Birmingham, Kentucky: an 1800's Kentucky city that now rests under Kentucky Lake

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Early town and big growth

Birmingham, Kentucky was one of the first cities to be established in the state. The city was incorporated in 1860 and permanently flooded when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) built a dam on the Tennessee River in the early 1940’s.
This is a picture of downtown Birmingham, Kentucky in the 1930's.Marshall County Daily

The now submerged city of Birmingham, resided in the county of Marshall, Kentucky, according to Four Rivers Explorer, documenters of the “Four Rivers” region.

Thirty years after its incorporation in 1890, Birmingham, Kentucky had:

  • four churches (2 white and 2 black)
  • two schools (1 white and 1 black)
  • four dry-good and general stores
  • three grocery stores
  • two wagon stores
  • two blacksmith shops, and other items according to the Marshall County Daily (MCD).
This is a layout of the city of Birmingham, Kentucky provided by the State Highway Patrol of Marshall County, KY.Four Rivers Explorer

MCD writes that Birmingham was governed by a four man Town of Trustees, a City Judge, and a City Marshal.

The Birmingham Raid of 1908

The city welcomed an African-American community. This was disrupted during a raid against Negros living in Birmingham, Kentucky, on March 9th, 1908.

The raid resulted in gunshots into every person of color's home. Several Negros were injured during the violent raid of Birmingham, Kentucky, including a teacher at the local colored school, according to This caused many of the black families to move to Illinois or Mississippi.

A Judge Reed of Paducah would subsequently indict Dr. Emilius Champion, a physician in the between the lakes area along with several members of the group that crossed into Marshal County and spread terror on in 1908.
Commonwealth Attorney John G. Lovett prosecuted Dr. Champion and the crew of nightriders, enduring threats to his life and property.Marshall County Daily

Birthplace of professional athlete
"Jumpin" Joe Fulks was born in Birmingham, Kentucky and played for the 1946 Philadelphia Warriors.LoganSportsRating/Getty

The Birmingham, Kentucky community would go on to develop an athlete who would make it to play in for the Basketball Association of America (BAA), what is now the National Basketball Association (NBA)’s 1946 Philadelphia Warriors.

According to the Marshall County Daily, “Jumpin’” Joe Fulks was born in 1921. He played basketball at Murray State for two years, and then quit to go to the Marines. In 1946 he signed to the Philadelphia Warriors to play the Power Forward position.

The submergence of Birmingham, Kentucky

In 1937, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) purchased 35,133 acres of land. And by building a dam, the TVA could generate affordable electricity, alleviate flooding problems, and facilitate better river navigation, according to Tennessee Valley Cemetery Relocation Files. Birmingham citizens were given a few years to relocate.

As a consequence of the dam project, its flooding, and the creation of Kentucky Lake, Birmingham, Kentucky was left submerged completely under water.

This is a picture of the historic (and non-existent ) city today, on Google Maps.
What remains of Birmingham, Kentucky is now underwater, as a result of a Tennessee Valley Authority dam and lake project in the 1940s.FourRiversExplorer/TVA

The Birmingham, Kentucky cemetery was relocated about twenty minutes to Breingsburg, Kentucky. You can read about the city of Birmingham, Kentucky cemetery relocation at Tennessee Valley Cemetery Relocation files here.


Four Rivers Explorer

Marshall County Daily

Western Kentucky History

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I'm Harrison a writer for TwoSq Media; a contributor to NewsBreak. I analyze local news, business, and technology's influence on how we live our lives. I recently earned a Master of Business Administration from Morehead State University.

Bardstown, KY

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