Owensboro, Kentucky

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Owensboro, Kentucky
Corner of West 3rd and St. Ann Streets in Owensboro
BBQ Capital of the World
"Progress 1817"
Daviess County Kentucky Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Owensboro Highlighted 2158620.svg
Location of Owensboro in Daviess County, Kentucky.
Coordinates: 37°45′28″N87°7′6″W / 37.75778°N 87.11833°W / 37.75778; -87.11833 Coordinates: 37°45′28″N87°7′6″W / 37.75778°N 87.11833°W / 37.75778; -87.11833
Country United States
State Kentucky
County Daviess
Settled (as Yellow Banks)1797
Established (as Owensborough)1817 [1]
Incorporated1850 [1]
  MayorTom Watson
  Mayor Pro TemLarry Maglinger
  City ManagerNate Pagan
   City 21.89 sq mi (56.71 km2)
  Land20.50 sq mi (53.10 km2)
  Water1.39 sq mi (3.61 km2)  6.47%
394 ft (120 m)
   City 57,265
(2019) [3]
  Density2,933.08/sq mi (1,132.48/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 270 & 364
FIPS code 21-58620
GNIS feature ID0500082
Highways US 60.svg US 231.svg US 431.svg I-165.svg
Website www.owensboro.org

Owensboro is a home rule-class city [4] in and the county seat of [5] Daviess County, Kentucky, United States. It is the fourth-largest city in the state by population. Owensboro is located on U.S. Route 60 and Interstate 165 about 107 miles (172 km) southwest of Louisville, and is the principal city of the Owensboro metropolitan area. The 2010 census had its population at 57,265. The metropolitan population was estimated at 116,506. [6] The metropolitan area is the sixth largest in the state as of 2018, and the seventh largest population center in the state when including micropolitan areas.



Evidence of American Indian settlement in the area dates back 12,000 years. Following a series of failed uprisings with British support, however, the last Shawnee were forced to vacate the area before the end of the 18th century.

The first European descendant to settle in Owensboro was frontiersman William Smeathers or Smothers in 1797, for whom the riverfront park is named. The settlement was originally known as "Yellow Banks" from the color of the land beside the Ohio River. The Lewis and Clark Expedition wintered at what is today's Owensboro prior to departing on their famous travels. In 1817, Yellow Banks was formally established under the name Owensborough, named after Col. Abraham Owen. In 1893, the spelling of the name was shortened to its current Owensboro. [7]

Several distillers, mainly of bourbon whiskey, have been in and around the city of Owensboro. The major distillery still in operation is the Glenmore Distillery Company, now owned by the Sazerac Company.

On August 14, 1936, downtown Owensboro was the site of the last public hanging in the United States. A 26 year old African American man, Rainey Bethea, was convicted and sentenced for the rape and murder of 70-year-old Lischa Edwards in a very short time (only 37 days lapsed between the crime and the execution). A carnival atmosphere was in place with vendors selling hotdogs, attended by a large crowd including children and many reporters. [8] The execution was presided over by a female sheriff, Florence Shoemaker Thompson, who gained national media attention for her role in the process, although she declined to spring the trap.[ clarification needed ] Before Bethea was dead, the crowd had already begun to tear at his clothes and even his body for souvenirs. The Kentucky General Assembly quickly abolished public executions after the embarrassment this caused. [9]

The end of the Second World War brought civil engineering projects which helped turn Owensboro from a sleepy industrial town into a modern, expanding community by the turn of the 1960s. Many of the projects were set in motion by Johnson, Depp & Quisenberry, a firm of consulting engineers then engaged in a runway redesign at the County Airport; the "Depp" in question was a member of an old and prominent Kentucky family which includes the town's most famous son, actor Johnny Depp.


As of 1903, Owensboro was home to several stemmeries. [10] Pinkerton Tobacco produced Red Man chewing tobacco in Owensboro. Swedish Match continues to make Red Man in a plant outside city limits. [11]

The Owensboro Wagon Company, established in 1884, was one of the largest and most influential wagon companies in the nation. With eight styles or sizes of wagons, the company set the standard of quality at the turn of the 20th century.

