Ashland dates back to the migration of the Poage family from the Shenandoah Valley via the famed Cumberland Gap in 1786. They settled upon a homestead along the Ohio River and named it Poage's Landing. It remained an extended-family settlement until the mid-1800s. In 1854, the name of the city was changed to Ashland, after Henry Clay's Lexington estate, and to reflect the city's growing industrial base.
The city's early industrial growth was a result of Ohio's pig iron industry. It was not until 1854, that growth began to occur with the charter of the Kentucky Iron, Coal and Manufacturing Company by the Kentucky General Assembly. Major industrial employers in the first half of the 20th century included the Armco, the Ashland Oil and Refining Company, the C&O Railroad, Allied Chemical and Dye Company's Semet Solvay and Mansbach Steel.
Ashland is located at (38.464017, -82.641571).
There were 9,675 households out of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.0% were non-families. 33.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.82.
In the city the population was spread out with 21.9% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 23.7% from 45 to 64, and 19.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 83.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,309, and the median income for a family was $40,131. Males had a median income of $35,362 versus $23,994 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,218. About 14.0% of families and 18.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.3% of those under age 18 and 12.3% of those age 65 or over.
The mayor of Ashland is elected for a four year term and is not term limited. The mayor presides over City Commission meetings, is a voting member of the City Commission and represents the city at major functions. Currently, the office of mayor is vacent due to the resignation of Steve Gilmore. Gilmore resigned to become the superintendent of the Ashland Independent School District. The City Commission has named former Ashland police officer and long time city commissioner Kevin Gunderson Presiding Commissioner until December 31, 2008. As Presiding Commissioner, Gunderson's duties will include those of acting mayor. In addition, the commission appointed former Ashland firefighter Tom Cantrell to the seat on the commission vacated by Gilmore.
Ashland's current City Commissioners are Presiding Commissioner Kevin Gunderson, Tom Cantrell, Larry Brown, Paula Hogsten and Cheryl Spriggs
Two candidates — current Ashland Commissioner Paula Hogsten and former Ashland Police Chief Tom Kelley — are on the ballot for the November 2008 general election for mayor of Ashland. Chris Hammond is also running as a write-in candidate. Because of this, his name will not appear on the ballot.
The city of Ashland currently has 49 sworn officers, three civilian employees that function as administrative support and six parapolice that handle tasks that do not require the services of a sworn officer.
Another hospital, the Ashland Tuberculosis Hospital, was located south of the city and opened in 1950. It featured 100 beds and served 18 eastern Kentucky counties.
There is one public middle school, George M. Verity Middle School, formerly known as Putnam Junior High School. The campus is home to Putnam Stadium which serves as the home field for both the Verity Patriots football and soccer teams, and Ashland Tomcats football. The Ashland Tomcats football program has achieved 11 state championships. The Ashland Tomcats (boys') basketball program have accomplished 1 national championship, 4 state championships, 32 regional championships, and 55 district championships. The Ashland Tomcats and Kittens (girls') soccer teams play at the Ashland Soccer Complex at the high school.
One public high school serves the city of Ashland; Paul G. Blazer High School, named after philanthropist and founder of Ashland Inc., Paul G. Blazer. The high school is home to the Ashland Tomcats and Kittens athletic teams. The school's marching band competes in the AAAA class of the Kentucky Music Educators Association(KMEA). The marching band is commonly called "The Pride of Blazer" for it's excellent performance in many KMEA marching band competitions.
The two private schools serving the Ashland area are the Holy Family School and the Rose Hill Christian School Holy Family is affiliated with Holy Family Catholic Church and currently offers K-8 education. Rose Hill is affiliated with the Rose Hill Baptist Church and offers K-12. Post-secondary educational opportunities include Ashland Community and Technical College which has multiple campuses within the city. Morehead State University also has a satellite campus located in Ashland.
