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Mason County Memories


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History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News



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Stearns Kentucky part 2 History Column Dave Petersen The town of Stearns Kentucky was laid out and that first year (1902) a general store was erected, as one was erected in all of the mining camps that Stearns built in the region, next a school was built. (It became a matter of policy that a school would be built immediately after opening a new camp.) Physicians were brought in to take care of the medical needs, an employee could pay 1.50 a month to join the Stearns Sick and Accident Association and their entire family would be covered under the policy. Bath-houses were built so that the men could return home at the end of the day clean from the coal dust of the mines they worked in. A hotel was built, named the Stearns Hotel of course and that building also made its mark by being included in Ripley's "Believe it or Not" which claimed it was the only Hotel in the world where a person could enter all three floors from the ground floor of the building. The Kentucky and Tennessee Railway came into being at the same time and eventually traversed 20 miles through the hills and canyons. In order to make the crossing on the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River the largest reinforced concrete bridge in the Country was built in 1907. Another first for the little lumbering town was the building of the first all electric lumber mill in America. The Company built over 200 homes that were available for rent by employees for as little as 10.00 per month, improvements, and roads were taken care of by Stearns Coal and Lumber. The number of employees grew to more then 2,000 plus their families, which brought the total to about 10,000 people reliant on the business that Stearns Coal and Lumber could provide. The coal mined here was of the highest quality and was shipped all over the country. You might find it interesting that Coal comes with many different qualities and grades, and the naming of those grades and the mines they came out of was rather unique. Justus Stearns was a fancier of birds and the resulting naming of the "Blue Heron Mine" and grades of coal such as Stearns Golden Eagle, or Stearns Golden Pheasant. The enterprise in Stearns was began by Justus Stearns but his son Robert L Stearns came home to learn the business and work for his father and he led the development in Stearns Kentucky through several decades into the 1940's. His son Robert L Stearns Jr. came into the firm in 1925 to carry on the family business as well. If you have any photographs or stories you would like to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240 email davep@blackcreekpress.com or write in care of the Ludington Daily News PO Box 340 Ludington Mi 49431 Pic 1 The largest Reinforced Concrete bridge in the United States was built in 1907 for the Kentucky and Tennessee Railroad Pic 2 The Steel Coal Tipple at the Blue Heron Mine, this is where coal was sorted, graded and loaded onto train cars. Pic 3 Coal being hauled out of the mines on "Iron Goats" Pic 4 Robert L Stearns became the President of Stearns Enterprises in Kentucky after his father. Pic 5 The Hotel Stearns at Stearns Kentucky was included in Ripley's "Believe it or Not"

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