If you've got about five minutes, let's take a trip back in time to Butcher Hollar, Kentucky, near the little town of Van Lear, and visit the childhood home of Loretta Lynn. A couple of Yankee friends of mine with their camera rolling made the short drive out of my Johnson County home town of Paintsville, a few miles down to Hagar Hill, through West Van Lear and Van Lear, and along the beautiful Miller's Creek Drive (an awesome drive through the Appalachian foothills) to Butcher Hollar.

If you saw the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter" or heard the song by Loretta Lynn, you already know that's where Loretta, Crystal Gayle and all the rest of the Webb clan spent their childhood.

Loretta Lynn Performs On Stage
Getty Images

Over the years most of Loretta's family made their way out of Butcher Hollar, like so many other folks in that area do. However, one fellow that stayed was Loretta's younger brother Herman Webb. For many years he ran the old coal camp company store down at the mouth of Butcher Hollar; and for $5.00 he would meet you a short distance up the hollar and give you a guided tour of the old original country home where he and Loretta grew up. Herman was 83 when he died a couple of years ago; but let's go back to when he was still giving tours. Herman was such a laid back fellow, it's hard to believe he had such world famous siblings.

The four minute video starts with the turn off on Miller Creek Road...

COVID 19 has kept the family from giving tours but when the pandemic is over, you may want to take a drive to Johnson County and visit Van Lear and Butcher Hollar. Except for strip mines, not too much coal comes out of the Van Lear coal camp anymore. But you can still visit the old company store and grab a sandwich, a moon pie and RC. Someone will be available to take you up to the family home and show you around.

If you saw the 1980  Emmy award winning movie "Coal Miner's Daughter" you saw scenes portrayed in the house but those scenes were not filmed in Butcher Hollar. If you watched the video above, you will see why. The road up Miller's Creek to the house is very narrow making it difficult to get the trucks carrying movie equipment to the Webb home. The movie producers also wanted to cut a road up the hill that the house is located on so their cameras and other equipment could be moved close. The Webb family didn't like that idea so all of the scenes involving Loretta's home were filmed at a replica house the movie company constructed near Whitesburg. That replica of Lynn’s Butcher Hollow homeplace, built at Bottom Fork, has since been burned by arsonists. Except for a Van Lear train scene, the rest of the film was made in the Whitesburg-Wise Virginia area.

The admission to Loretta's homeplace is still just $5.00 and you can take all the photos you want.

You might also want to visit the wonderful coal museum in Van Lear. It's well worth your time.


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