The Paramount Arts Center, an art-deco converted movie theater built in 1930, is located on Winchester Avenue. The theater serves as an important venue for the arts in eastern Kentucky and the surrounding states of Ohio and West Virginia. It is well noted for its Festival of Trees event during the winter season. In addition, the Paramount was the setting where Billy Ray Cyrus' music video "Achy Breaky Heart" was taped.
Also along Winchester Avenue is the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center Among its numerous exhibits, includes one about Country Music Heritage that pays tribute to the local music artists that line U.S. Route 23 in Kentucky. Two local artists, The Judds from Ashland, and Billy Ray Cyrus from nearby Flatwoods, are included.
The Pendleton Art Center is also located within the downtown, formed in 2005. Among the art produced there include paintings, stained glass, carved gourds, and wood carvings produced by local artists. They are presented at the Pendleton the first Friday and Saturday of every month and other times by appointment.
The Jesse Stuart Foundation, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the literary legacy of Jesse Stuart and other Appalachian writers, is located within an earshot of the Pendleton Arts Center. Jesse Stuart, a well-known 20th century author, was from nearby Greenup, Kentucky.
|Call sign||Frequency||Format||Description / Notes|
|W216AT||91.1 FM||Owned by the American Family Association.|
|WDGG||93.7 FM||Owned by Fifth Avenue Broadcasting Company Inc.|
|WLGC||105.7 FM||Owned by Greenup County Broadcasting, Inc. Licensed to nearby Greenup, Kentucky with studios located in downtown Ashland.|
|WCMI||1340 AM||The owner is Fifth Avenue Broadcasting Company. It was founded by the Ashland Broadcasting Station whose owners were the Daily Independent on April 29, 1935. It was sold to Nunn Enterprises in 1939.|
|WOKT||1080 AM||Located in adjacent Cannonsburg, it is owned by Big River Radio Inc.|
|WWKO||Operated by the States Broadcasting Company, it went live on July 31, 1954.|
Ashland residents receive their network television primarily from stations in Huntington and Charleston, West Virginia. In addition, WKYT, the CBS affiliate in Lexington, Kentucky is shown on cable in Ashland when its programming is different from the CBS affiliate in Huntington, WOWK. There are also two television stations licensed to Ashland itself. Those are:
|WKAS||25||Owned by the Kentucky Authority for Educational Television. PBS/Kentucky Educational Television affiliate|
|WTSF||61||Owned by Daystar Television Network|
Ashland boasts a 47-acre wooded Central Park, founded in 1854, playgrounds and other amusements. It was bounded between Lexington and Central Avenue, and 17th and 22nd Streets. In 1936, the Works Progress Administration constructed a central road through the park; one year later, a pond was constructed in the southeast quadrant. Twenty years later, after complaints of mosquito problems, the pond was filled in with five feet of dirt and it became a softball practice field.
In the spring of 1995, the pond was excavated and was filled with water by September. The original water lilies that were planned in 1937 had come back in full bloom. A fountain was added in the center and numerous fish species were added. The park today features three separate children playgrounds, several baseball diamonds, a volleyball court and a traditional bandstand. Central Park also hosts an annual holiday light show, the Winter Wonderland of Lights.
In July 1976, a new 10-acre park at the former Clyffeside Park was envisioned. Named after Commissioner Johnny Oliverio, it features several baseball diamonds, and is located along Winchester Avenue near 39th Street.
In 2004, the AK Steel Sports Park was constructed along Blackburn Avenue in South Ashland. The sports-oriented park features several baseball diamonds, soccer fields and a skate park.
The former Chesapeake and Ohio Railway passenger depot at 11th Street and Carter Avenue, was completed in 1925 but abandoned in the 1970s in favor of a downsized depot in Catlettsburg. The rail lines to the building have since been removed and the building itself now serves as the downtown Ashland branch of National City Bank. Passenger rail service was moved from Catlettsburg to the Ashland Transportation Center in the early 2000s.