Kentucky's Country Music Highway (U.S. 23) is a National Scenic Byway that leads to roads along the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia and West Virginia. This is the land of country music stars like Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle, folk art, pioneer settlements, coal mines, and the famous feud/love match between the Hatfields and the McCoys.
The 1500-acre park on the edge of Dewey Lake has a 49-room lodge, one- and two-bedroom cottages, and a 117-site seasonal campground. Unexpected additions to the usual park attractions include an outdoor summer theater featuring Broadway shows, and an elk-watching tour. These native animals, which disappeared before the Civil War, have been reintroduced to the Cumberland Plateau in the largest elk-restoration program in North America.
At Butcher Holler, the weathered, unpainted cabin of Lynn and her sister Crystal Gayle perches on a high mountain hillside. Their brother, Herman Webb, leads a tour of the four-room house to the tune of "Coal Miner's Daughter." Larger-than-life portraits of the two women in fancy dress watch from walls papered with photos of themselves, family, and other celebrities. Webb tells how Loretta was 13 when she married Oliver "Mooney" Lynn and had the first of four children at age 14. She started on her way to become the Queen of Country four years later.
A number of award-winning singers who grew up in these Kentucky mountains are honored in the U.S. 23 Country Music Museum, opened April 1, 2005 in nearby Paintsville. Names like Ricky Skaggs, Patty Loveless, Billy Ray Cyrus, the Judds, and Dwight Yoakam surround that of recent Grammy winner Rebecca Lynn Howard. Their portraits hang beneath such quotes as, "Country music is three chords and the truth," attributed to Harlan Howard.
The Big Sandy Mountain Heritage Center opened in the old Pikesville railroad depot in September 2003. The museum houses artifacts and memorabilia devoted to coal, railroads, the Civil War, and early east Kentucky pioneers. The last includes the story of the Hatfields and McCoys.