The fans of Loretta Lynn are a passionate bunch, and they’re banding together to get a state park in Kentucky named after the Coal Miner’s Daughter, located in the region that inspired much of her music.
The 242-acre Paintsville Lake State Park was opened in 1984 on Paintsville Lake, which was created in 1979 by the US Corps of Engineers. The 1,100-acre lake and adjacent park were named after Paints Creek that feeds the lake, and the nearby town of Paintsville. This is where the Highway 23 Museum is located. Hwy 23 is also known as the Country Music Highway due to the many country performers originating from the region, including Loretta and her sister Crystal Gayle.
A petition for the name change was originally launched in November of 2022 shortly after Loretta Lynn passed away on October 4th, 2022. The petition quickly accrued around 19,000 signatures, and State Senator Robin Webb (D-18th District) drafted a bill to rename the park. Senator Webb is a cousin of Loretta (Lynn’s maiden name was ‘Webb’).
Nothing came from the initial effort though, and as these things go, people moved on. But in recent days a renewed push has been underway to revitalize the idea with the signatures on the petition surpassing the initial goal of 25,000 and counting. The petition reads in part,
“State and national parks not only preserve the landscape and wildlife that inhabits the land; they also preserve our history and culture. They are named to honor and preserve the legacy of individuals who have achieved the highest level of excellence in their field, have impacted our culture, and our nation … We are asking Governor Andy Beshear and the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s, General Assembly to consider renaming Paintsville Lake State Park, located at 1551 Ky 2275, Staffordsville, Ky 41256 to Loretta Lynn State Park; to honor and preserve Loretta Lynn’s legacy.”
Proponents of the proposal believe the name change will be good for tourism in the area, while not doing any injury to the Paintsville name.
Loretta Lynn is originally from Van Lear, Kentucky and Butcher Hollow, which is about 10 miles as the crow flies from Paintsville State Park. The National Trust For Historic Preservation officially registered Loretta Lynn’s childhood home on Butcher Holler Road in Van Lear in 2007, and in 2022 the Kentucky Historical Society placed a Historical Marker at Loretta Lynn’s homeplace. Both Tyler Childers and Chris Stapleton also spent time in the Paintsville area while growing up.