|Census-designated place (CDP)|
View of eastern Pathfork above one of the mountains.
|• Total||1.253 sq mi (3.25 km2)|
|• Land||1.243 sq mi (3.22 km2)|
|• Water||0.010 sq mi (0.03 km2)|
|Elevation||1,240 ft (380 m)|
|• Density||300/sq mi (120/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||489796|
Pathfork is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Harlan County, Kentucky, United States, located to the south bank of Wallins Creek. Its population was 379 as of the 2010 census. The city's main roads are East Hwy 72, which connects from US 119, and travels to an end at Old RB Mines, however, 72 runs to Harlan via gravel road,and Ky 2005 an old gravel road that leads to Smith/Brownes Creek, south of Harlan, Kentucky.
The town used to rely heavily on coal mining, which can be seen directly on the mountain above Pathfork. However, many mines have shut down, causing extremely high unemployment rates in the community, especially among young people. A coal mine also blocks the road ahead of Blackstar that originally led to Harlan. A small community park, known as Coal Miner's Memorial Park, was created to honor the community's ties to coal mining.
There are four churches in the town: Insull Holiness, Pathfork Holiness Church, Pathfork Baptist and Blackstar Pentecostal Church.
Crime rates that are reported are low in Pathfork, though a double-homicide was committed in early 2002 which was reported by several news stations. In fall of 2009, two young adults accidentally shot a gas line, causing authorities to evacuate half of the town for several hours. The community is heavily plagued by drugs and as a result of the oxycontin crisis in Appalachia. There are no jobs, and many of the youth resort to drugs and drug dealing, and digging root such as cowash and ginseng is a staple among many as ways to gain money.
Once a beautiful and wonderful place to raise a family, now Pathfork remains a dilapidated ghost town were young people hope to leave, similar to the plights of black youth in the ghettos of major U.S. cities.
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