provided to Kentucky Educational Television (and other public tv stations) for broadcast and school distribution (streaming video). The Creelsboro project features four components: A) a one-hour, public television documentary; B) a companion website; C) educational materials; and D) a digital media archive.

Creelsboro Rural Historic District

Creelsboro and the Cumberland: A Living History is part of a mitigation plan surrounding construction of the U.S. Route 127 bypass, which is being moved off Wolf Creek Dam. The Creelsboro Rural National Register Historic District (see map) includes commercial buildings associated with the town of Creelsboro, nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century residential houses and associated outbuildings, cemeteries, and historic sites. It is associated with Swan Pond Bottom, Jackman Bottom (aka erroneously identified as Long Bottom), Salt Lick Bottom, Creelsboro Bottom, and Well’s Bottom. The district extends about ten miles along the Cumberland River, from Wolf Creek Dam to Rockhouse Natural Bridge in Russell and Clinton counties in south-central Kentucky. Established in the early 1800s, Creelsboro was the center of community life for those living in these bottoms. With the advent of the steamboat, the community thrived and was a bustling town. Located within the historic district is Rockhouse Natural Bridge, a prominent geographical feature that is associated with the seventh largest massive river meander in the U.S. The meander was designated a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service in 1987. Rockhouse Natural Bridge was an important cultural landscape feature that was focus of many social and religious events

Creelsoro Aerial Preview Video


This Creelsboro Aerial Preview Video (5:07 minutes) was compiled from drone video recorded by Voyageur and Michael Benedic, LuSee Media, in October of 2015. The video captures breathtaking views of the Cumberland River, steep ridges, pastoral farmlands and the town of Creelsboro.

Creelsboro Team

Advisors: Janie-Rice Brother, Architectural Historian and Principal Scholar; Dr. David Pollack, Director, Kentucky Archaeological Survey; Dr. Gwynn Henderson, Education Director, Kentucky Archaeological Survey; Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: Amanda Abner, Historic Preservation Program Coordinator; Dan Davis, Cultural Historic Branch Manager; Carl Shields, Staff Archaeologist.

Production Team: Voyageur Media Group, Inc.: Tom Law, Project Director/Writer/Producer; Beth Fowler, Director of Photograph. Postproduction, Matt Davis, editfreak. Narrator, Aaron Sharpe. Original Artworks, Dennis Thrasher. Original Music, Eli Bedel, Musician and Arrangements; Randy Campbell, Sound Engineer, KPG Creative. Aerial Video, Michael Benedic, LuSee Media. Project Maps, Jim Giles. Title Design, Audrey Law.

Project Participants: Jalena Barnes, Wilbur Barnes, Robert and Robbie Bell, Cindy Campbell, Michael Campbell, John (Brack) Flanagan, James Fugate, James Gray, Judy McClure Hachey, Janette Marson, Leo Glynn Mann, Gordon Miller, Margaret Miller, The Reverend Phillip Miller, Darren Polston, James Polston, Robert Porter, Leonard Reeder, Judy Lawless Smith, Carole Tupman.

Family Archives: Barnes Family, Bell Family, Campbell Family, Flanagan Family, McClure Hachey Family, Mann Family, Marson Family, Polston Family, Porter Family, Reeder Family, Smith Family, Tupman Family.

Artworks: (See Education page) Dennis Thrasher (commissioned for two original artworks), Robert Dafford, Andrew Knez, Jr., Rex Robinson, Dennis Thrasher, Fred Thrasher, Susan Walton, David Wright.

Music: (See Education page) Eli Bedel, Original old-time soundtrack; Eric Gray “Amazing Grace”; Pond 5, “Beautiful Piano and Strings/Careful Hearts” Josh Kramer, TuneLite; “Canyonlands,” Matt Hirt, Groove Committee; “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” Andrew White, deepsound.

Archives: Adair County Public Library, Ernestine Bennett; Cincinnati Museum Center; Creelsboro Christian Church; Fisk University Archives; Google Earth Pro; Parker H. Jackman Photographs, Nora Cole, Vonnie Kolbenschlag, George Kolbenschlag, Michael Watson; Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, Center for Mollusk Conservation, Monte McGregor; Kentucky Heritage Council; Kentucky Historical Society; Kentucky Transportation Cabinet; Lexington Public Library; Library of Congress; Louisville Courier Journal; National Archives; Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County, Inland Rivers Collection; Russell County Public Library; Tennessee State Library and Archives; University of Kentucky; University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, Historic Steamboat Photograph Collection; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S.A.C.E. Digital Library; Tammy Kirk, Librarian, Nashville District; Creelsboro Survey 1989, Barcon Inc. Environmental Services; U.S. Geological Survey; Western Kentucky University, Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology; Special Collections Library, Folklife Archives, William Lynwood Montell Collection.

Organizations: Center for Mollusk Conservation, Monte McGregor; Columbia Magazine; Creelsboro Christian Church; Creelsboro Church of the Nazarene; Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc., Brian DelCastello; Pirates of the Cumberland Guide Service, James Fugate; Russell County Public Library, Kristina Daffron; Temple Hill Church, Rev. Phillip Miller; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District/Wolf Creek Dam: Tom Hale, Operations Manager; Tammy Kirk, Librarian, Nashville District; Valerie McCormack, Archaeologist; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services; Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, James Gray, Project Leader.

Special thanks: Creelsboro Reunion Committee: Robert Bell (chair), Barry Back, Doris Ann Burgess, Michael Campbell, John (Brack) Flanagan, Donnie Gilbert, Brenda Higginbotham, Gary Lawless, Karen Lawless, Judy Campbell York, Sue Ann Zimmerman.