Town on Beaver Creek, The

A town that floods repeatedly is bound to be lost eventually. But try telling that to the residents of Martin, Kentucky, who lived on the banks of Beaver Creek for nearly a century, stoically ignoring the foolishness of an existence that forced them to flee to high ground nearly every year. Upon returning home, they simply replaced the waterlogged linoleum in the kitchen. Again.
This is the story of an improbable place during its serendipitous heyday, when 860 people lived in an isolated hill town they loved so much that they rebuilt it, year after year after year. Why? Maybe they couldn’t live without the annual Fat-Lean Men’s Ball Game (sponsored by the PTA). Maybe the memory of the smell of chili wafting from the Hob Nob Café lured them back. Or perhaps they just couldn’t imagine a life without old Dick Osborn wandering down Main Street in a bathrobe, carrying a pot of steaming turnip greens and muttering to himself because, he said, he liked to hear a smart man talk.

In the 1930s, Michelle Slatalla’s great-grandfather Fred, a railroad man, arrived in town to take a job transporting coal out of the booming mines that ringed the valley. The family, fresh from the civilization of bluegrass country, stepped off the train at the Martin depot to find gunslingers on the platform, moonshine brewing in the basement of Doc Walk Stumbo’s hospital, and moviegoers patiently waiting for the final reel to arrive on horseback from the next town.