Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chained Rock

High above the city of Pineville, there stands an immense protruding rock held in place by an old rusty chain. This is "Chained Rock", a peculiar tourist attraction in the Pine Mountain State Resort Park (established in 1924 as Kentucky's first state park).

Accounts vary regarding how the rock got its chain. Some sources say the rock is/was genuinely unstable and the chain is what's saved Pineville from a dangerous rockslide. Others say that was a just a pretense for a publicity stunt to deliberately create the tourist attraction. And still others say that both are to some degree true; that the rock could indeed have fallen without restraint but also that the danger was exaggerated for the sake of a good story.

Furthermore, there are also accounts that the chain was originally put in place because parents had already been telling their children for years not to worry about the very visible outcropping rock falling, and made up a story about how the rock was safely chained in place. After these stories got around, so legend has it, enough out-of-towners started inquiring about the chained rock that the city government decided in 1933, "heck, maybe we really do need to put a chain around it."

And finally, there's also the odd note on the historical plaque (see below) that the chain that was installed in 1933 actually was a replacement for a much earlier pre-existing chain. Puzzling evidence.

The chain itself is said to have been acquired from a rock quarry's steam shovel in Virginia and painstakingly lugged up the mountain by Boy Scouts, the local Kiwanis Club, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and a team of pack mules. It weighs 1.5 tons and is 101 feet long.


Anonymous said...

My mom was from Bell County not far from Pineville and always said that the chain was the idea of the local chamber of commerce that wanted to attract people to town. I hadn't heard those other explanations before.

Ed said...

Reminds me of the scene in The Matrix where Reeves breaks the vase. If no one had thought to put a chain on the rock, it wouldn't need one; however, now that there is one, if it happens to break there might be an avalanche.

Anonymous said...

i have lived in harlan county all my life, and would like to know the truth about the chained rock, the real reason it was put there, cause i don't beleive it is actually holding the rock.