City History

There were only a few hundred adventurous settlers in all of Kentucky in 1776, but by the 1800’s settlements were popping up everywhere. This was partly enhanced by the many land grants given by the government to pay former Revolutionary War soldiers.  David Leach/Leitch (of Leitchfield, KY. fame) was one of those.  His land grant of 1,400 hundred acres included the land that would become known as The City of Mt. Washington.  Local historian and author Bobby Darnell says in his “Mt. Washington Images of America” book, pioneers traveling on the Wilderness Road who veered off the path near McCullough’s Run on Salt River looking for a more direct route to Louisville they subsequently ventured through a small borough called Hell’s Kitchen. 

As more and more settlers came to Kentucky, horse paths became roads. Two of those roads developed from Bardstown to Louisville and from Shepherdsville to Shelbyville.  Those two roads crossed near Hell’s Kitchen and the resulting community became known as “The Crossroads.”  Today, of course, those crossing roads are US Highway 31E and Kentucky Highway 44.

The earliest known name of Mt. Washington was “The Crossroads” because of its location around the intersection of Highway 31E and Highway 44.  The Crossroads name was later changed to Mt. Vernon. But when a post office was applied for it was discovered there was already a city in Kentucky with that name, therefore, the name was changed to Mt. Washington.

Mt. Washington was incorporated in 1833 and at that time, contained 3 churches, 2 schools, 6 stores, 5 doctors, 2 taverns, and 12 mechanical trades.  The population at that time was approximately 700 people as pointed out in the printing of the History of Kentucky in 1847 by Lewis Collins. 

The mid-1800s saw continued growth of "the Crossroads" as a point-of-service for travelers, wagons and horses at this busy intersection of stagecoach and freight routes.  In addition to the hotels and eateries, there were two blacksmith shops, a tannery that made harnesses and saddles, liquor distillers, a flour and lumber mill with a wood turning lathe for the making of fine furniture and cabinetry, three limestone quarries and two full-time makers of burial caskets! Squire Fidler hand-crafted ornate Kentucky long-rifles on Main Street.  Freeman Ramsey, a longtime acquaintance of Stephen Foster, crafted "piano Forte" pianos on West Street.

In the early autumn of 1862, Confederate cavalry briefly occupied the town.  Artillery fire at the Floyd Fork heights from the advancing Federal army drove the Confederates southward.  A few days later, this Federal Corps engaged General Braxton Bragg's Confederate army on the battlefield at Perryville - the fight that decided the fate and future of Kentucky in the Civil War.

Today, Mt. Washington is a vibrant and thriving city of well over 21,000 people.  Mount Washington recently received recognition as one of the safest communities for children and families in Kentucky.  The town’s Bullitt East High School was named a “school of distinction,” ranked in the top 10 performing schools in Kentucky.  Volunteer organizations such as the Lions and Lioness clubs sponsor both the fall and spring town festivals and help lead the way to a successful community.  Active organizations, top notch schools, forward-looking city government leadership and a devoted group of citizens who respect our town’s history bodes well for a bright future for the City of Mt. Washington.

A special thank you to Alice Harris for her insight in the history of Mt. Washington and to the Mt. Washington Historical Society for allowing us to use some of their photos.  Please take a moment to visit their website: Mt. Washington Historical Society

Below are some additional links to Bullitt County History's website:


Street Sign - Copy
82 Lots
Fire Truck
Gas Station