Henderson County, Kentucky Community


In 1897, three men from Spottsville went up river about 15 miles and opened a slope mine. Two of the partners were brothers, R.H. and J.W. Shiver, and the third was a brother-in-law, J.T. Lynch. S.W. Langley suggested the name of Utopia because of the beauty of the location. Most of the coal was sold on the river to packet boats, plying from Evansville to Bowling Green, and to tie boars, carrying railroad ties from the forests.

In its heyday, Utopia had ten houses, one store, a blacksmith shop, and a water system. Every house had an outdoor hydrant, fed by a water tank filled with river water. (Green River was so free from pollution that no treatment was necessary!) The mine produced 200 tons of No. 9 coal per day and the miners received at least part of their wages in "punch-outs" which were cards that could be used at the company store and in trade with local farmers.

The Shivers acquired a telephone by providing and setting the poles. A new frame schoolhouse was built and called Utopia School, replacing an old log building some distance away where pupils sat on puncheon benches without desks. The new school had "store-bought" desks. It also required a drilled well and one day when the driller needed to go to the store to use the telephone he invited a schoolboy to go with him. The 70-year-old boy still remembers the thrill of his first ride in an automobile; also that dark caught them and the driver stopped to activate the tank on the running board and used a match to light the carbide headlights.

The mine closed in 1917 and nothing is left of the once thriving village.

from The Annals and Scandals of Henderson County, Ky.
By Maralea Arnett

Contributed by Leigh Ann Boucher, HCH&GS
Copyright 2002 HCH&GS