Frederick A. Ames came to Owensboro from Washington, Pennsylvania, in 1887. He started the Carriage Woodstock Company to repair horse-drawn carriages. In 1910, he began to manufacture a line of automobiles under the Ames brand name. Ames hired industrialist Vincent Bendix in 1912, and the company became the Ames Motor Car Company. Despite its product being called the "best $1500" car by a Texas car dealer, the company ceased production of its own model in 1915. The company then began manufacturing replacement bodies for the more widely sold Ford Model T. In 1922, the company remade itself and started to manufacture furniture under the name Ames Corporation. The company finally sold out to Whitehall Furniture in 1970. [12]

The start of the Kentucky Electrical Lamp Company, a light bulb manufacturing company was in 1899; it eventually was acquired by Kentucky Radio Company (Ken-Rad) in 1918 and later acquired by General Electric in 1945 and in 1987 acquired by MPD, Inc., [13] created the light bulbs that illuminated the first night game in the history of Major League Baseball on May 24, 1935, between the Reds and Phillies at Cincinnati's Crosley Field. [14] The Owensboro plant was a major part of General Electric's vacuum tube manufacturing operations, producing both receiving types and military/industrial ceramic types. In 1961, engineers at the General Electric plant in Owensboro introduced a family of vacuum tubes called the Compactron.

In June 1932, John G. Barnard founded the Modern Welding Company in a small building located near the Ohio River at First and Frederica Streets where the Commonwealth of Kentucky office building sits today. Today, Modern Welding Company has nine steel tank and vessel fabrication subsidiaries located throughout the United States, and five welding supply stores located in Kentucky and Indiana. The company is the country's largest supplier of underground and aboveground steel storage tanks for flammable and combustible liquids. The company celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2007. [15]

Texas Gas Transmission Corporation was created in 1948 with the merger of Memphis Natural Gas Company and Kentucky Natural Gas Corporation and made its headquarters in Owensboro. Since that time, Texas Gas changed ownership four times. The company was bought by CSX Corp. in 1983, by Transco Energy Corp. in 1989, by Williams in 1995, and by Loews Corporation in 2003. [16]


Military memorial on the riverfront Owensboro KY Military Memorial.JPG
Military memorial on the riverfront

Owensboro is located at the crook of a bend in the Ohio River, 37 miles (60 km) southeast of Evansville, Indiana.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Owensboro has a total area of 20.4 square miles (52.9 km2), of which 19.1 square miles (49.5 km2) is land and 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2), or 6.47%, is water. [17]


Owensboro has a humid subtropical climate which is characterized by hot, humid summers and moderately cold winters. Day-to-day temperature differences can be high during the winter. Summers, in comparison, are much more stable. Severe weather, including the threat of tornadoes, is not uncommon throughout much of the year, with several notable events occurring throughout the city's history.

Climate data for Owensboro, Kentucky
Average high °F (°C)41.2
Average low °F (°C)23.2
Average precipitation inches (mm)3.3
Source: climate-charts.com [18]


Historical population
1830 229
1850 1,215
1860 2,30890.0%
1870 3,43748.9%
1880 6,23181.3%
1890 9,83757.9%
1900 13,18934.1%
1910 16,01121.4%
1920 17,4248.8%
1930 22,76530.7%
1940 30,24532.9%
1950 33,65111.3%
1960 42,47126.2%
1970 50,32918.5%
1980 54,4508.2%
1990 53,549−1.7%
2000 54,0671.0%
2010 57,2655.9%
Est. 201960,131 [3] 5.0%
U.S. Decennial Census [19]

As of the census of 2010, there were 58,083 people and 23,380 households within the city. The population density was 2,999.1 people per square mile (1,198.4 per km2). There were 26,072 housing units at an average density of 1,394.7 per square mile (538.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 87.5% White, 7.3% African American, 0.9% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.55% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.2% of the population.

There were 23,380 households out of which 23.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.7% were married couples living together, 13.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.8% were non-families. 33.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the city, the population was spread out with 23.7% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,289, and the median income for a family was $41,333. Males had a median income of $33,429 versus $21,457 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,183. About 12.2% of families and 18.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.9% of those under age 18 and 12.4% of those age 65 or over.

Metropolitan area

According to the 2007 census, the Owensboro Metropolitan Area includes Daviess, Hancock, and McLean counties.


Top employers

According to Owensboro's 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, [20] the top employers in the city were:

#Employer# of Employees
1 Owensboro Health 4,125
2 U.S. Bank Home Mortgage 1,800
3Toyotetsu Mid-America779
4 Owensboro Public Schools 778
5Specialty Foods Group700
6 Walmart / Sam's Club 655
7Audubon Area Community Services539
8 UniFirst 445
9City of Owensboro439
10 Glenmore Distilleries 424

Arts and culture

Owensboro was named an All-American City in 2013. [21] Owensboro placed fourth on Area Development's Top 20 Southern Cities, with a 9th-place ranking for its "recession busting factors" among the Top 25 Small Cities. [22]


In 1937, Pope Pius XI established the Roman Catholic Diocese of Owensboro, which spans approximately the western third of the state. It includes 32 counties and covers approximately 12,500 square miles (32,000 km2). [23] Though the area has been considered by many to be predominately Catholic, evangelical denominations such as Southern Baptists have increased dramatically over the past several decades. The Kentucky Baptist Convention has many churches in the area. Owensboro is also home to Temple Adath Israel, which is among the oldest synagogues in the United States.

