Barren County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. It was formed in 1799. As of 2007, the population was 41,184. Its county seat is Glasgow, Kentucky. The county is part of the Glasgow Micropolitan Statistical Area.
In 2007 Barren County was named the "Best Place to Live in Rural America" by Progressive Farmer Magazine.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 500 square miles (1,295 km²), of which, 491 square miles (1,272 km²) of it is land and 9 square miles (23 km²) of it (1.79%) is water.
Barren River Lake is located in the southern part of the county, forming part of its boundary with Allen County. Barren River Lake State Resort Park is located primarily within Barren County, along the lake's shoreline.
As of the census of 2000, there were 38,033 people, 15,346 households, and 10,941 families residing in the county. The population density was 78 people per square mile (30/km²). There were 17,095 housing units at an average density of 35 per square mile (13/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 94.30% White, 4.09% Black or African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.38% from other races, and 0.65% from two or more races. 0.93% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 15,346 households out of which 31.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.30% were married couples living together, 9.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.70% were non-families. 25.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.91.
The age distribution was 24.20% under the age of 18, 8.20% from 18 to 24, 28.80% from 25 to 44, 23.80% from 45 to 64, and 15.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 92.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $31,240, and the median income for a family was $37,231. Males had a median income of $29,860 versus $21,208 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,816. About 11.80% of families and 15.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.30% of those under age 18 and 19.10% of those age 65 or over.
Barren County, like most of south central Kentucky, was settled by the Scots-Irish, and still bears many cultural aspects that trace back to that heritage. The Scottish heritage is the most evident, as indicated by the name of the county seat, which is named for Glasgow, Scotland, and is celebrated annually with the Glasgow Highland Games, one of three highland games held each year in Kentucky.
The county is home to all or part of three school districts:
Christianity is the predominant religion in the county. The Southern Baptist Convention is the leading Protestant denomination in terms of adherents, with Glasgow Baptist Church being the largest congregation in the county. Missionary Baptist, United Methodist, Free Methodist, Presbyterian (including Cumberland Presbyterian), Episcopalian, Disciples of Christ, Church of Christ, Assemblies of God, and numerous independent churches are located in the county, as well as two Roman Catholic parishes, an LDS ward, and a sizable Amish community. No known Jewish, Muslim or other religions are known to have houses of worship within the county.
Barren is a prohibition or dry county, with the exception of Cave City, which voted in 2005 to become "moist" (selling only liquor by the drink in restaurants of a certain minimum size and which derive 70% or more of their revenue from food), and Glasgow, which approved liquor by the drink under the same restrictions on November 6, 2007, after three previous elections to allow full alcohol sales in the city being soundly defeated. (Bowling Green, just to the west, offers full liquor sales.)
Railroad service is provided by CSX Transportation, whose former Louisville and Nashville Railroad main line passes through Cave City and Park City. The Glasgow Railway Company is a short line which owns a branch from Park City (which was formerly called Glasgow Junction) to Glasgow; the line is serviced via an operating lease by CSX.