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Kentucky Coal Mining Museum, Benham

#43 of 125 in Museums in Kentucky
Must see · History Museum · Specialty Museum
The Kentucky Coal Museum is heritage center located in Benham, Kentucky. Its focus is the history of the coal industry in Eastern Kentucky, featuring specific exhibits on the company towns of Benham and neighboring Lynch. It is housed in a former company store that was built by International Harvester in 1923. In June 1990, the Tri-City Chamber of Commerce purchased the building for the future site of the museum. After receiving additional grants from the state of Kentucky, the museum opened in May 1994.
The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum features exhibits on a miner's home, a company hospital, commissary, and school; engineering, coal sampling, a mock mine tour and the Loretta Lynn "Coal Miner's Daughter" exhibit.
In 2009, the museum began to coordinate tours of the nearby Portal 31 Mine, which opened in 1917 in Lynch, Kentucky. The thirty-minute tour of the mine involves eight stops that chronologically depict a different era in coal mining, ranging from the 1910s to present-day.
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Kentucky Coal Mining Museum reviews

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  • A great museum all about coal mining in the area. Four floors of exhibits of everyday life, life down in the mines, and a few songwriters and singers from the area. Lots and lots of information. We....  more »
  • I’m not from Harlan County but in my time living here I have come to see how much mining and the history of mining is deeply woven into the fabric of this region. So I knew at some point I had to...  more »
  • This impressive museum contains a wide variety of items on four levels, including a gift shop. I enjoyed touring it with my mom, a sister, and a niece on Saturday, July 13, 2019. The museum contains displays related to various aspects of coal mining operations, including old mining caps, lights, and various pieces of equipment. But, it also includes displays of other aspects of a coal miner's life: a barber shop, a home’s furnishings, a hospital room, a store, and a soda/sandwich shop. A display related to Loretta Lynn who grew up in southeastern Kentucky includes at least two dresses that she wore. A portion of the basement includes a mock mine with an entrance about 54 inches in height which allows one to experience a bit of what it’s like to be underground. As you seek to walk or crawl around it, think about the fact that many mines in southeastern Kentucky are significantly less than 54 inches high. An elevator is available in addition to stairs for traveling between the four levels. Admission to the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum is $8 for adults, with cheaper prices for senior citizens and children. Please try to visit this museum if you are in the area. I urge persons who visit the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham to also visit nearby Lynch, Kentucky where an exhibition mine can be toured, and various old company structures can be seen, and there is a train locomotive and train car that persons can climb into, etc.
  • A fascinating collection of historical pieces from the lives of coal miners and their families. Family- friendly exhibits. Very interesting and educational.

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