Hopkins County was formed in 1806 and is named for General Samuel Hopkins, who was an officer in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. He later served as a Kentucky legislator and a United States Congressman.
The county seat, Madisonville, was founded in 1807 and is named for Secretary of State James Madison. Throughout most of the 1800s, farming drove the economy of the city, with tobacco being the cash crop of the area. The first coal mine opened in 1869. Louisville and Nashville Railroad extended its line through Madisonville in 1870, boosting the mining industry and making Madisonville a railroad hub, a booming coal mining center, and a thriving tobacco market.
Later, Elizabethtown and Paducah Railroad came through Hopkins County, and many of our communities grew as railroad stops.
Once known as the Tradewater Station on the Elizabethtown and Paducah Railroad, the City of Dawson Springs was well-known as a spa and resort destination from the late 1800s through the 1930s. The healing springs of the resort town was a draw for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who used Riverside Park as a spring training facility from 1914 to 1917.
Visit our museums and local historical sites to learn more about the unique history of Hopkins County.