From the song “Paradise” by John Prine. “And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County, Down by the Green River where Paradise lay, well I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking, Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.” This photo was taken in the neighboring county, Hopkins. “Paradise” (1952).
This recent addition to our collection initially reminded us of the photo “Ditched, Stalled and Stranded” (1935) taken by Dorothea Lange in the San Joaquin Valley, California. However, research has uncovered a previously unknown significance of this image. “Central City, Kentucky c.1934” is just a stone’s throw from Paradise, Kentucky. “Paradise”, the song, was made famous by John Prine. This song is considered by many to be the unofficial national anthem of Appalachia. Located in western Kentucky the lyrics explain the situation with strip mining and the destruction of the natural beauty of the Green River in Muhlenberg County by the Peabody Coal Company.