Creelsboro_title_logo_small copy“Creelsboro and the Cumberland: A Living History” chronicles the history and culture of a rural valley along the Cumberland River in Russell County, Kentucky. The one-hour documentary 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.

“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 and The Kentucky Heritage Council. Kentucky Educational Television distributes this series to viewers, teachers and students across the Commonwealth. The project features four components: A) a one-hour, public television documentary; B) a companion website; C) educational resources; and D) a digital media archive.


Creelsboro and the Cumberland: A Living History” premiered with broad acclaim as part of the Creelsboro Reunion festival on Saturday, September 14 in Creelsboro, Russell County, Kentucky. Over 450 people attended four screenings in the Creelsboro Church of the Nazarene. The production team is preparing the documentary for broadcasts on public television stations in Kentucky (KET) and Tennessee. Watch this space for broadcast dates and times.

Companion website

We are creating additional content for this companion website with more detailed information, images, graphics. educational materials, resource links and “behind-the-scene” videos. Watch this website for our launch later this year.

Educational resources

Dr. Gwynn Henderson, Education Director, Kentucky Archaeological Survey, is developing educational materials with her team of curriculum specialists to help teachers use this documentary project in the classroom. These educational materials will be posted on this website.

Digital Media Archive

Voyageur is working with participants on the transfer of selected materials (oral histories, family photographs) to the Russell County Public Library for research and educational purposes. Tom Law is coordinating this effort with librarian Kristina Daffron so future generations may access the oral histories and images used in this documentary project.

Creelsboro Rural Historic District

Creelsboro Rural Historic District MapThis educational media project is part of a mitigation plan to preserve the history of the Creelsboro Rural Historic District (see map), which may be impacted by the construction of a new road and bridge due to the proposed closure of U.S. Route 127 that now runs across the top of Wolf Creek Dam. The Creelsboro Rural Historic District contains a series of fertile bottomlands and ridges along the Cumberland River from Wolf Creek Dam to Rockhouse Natural Bridge in Russell County, Kentucky. The project examines the history of this section of the Cumberland River from its Euro-American settlement to the mid 1900s, including the crucial role of steamboats and ferries, which connected families to markets, schools and churches.

CR_Janie_Rice_BrotherJanie-Rice Brother, Senior Architectural Historian, is serving as the principal scholar. Ms. Brother (a farmer’s daughter) has over fifteen years of experience researching and writing about architecture, culture and communities in Kentucky. “We have heard from numerous residents whose insights are helping to shape our approach” says Janie-Rice Brother, adding, “Residents have told me to focus on the deep relationship of the people living in the valley to the Cumberland River, and to feature the voices of local residents so that they may tell their own story.”

The production team is conducting oral history interviews as the foundation for this educational media project. “Our goal is to document their first-hand accounts about daily life in this remarkable community,” says Project Director, Tom Law. Participants – some whose families have lived in the valley for eight generations – are also providing family photographs to help illustrate the story. “There are relatively few historical images of the valley in public or academic archives,” says Law. “So, each family photograph is a precious gift to future generations.”

The project includes two original artworks by Dennis Thrasher illustrating key facets of life in the valley. Creelsboro Landing, 1890s will show the importance of the Cumberland River for travel, commerce and communications. Irvin Store, 1920s presents Creelsboro during its population peak when the community gathered together on a Saturday evening.

Creelsoro Aerial Preview

The only way to truly see the rugged geography of the Creelsboro valley is from the air. On October 13, 2015, Voyageur and Michael Benedic, LuSee Media, captured breathtaking views of the Cumberland River valley using a professional drone.


Production Preview: Fishing

On October 30, 2015, Voyageur videotaped James Fugate, Pirates of the Cumberland Guide Service, to show a key aspect of the valley’s contemporary economy: world-class trout fishing.


Project Support

This educational media project is made possible with the generous support of the Federal Highway Administration, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky Archaeological Survey, Kentucky Heritage Council and Voyageur Media Group, Inc.

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