Owensboro is also the location of Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary's campus.

Events of interest

Concert during July 4th celebration, 2010 Owensboroconcert.jpg
Concert during July 4th celebration, 2010
Owensboro BBQ Festival, 2008 BBQfestival2008.jpg
Owensboro BBQ Festival, 2008

Points of interest


Daviess County Courthouse constructed in 1964 Daviess County, Kentucky courthouse.jpg
Daviess County Courthouse constructed in 1964

Owensboro has operated under a City Manager form of government since 1954. Citizens elect a mayor and four city commissioners who form the Board of Commissioners. The Board of Commissioners is the legislative body of the city government and represents the interests of the citizens. The Board of Commissioners hires a city manager who administers the day-to-day operations of the city.

The mayor is elected for a term of four years. Each city commissioner is elected for a term of two years. The term of the city manager is indefinite and based on performance.


The Owensboro Public Schools, Daviess County Public Schools, and the Diocese of Owensboro's Catholic School System oversee K-12 education in and around Owensboro.

Owensboro is home to two private, four-year colleges, Brescia University (Catholic) and Kentucky Wesleyan College, and one public community college, Owensboro Community and Technical College. A campus of Daymar College is also located in Owensboro, and Western Kentucky University has a regional campus there.

In 2006, plans were announced for a research center operated by the University of Louisville to be located at the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center, a part of the Owensboro Medical Health System, to study how to make the first ever human papilloma virus vaccine, called Gardasil, from tobacco plants. U of L researcher Dr Albert Bennet Jenson and Dr Shin-je Ghim discovered the vaccine in 2006. If successful, the vaccine would be made in Owensboro. [34]

Owensboro has a lending library, the Daviess County Public Library. [35]


The daily newspaper is the Messenger-Inquirer , owned by the Paxton Media Group of Paducah, Kentucky. [36]

Radio stations include WBIO, WXCM, WLME, WOMI, WVJS and WBKR broadcasting from Owensboro. One, WSTO-FM, is actually licensed to Owensboro, although its studios are now located in Evansville.

Although no television stations are based in the city, it is part of the Evansville television market, which is the 100th-largest in the United States, according to Nielsen Media Research. [37] However, in early 2007, WFIE-TV opened a bureau in Owensboro which covers news on the Kentucky side of the market. Many of the local television stations often promote themselves as serving Evansville, Indiana, Owensboro, Kentucky, and Henderson, Kentucky.


Owensboro Bridge and the Indiana riverbank as seen from Smothers Park in downtown Owensboro Owensboro Kentucky Bridge over Ohio.JPG
Owensboro Bridge and the Indiana riverbank as seen from Smothers Park in downtown Owensboro

I-165, US 60, and US 431 serve Owensboro, with US 431 terminating at the former US 60 Bypass (now signed US 60). US 231 and US 60 form a partial beltway around Owensboro. KY 81, KY 56, KY 331, KY 298, KY 54, and KY 144 also serve the city.

Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport serves, along with Evansville Regional Airport, as one of the region's primary commercial airports.

The Owensboro Transit System (OTS) offers bus transit to residents, and the Green River Intra-County Transit System (GRITS) offers specialized bus services to residents with disabilities who are not able to ride fixed-route public transportation buses.

Notable people

Sister cities

Owensboro has two sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International: [38]

See also

Related Research Articles

McLean County, Kentucky U.S. county in Kentucky

McLean County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 9,531. Its county seat is Calhoun. McLean is a prohibition or dry county.

Hancock County, Kentucky U.S. county in Kentucky

Hancock County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 8,565. Its county seat is Hawesville.

Daviess County, Kentucky U.S. county in Kentucky

Daviess County ( "Davis"), is a county in Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 96,656. Its county seat is Owensboro. The county was formed from part of Ohio County on January 14, 1815.

Masonville, Kentucky Census-designated place in Kentucky, United States

Masonville is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Daviess County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 1,014 at the 2010 census. It is included in the Owensboro Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Whitesville, Kentucky City in Kentucky, United States

Whitesville is a home rule-class city in Daviess County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 552 at the 2010 census, down from 632 at the 2000 census. It is included in the Owensboro, Kentucky Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city was founded in 1844 by Dr. William White, and named for him. The current mayor of Whitesville is Patsy Mayfield.

Henderson, Kentucky City in Kentucky, United States

Henderson is a home rule-class city along the Ohio River and is the county seat of Henderson County in western Kentucky in the United States. The population was 28,757 at the 2010 U.S. census. It is part of the Evansville Metropolitan Area, locally known as the "Tri-State Area". It is considered the southernmost suburb of Evansville, Indiana.

