Mount Sterling, Kentucky

Coordinates: 38°3′24″N 83°56′40″W / 38.05667°N 83.94444°W / 38.05667; -83.94444
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Mount Sterling, Kentucky
Downtown Mt. Sterling
Downtown Mt. Sterling
"Ringing with Unity and Pride"
Location in Montgomery County, Kentucky
Location in Montgomery County, Kentucky
Coordinates: 38°3′24″N 83°56′40″W / 38.05667°N 83.94444°W / 38.05667; -83.94444
CountryUnited States
 • Total4.51 sq mi (11.68 km2)
 • Land4.49 sq mi (11.62 km2)
 • Water0.02 sq mi (0.06 km2)
974 ft (297 m)
 • Total7,558
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,684.05/sq mi (650.19/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code859
FIPS code21-54084
GNIS feature ID0498865

Mount Sterling, often written as Mt. Sterling,[5] is a home rule-class city[6] in Montgomery County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 7,558 as of the 2020 census,[3] up from 6,895 in 2010. It is the county seat of Montgomery County and the principal city of the Mount Sterling micropolitan area.


Mount Sterling is named for an ancient burial mound called "Little Mountain", and for the town of Stirling in Scotland. It was named by the first developer of the area, Hugh Forbes. The Kentucky Assembly passed an act in 1792 establishing the town as Mt. Sterling, a misspelling which was retained.[7]

The area was originally part of the thick wilderness of central Kentucky. Explorers, hunters, and surveyors traveling along a trail called Old Harper's Trace noted a 125-foot-high (38 m) tree-covered mound which they called "the Little Mountain". Later excavations showed it to be a burial site. The site of the mound is now the intersection of Queen and Locust streets in Mt. Sterling.

The first cabin in the area was built in 1779. The first permanent settlement was established around 1790, when Forbes began to sell lots and laid out a road, now Locust Street. In 1796 the town was established as the county seat of newly created Montgomery County. At that time the town consisted of 33 town lots, four retail stores, and three taverns. A courthouse was built, the first of seven to be housed in Mt. Sterling. A jail and a town pump were also installed. A large brick market house where farm produce was bought and sold confirmed the town as the commercial center of the surrounding area. Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist churches were established during the town's first decade.

During the Civil War the town was occupied alternately by Union and Confederate troops on multiple occasions. The Battle of Mount Sterling in June 1864, which ended in a Confederate defeat, was the last of the fighting in Montgomery County.[7]


Mt. Sterling is located northwest of the center of Montgomery County at 38°3′24″N 83°56′40″W / 38.05667°N 83.94444°W / 38.05667; -83.94444 (38.056613, -83.944500).[8] It is 34 miles (55 km) east of Lexington and 91 miles (146 km) west of Huntington, West Virginia. U.S. Route 60 passes through the city as Main Street, leading northeast 14 miles (23 km) to Owingsville and west-southwest 16 miles (26 km) to Winchester. U.S. Route 460 crosses US 60 in the center of Mt. Sterling, leading northwest 23 miles (37 km) to Paris and southeast 21 miles (34 km) to Frenchburg. Kentucky Route 11 joins US 460 through the center of Mt. Sterling but leads north 31 miles (50 km) to Flemingsburg and south 15 miles (24 km) to Clay City. Interstate 64 passes through the northern part of Mt. Sterling, with access from exits 110 (US 460) and 113 (US 60), and connecting Mt. Sterling with Lexington and Huntington.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Mt. Sterling has a total area of 4.52 square miles (11.71 km2), of which 0.02 square miles (0.05 km2), or 0.49%, are water.[2] Hinkston Creek runs through the city center, flowing north and then west to the South Fork of the Licking River in northern Bourbon County.


Historical population
2022 (est.)7,555[9]0.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 5,876 people, 2,478 households, and 1,536 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,708.9 inhabitants per square mile (659.8/km2). There were 2,768 housing units at an average density of 805.0 per square mile (310.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.09% White, 8.73% African American, 0.22% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.75% from other races, and 1.02% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 1.68% of the population.

There were 2,478 households, out of which 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.8% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.0% were non-families. 33.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 22.7% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 28.4% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 17.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,050, and the median income for a family was $54,074. Males had a median income of $30,584 versus $21,081 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,585. About 17.1% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.4% of those under age 18 and 17.8% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture[edit]

Beginning in the eighteenth century, Court Day quickly became the annual trading day for the area. It remains a big event today, held on the third Monday in October and the weekend prior. Approximately 130,000 people from all parts of the country gather for the four-day event that specializes in many different arts and crafts, food and music.[12]

The Gateway Regional Arts Center holds classes and exhibitions in the former First United Methodist Church, a historic building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

List of Registered Historical Places[edit]


Mount Sterling has a lending library, a branch of the Montgomery County Public Library.[13]

The city is served by Montgomery County Public Schools and is home to Montgomery County High School.[14]


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Mt. Sterling has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[15]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ a b Commonwealth of Kentucky. Office of the Secretary of State. Land Office. "Mt. Sterling, Kentucky". Accessed 26 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b "2022 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Kentucky". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  3. ^ a b "P1. Race – Mount Sterling city, Kentucky: 2020 DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171)". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  4. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Kentucky: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2022". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  5. ^ The Commonwealth of Kentucky's Land Office lists the city as "Mount Sterling" but has a note: "Actual name of city is Mt. Sterling."
  6. ^ "Summary and Reference Guide to House Bill 331 City Classification Reform" (PDF). Kentucky League of Cities. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "History". Mt. Sterling, KY. Archived from the original on 25 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  8. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  9. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Kentucky: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2022". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  10. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  11. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  12. ^ "Court Day". Archived from the original on 5 May 2016. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Kentucky Public Library Directory". Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Archived from the original on 11 January 2019. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  14. ^ "Montgomery County High School". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  15. ^ Climate Summary for Mt. Sterling, Kentucky
  16. ^ Tom Eblen. "New location fitting for black history museum", Lexington Herald-Leader, February 8, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  17. ^ Copley, Rich (2015-07-27). "James L. White, 'Ray' screenwriter and Kentuckian, dies at 67". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved 2015-07-29.

External links[edit]