Country Music Highway
Check out the home towns of Loretta Lynn, the Judds, and other country music stars
Fire up a Ricky Skaggs tune and your car’s engine and hit this winding ribbon of mountain road for a one-of-a-kind Kentucky adventure. Highway 23, the ‘Country Music Highway’, winds 144 miles along the state’s craggy eastern backbone, from Greenup County in the north to Letcher County in the south. Besides visual splendour, this National Scenic Byway provides an introduction to many musical legends who have emerged from these ancient Appalachian hills and hollows. Highway markers signal the home towns of country stars Skaggs, Patty Loveless, The Judds, Billy Ray Cyrus, Crystal Gayle, Hylo Brown, Gary Stewart, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Dwight Yoakam and many more.
Allow two days for a leisurely exploration of the road, which connects the towns of Greenup and Whitesburg. Along the midway point, near Paintsville, lies legendary Butcher Hollow, where a dusty gravel road leads to the humble log cabin in which the Queen of Country Music, America’s beloved ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’, Loretta Lynn, was born on April 14, 1935. Today, her brother, Herman Webb, still gives tours of the family home. Nearby in Staffordsville sits the Mountain Homeplace, an 1850s working farm with blacksmith barn, church and gift shop, where quilts, painted gourds and handmade dolls are sold. TV’s John Boy Walton himself (actor Richard Thomas, a native of these parts) narrates a film about the early Appalachian settlers, who first arrived in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
In Prestonsburg, visit the Mountain Arts Center, a performance hall that’s home to the Kentucky Opry, a musical variety show modelled on the one in Nashville, Tennessee.
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Trip idea text ©Patricia Schultz. For contact information about the places mentioned and many more USA trip ideas, see Patricia Schultz's blockbuster book.