Situated at the junction of U.S. 23 and U.S. 119, the City of Jenkins is the largest city (population 2,203) in Letcher County. Jenkins sits on the Virginia border. Its location near the Pound Gap of Pine Mountain, a pioneer trail into Kentucky, makes Jenkins the highest city in Kentucky. The City can boast the headwaters of three major rivers, the Kentucky, the Big Sandy, and the Cumberland. Kentucky’s Country Music Highway begins in Jenkins.
Constructed in 1911 by the Consolidated Coal Company, Jenkins began its second century with a new energy. Its renewal includes infrastructure projects as well as plans for recreational and economic development. The Devil John Wright Project involves the convergence of three of these undertakings: the design and construction of the Devil John Wright Moonshine Trail, the Lakeside Center and Pool, and the Elkhorn Lake Boardwalk (Lakewalk). A brief overview of each:
The Devil John Wright Moonshine Trail (currently in its planning stages) will connect the Pine Mountain Scenic Trail (PMT), a linear state park, to the City of Jenkins. It will be a non-motorized trail for hikers, backpackers and cyclists and will follow the old entry trail from the Pine Mountain Scenic Trail at Pound Gap and enter Jenkins close to the Lakeside Center. Discussions look toward the Moonshine Trail to feature the significant historical events and milestones that occurred at or near the present site of the City of Jenkins. Among these are the entry into the hunting grounds by native tribes, the entry of pioneers into the frontier, Civil War events, moonshine stills and the building of a model company town by the coal industry.
The Lakeside Center will serve as the pool house for the new city swimming pool as well a recreation/community center. The parking lot can serve as a staging area for trail hikers and cyclists and the Elkhorn Lake Boardwalk walkers. Swimming pool construction is underway and design plans for the Lakeside Center are in hand with funding pending.
The City of Jenkins also plans to develop a Lakewalk around Elkhorn Lake, a jewel central to community life in Jenkins. To date, the Lakewalk has been conceptualized as a boardwalk that encircles the lake and complements the existing park. Ideally, it will become a continuation of hiking and recreational opportunities. The City of Jenkins has requested funding for the boardwalk design and are awaiting a response.
The Moonshine Trail will touch and/or come through a residential section of the City. The Lakeside Center brings the public to the same residential area, while the Elkhorn Lake Boardwalk draws them closer to downtown.
The Design Center worked with City of Jenkins staff, the Trail Town Task force, and the community to develop a conceptual master plan that integrates the Moonshine Trail, the Lakeside Center, and the Elkhorn Lake boardwalk into an aesthetically pleasing and unique entry into town. This included locating the Moonshine Trail and Elkhorn Lake boardwalk and making the entry both bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
Project Design Team: Peter Dunne, Jen Jessup, and Harley Walker
Project Sponsor: Forest Competitive Grant, Kentucky