The Ames, originally established in 1881 by Frederick A. Ames, was a buggy manufacturer and later an American automobile manufacturer in Owensboro, Kentucky, from 1910 to 1925. A beetle-backed "gentleman's roadster" and a five-passenger tourer were the first models offered for sale by the company. The company also produced replacement bodies for the Ford Model T. At its peak the company produced approximately 30,000 vehicles. The last model the company made was called "The Kentucky Thoroughbred." In 1922, the company again remade itself, manufacturing furniture under the name F. A. Ames Corporation until 1941 when F.A. Ames Corp. filed for bankruptcy and most of its assets were purchased by the Whitehall Furniture Co. of Owensboro.

Southwestern Indiana Region of Indiana in the United States

Southwestern Indiana is an 11-county region of southern Indiana, United States located at the southernmost and westernmost part of the state. As of the 2010 census, the region's combined population is 474,251. Evansville, Indiana's third-largest city, is the primary hub for the region, as well as the primary regional hub for a tri-state area which includes Kentucky and Illinois. Other regional hubs include Jasper, Vincennes, and Washington.

WQXQ is a radio station broadcasting a Sports talk radio format. Licensed to Central City, Kentucky, United States, the station serves the Central City; the Owensboro, Kentucky; and the Evansville, Indiana, areas. The station is currently owned by Radio Active Media, Inc. WQXQ is considered a "Heritage Broadcast Station."

Owensboro metropolitan area Metropolitan area in Kentucky, United States

The Owensboro Metropolitan Statistical Area, as defined by the United States Census Bureau, is an area consisting of three counties in Kentucky, anchored by the city of Owensboro. As of the 2000 census, the MSA had a population of 109,875. In the 2010 Census the population was 114,752. Owensboro is part of the Illinois–Indiana–Kentucky tri-state area and sometimes, albeit seldomly, referred to as Kentuckiana.

Evansville metropolitan area Metropolitan area in the United States

The Evansville metropolitan area is the 160th largest metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the United States. The primary city is Evansville, Indiana, the third largest city in Indiana and the largest city in Southern Indiana as well as the hub for Southwestern Indiana. Other Indiana cities include Boonville, Mount Vernon, Oakland City, and Princeton. Large towns in Indiana include Chandler, Fort Branch, and Newburgh. Cities in Kentucky include Henderson, Dixon, Providence, and Robards and currently covers an area of 2,367 sq mi (6,130 km2). It is the primary metropolitan area in the Illinois–Indiana–Kentucky Tri-State Area.

Confederate Monument in Owensboro United States historic place

The Confederate Monument in Owensboro is a bronze sculpture based on a granite pedestal. It is located at the southwest corner of the Daviess County Courthouse lawn in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Union Station (Owensboro, Kentucky) United States historic place

The Union Station in Owensboro, Kentucky, is a historic railroad station, built in 1905. Built mostly for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, the station is made of limestone and slate, and currently is home to several businesses.

Suzanne Miles is a Republican politician from her native Owensboro, Kentucky, who represents the 7th District in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

U.S. Route 231 in Kentucky runs 86.465 miles (139.152 km) from the Tennessee state line near Adolphus to the William H. Natcher Bridge on the Ohio River near Rockport, Indiana. It crosses the state mainly in the west-central region, traversing Allen, Warren, Butler, Ohio, and Daviess Counties.

Yelvington, Kentucky Unincorporated community in Kentucky, United States

Yelvington is a small unincorporated community in the U.S. state of Kentucky, located approximately 12 miles east of Owensboro along U.S. Route 60 east and near the Daviess-Hancock county line.

U.S. Route 431 in Kentucky runs 86.93 miles (139.90 km) from the Tennessee state line south of Adairville to US 60 at Owensboro. It crosses the state in mainly west-central portions of the state, passing through or near towns such as Russellville, Lewisburg, Central City and Livermore. The route goes through Logan, Muhlenberg, McLean County, and Daviess counties.

Illinois–Indiana–Kentucky tri-state area Tri-State Region of the United States

The Illinois–Indiana–Kentucky tri-state area is a tri-state area where the U.S. states of Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky intersect. The area is defined mainly by the television viewing area and consists of ten Illinois counties, eleven Indiana counties, and nine Kentucky counties, centered upon the Ohio and Wabash Rivers.

Kentucky Route 331 (KY 331) is a 3.1-mile-long (5.0 km) state highway in the U.S. state of Kentucky. The highway travels through northwestern parts of Owensboro, within Daviess County.

Owensboro is a city in the U.S. state of Kentucky. "Owensboro" may also refer to:


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