Olive Hill is located in western Carter County primarily on the north side of Tygarts Creek,, a tributary of the Ohio River. US Route 60 passes through the city, leading east 14 miles to Grayson, the Carter County seat, and west 18 miles to Morehead.
Olive Hill began as a rural trading post established by Robert Henderson at Cold Springs about 1800. In 1881, the town was moved from a hillside location to the current location in the Tygarts Creek Valley, where the Elizabethtown, Lexington, and Big Sandy Railroad had laid tracks. The hillside location become known as Old Olive Hill and now serves as the city’s residential area. On March 24, 1884, Olive Hill incorporated as a city.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway served Olive Hill and many other places on the railroad’s Lexington Subdivision. Passenger service ended through the area in 1972…. The historic Olive Hill Depot still stands on Railroad Street and remains the center of many town events. The railroad tracks have been taken up, and the old ties sold off or given away. Attempts have been made by many government and civic organizations to use the C & O right of way area for a “Rails to Trails” program, allowing bicycling and hiking along the former beds.*
Heavy rains often cause flash flooding along the county’s creeks and rivers. The overflowing Tygart Creek has brought several feet of water to the streets of Olive Hill on numerous occasions, including big floods in 1906, 1913,1917,1939, and 1950 that impacted areas along the Little Sandy and Little Fork Rivers as well.
Two massive floods in May and July of 2010 nearly destroyed Olive Hill, KY’s downtown area. Recovery continues but, according to many, parts of town are “full of ugly” with dilapidated/empty buildings, vacant lots, and a depressing loss. Even with a newly designated “Trail Town” initiative (a successful component of recovery), struggle is real.
CDAC was asked to work with the Galaxy Project, Inc. to develop a conceptual master plan for Casey Park. The Galaxy Project, Inc. feels Casey Park “affords a perfect, challenging, and high impact project for town beautification, KY nature appreciation, education of area youth, and stirred economic development for generations.”
The park project is located on Railroad Street, parallel to Tygart Creek. Although this street currently reveals years of lingering flood damage and abandonment, it could potentially be the most beautiful and beneficial in town, with the addition of Casey Park.
The Casey Park lot will fulfill flood compliance requirements. It is located within easy walking distance for horse trail riders, canoers, cyclists, and locals all ages. Additional conceptual ideas for the site include botanical hands-on learning opportunities for students, unique local history signage, a meditation garden, natural fountain, wellness walk-path, and gathering area for larger groups. It is the hope of the Galaxy Project, Inc. that the development of Casey Park will draw locals, regional schools, and potential tourists to grow business and move Olive Hill closer towards its goal of a beautiful tourism town.
Project team members: Nick Proctor and Xiaofei Shi