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Our History

Downtown Jackson, 2021
History of Jackson

Almost Two Centuries in the Making

Discover what makes the City of Jackson unique.


Breathitt Town

Upon the creation of Breathitt County in 1839, local landowner Simon Cockrell Sr. donated 10 acres to serve as its seat of government. The community was originally known as Breathitt, Breathitt Town, or Breathitt Court House after the county.

Downtown Jackson


In honor of President Andrew Jackson, who died that same year, Breathitt Town was renamed Jackson and incorporated in 1845.

The Kentucky Union Railroad

The Kentucky Union Railroad

The Kentucky Union Railroad arrived in 1891, and as the railroad terminus, Jackson was a major shipping point for the upper Kentucky River region. Large dry goods centers, a lumber company, a brickyard, and other businesses thrived.

The feuds of Bloody Breathitt

Bloody Breathitt

Local feuds led the national press to publish stories about Jackson and "Bloody Breathitt". Kentucky State Police Troopers were dispatched twice in the 1870s and again in 1903, after the assassination of U.S. Commissioner James B. Marcum on the courthouse steps, to restore order.

The Kentucky River

Panbowl Lake

To limit flooding, the Kentucky River was redirected in 1963 by way of a small cut-through through the mountain, and its former channel, a river meander, was left behind as Panbowl Lake, now a prime attraction for fishing.