Carr Creek Oral History Project

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Nicole Musgrave
  • This collection is comprised of audio-recorded interviews conducted during 2022-2023 by folklorist Nicole Musgrave with support from the Kentucky Oral History Commission. Her work was part of an effort to document the geographic and human impact of the construction of the Carr Fork Reservoir in southeastern Kentucky, which was completed in 1976. The collection’s twenty interviews with residents of Knott, Letcher and Perry Counties range in focus and content. Most of the interviewees were affected by dislocation in some way. They express different opinions about the lake and its impact on the community. Most interviewees share memories of what the area was like before the lake was built, and many have vivid memories of what the construction process was like.

Interviewee Collection Sort descending Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation
Etta Gayheart Carr Creek Oral History Project

Etta Gayheart, an octogenarian from Wolfpen, Knott County, Kentucky, has lived a life rich in experiences and memories. Born and raised in Smithboro, Kentucky, she has seen the transformation of her hometown over the years, including the construction of a lake that significantly impacted the local community. Her life story is a tapestry of personal and communal experiences, from her childhood memories of her parents and grandparents to her career as a state worker. Her father was a coal miner, and her mother worked in the local schools, cooking for the students.

Nicole Musgrave Wolfpen, KY Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Kentucky Oral History Commission
George Gibson Carr Creek Oral History Project

George Gibson is a long-time resident of Knott County, Kentucky, with a rich history and deep roots in the community. Born and raised on a farm, Gibson's early life was centered around his family's country grocery store, which served as a vibrant social hub for the local rural community. His recollections paint a vivid picture of the area's social life, filled with humorous anecdotes and stories that have shaped the area's history. Gibson's experiences extend beyond the family store, encompassing various communities and social spaces in the area.

Nicole Musgrave Knott County, KY Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Kentucky Oral History Commission
Golden Glen Hale Carr Creek Oral History Project

Golden Glen Hale is a notable figure from the Carr Creek community in Kentucky, known for his rich understanding of the local history and his personal experiences growing up in the area. Born and raised in a close-knit community, Hale's childhood was filled with games and education at Neely Elementary. His life was not without hardship, as he recalls his family's reliance on welfare and commodity cheese, and his own experiences selling newspapers as a child.

Nicole Musgrave Knott County, KY Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Kentucky Oral History Commission
Jimmy Hall Carr Creek Oral History Project

Jimmy Hall is a native of Knott County, Kentucky, with deep familial roots in the region. His ancestors, having emigrated from England, settled in Kentucky following the Revolutionary War, establishing a lineage that would endure the trials and transformations of the area. Hall's childhood unfolded in Shingle Branch, where he witnessed the construction of Carr Creek Lake—a development that would forever alter the landscape he knew.

Nicole Musgrave Sassafras, KY Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Kentucky Oral History Commission
Joe Hall Carr Creek Oral History Project

Joe Hall is a long-time resident of Knott County, Kentucky, with deep roots in the community and a wealth of personal history tied to the region. His life story is interwoven with the landscape of Knott County, from the rural farmlands of his youth to the environmental transformations that have since taken place. Hall's experiences span the educational, ecological, and cultural shifts within the area, including the evolution of local schools and the construction of significant infrastructure.

Nicole Musgrave Sassafras, KY Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Kentucky Oral History Commission
Karen Jones Cody Carr Creek Oral History Project

Karen Jones Cody is a native of Smiths Borough in Knott County, Kentucky, where she has deep familial roots and a rich personal history. As co-owner and editor of the Troublesome Creek Times, Cody has a strong connection to her community and a passion for storytelling. Her childhood was marked by a love for reading and writing, and she attended multiple schools, which likely contributed to her broad perspective and understanding of her community.

Nicole Musgrave Knott County, KY Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Kentucky Oral History Commission
Kevin Combs Carr Creek Oral History Project

Kevin Combs, a retired educator from Louisville, Kentucky, has deep familial roots in Eastern Kentucky, particularly in Knott County. His parents, Virginia Back and Watson Combs, were natives of Knott County before relocating to Louisville in search of employment opportunities. Virginia, a proud alumna of Carr Creek High School, maintained a strong affinity for her place of upbringing, a sentiment that was instilled in Kevin from a young age. Throughout his childhood, Kevin frequently visited Eastern Kentucky, where he developed a profound respect for his family's modest origins.

Nicole Musgrave Louisville, KY Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Kentucky Oral History Commission
Kyra Shiann Higgins Carr Creek Oral History Project

Kyra Higgins is a long-time resident of Redfox, Kentucky, with a deep familial and personal connection to the local landmark, Carr Creek Lake. Her life has been intertwined with the lake, from childhood memories of family gatherings to her participation in church summer programs. Higgins' experiences with the lake are not just recreational; they are also reflective as she contemplates the lake's origins and its broader implications for the community.

Nicole Musgrave Redfox, KY Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Kentucky Oral History Commission
Nancy Adams Pigman Carr Creek Oral History Project

Nancy Pigman is a native of Knott County, who spent her formative years in the small community of Litt Carr. Pigman's early experiences were shaped by the natural environment of her hometown, where outdoor activities such as fishing in the creek were a staple of her youthful adventures. Pigman's life was notably affected by the construction of a dam in her area, which resulted in the displacement of her family and others in the community. This event had a significant impact on her and is a central theme in her recollections of her past.

Nicole Musgrave Knott County, KY Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Kentucky Oral History Commission
Anne Amburgey Wagner Carr Creek Oral History Project

Anne Amburgey Wagner is a retired schoolteacher who dedicated over twenty-eight years of her life to educating elementary grade students. Born in Hazard, Kentucky, she spent her early years in a small community known as Smithboro in Knott County. Her childhood was spent in a holler, a small valley between mountains, until she was fifteen when her family relocated to London, Kentucky. Her family consisted of her parents, Dorothy Blair Amburgey and Tandy Amburgey, and her three brothers, Don, Anthony, and Gary Kevin.

Nicole Musgrave London, KY Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Kentucky Oral History Commission