Owensboro is a home rule-class city in and the county seat of Daviess County, Kentucky, United States. It is the fourth-largest city in the state by population. Owensboro is located on U.S. Route 60 about 107 miles (172 km) southwest of Louisville, and is the principal city of the Owensboro metropolitan area. The 2015 population was 59,042. The metropolitan population was estimated at 116,506.
BBQ Capital of the World
Location of Owensboro in Daviess County, Kentucky.
|Settled (as Yellow Banks)||1797|
|Established (as Owensborough)||1817|
|• Mayor||Tom Watson|
|• Mayor Pro Tem||Bob Glenn|
|• City Manager||William Parrish|
|• City||20.4 sq mi (52.9 km2)|
|• Land||19.1 sq mi (49.5 km2)|
|• Water||1.3 sq mi (3.4 km2) 6.47%|
|Elevation||394 ft (120 m)|
| • Estimate |
|59,643 (Kentucky: 4th)|
|• Density||3,057/sq mi (1,180.4/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (CST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
|Area code(s)||270 & 364|
|GNIS feature ID||0500082|
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.
In August 1864, Owensboro was subject to a raid by a band of Confederate guerrillas from Tennessee led by Captain Jack Bennett, an officer in Stovepipe Johnson's Partisan Rangers. Bennett's men rode into Owensboro, tried and failed to rob a local bank, took 13 Union soldiers of the 108th Colored Infantry prisoner, executed them, burned the bodies on a supply boat, and escaped back to Tennessee, having covered a total of 300 miles (480 km) on horseback in six days. Another major battle occurred 8 miles (13 km) south of Owensboro and is today signified by a monument marking the battle located beside US Highway 431.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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., 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
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.
According to Owensboro's 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city were:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|1||Owensboro Medical Health System Hospital||3,606|
|2||U.S. Bank Home Mortgage||1,950|
|3||Owensboro Public Schools||767|
|5||Walmart / Sam's Club||718|
|7||Audubon Area Community Services||441|
|8||City of Owensboro||428|
|9||Owensboro Community and Technical College||391|
Owensboro was named an All-American City in 2013. 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.
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). 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 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Apollo High School is a high school that is part of the Daviess County Public Schools district, located in Owensboro, Kentucky, United States. It was named after the Apollo Space Program, and opened in 1969 as a junior high school. It then converted into a high school in 1972 and held its first graduation in 1974. The school paper is named The Challenger, after the Space Shuttle Challenger. This school also has a marching band program called the Apollo Marching Eagles.
Apollo has been involved in a 1-1 laptop project since August 2005, providing a laptop to every incoming freshman for their use during the school year.Brescia University
Brescia University is a coeducational Catholic university in Owensboro, Kentucky, in the United States. Founded as a junior college for women, it is now a coeducational university offering undergraduate and master's programs.Confederate Monument in Owensboro
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.International Bar-B-Q Festival
The International Bar-B-Q Festival is an event held in Owensboro, Kentucky, every second weekend in May since 1979. The festival provides an opportunity for sampling many varieties of barbecued meats, including chicken, mutton, and burgoo. Cooking teams compete for the Governor's Cup, awarded to the team judged to have the best barbecued cuisine. Other attractions include square dancing, musical performances, and arts and crafts. The Kentucky Department of Tourism recently (in 2006) projected an expected attendance of 85,000 for the festival.International Bluegrass Music Museum
The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum is a bluegrass music museum in Owensboro, Kentucky, United States. The museum has interactive exhibits, posters, costumes, live instrument demonstrations, and the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Fame. The museum has 2004 m2 (21,000 square feet) of exhibits and offices on three floors. As a non-profit group, the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum has raised funds with the help of famous bluegrass musicians such as Ricky Skaggs and Ralph Stanley.They host their own annual summer music festival, ROMP (originally designating River Of Music Party because it was held on the banks of the Ohio River). ROMP festival is typically held the last weekend in June each summer. Jam sessions are held at the museum the first Thursday of every month. The Bluegrass Music Museum & Hall of Fame is the world's only facility dedicated to the history and preservation of the international history of bluegrass music.Joseph H. McKinley Jr.
Joseph H. McKinley Jr. (born 1954) is a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.Kentucky Wesleyan College
Kentucky Wesleyan College (KWC) is a private Methodist college in Owensboro, Kentucky. The college is known for its liberal arts programs. Fall 2016 enrollment was 785 students.Larry Vanover
Larry Wayne Vanover (born August 22, 1955) is an American professional baseball umpire. Vanover worked in the National League from 1991 to 1999. He did not umpire in 2000 and 2001, and since 2002 has umpired across both major leagues. Vanover has umpired in three Division Series (2006, 2013, 2016), three League Championship Series (2003, 2007, 2011), and the 2016 World Series. He also has officiated in two All Star Games (1999, 2013) and the 2009 World Baseball Classic.Messenger-Inquirer
The Messenger-Inquirer is a local newspaper in Owensboro, Kentucky. The Messenger-Inquirer serves 15,087 daily and 20,383 Sunday readers in five counties in western Kentucky.Nick Varner
Nick Varner (born May 15, 1948 in Owensboro, Kentucky) is an American pool player who was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame in 1992. Varner was the winner of the 1999 WPA World Nine-ball Chammpionship.OMGcon
OMGcon (sometimes stylized as OMG!con) is a three-day anime convention held during June at the Owensboro Convention Center in Owensboro, Kentucky. The convention was previously held in Paducah, Kentucky. The name of the convention comes from the common abbreviation of Oh My God.Owensboro, Kentucky metropolitan area
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 referred to as Kentuckiana.Owensboro Community and Technical College
Owensboro Community and Technical College (OCTC) is a public community college in Owensboro, Kentucky. It is part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). Owensboro Community College (est. 1986) and Owensboro Technical College (est. 1929) consolidated to become OCTC. OCTC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to offer technical as well as associate's degree programs.Suzanne Miles
Suzanne Miles (born November 18, 1970) is a Republican politician from her native Owensboro, Kentucky, who represents the 7th District (Daviess, Henderson, and Union counties) in the Kentucky House of Representatives.Union Station (Owensboro, Kentucky)
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.WBKR
WBKR is an American radio station broadcasting a country music format on the FM dial at 92.5 MHz. The station is licensed to Owensboro, Kentucky. Its powerful 100,000-watt signal covers much of northwest Kentucky and southwest Indiana, including the Evansville area. The station is owned by Townsquare Media. The station transmits from a tower located near Utica, Kentucky on Kentucky Route 140. The studios are located at 3301 Freederica Street in Owensboro.WOMI
WOMI (1490 AM) is a radio station broadcasting a News Talk Information format. Licensed to Owensboro, Kentucky, United States, the station serves the Owensboro area. The station is currently owned by Townsquare Media and features programming from Fox News Radio, Premiere Radio Networks and Westwood One.WSTO
WSTO (96.1 FM, "Hot 96") is a heritage Top-40 radio station that serves the Evansville, Indiana, Owensboro, Kentucky, and Henderson, Kentucky markets. It is licensed to Owensboro and broadcasts from a 1,000-foot tower strategically located midway between these cities in the Kentucky town of Hebbardsville. WSTO's studio is located inside South Central Communications' headquarters on Mount Auburn Road in Evansville, Indiana, near the studios of WFIE-TV.WVJS
WVJS (1420 AM) is an American radio station licensed to serve the community of Owensboro, Kentucky. The station is owned and operated by Hancock Communications, Inc., doing business as the Cromwell Radio Group.
|Climate data for Owensboro, Kentucky|
|Average high °F (°C)||41.2
|Average low °F (°C)||23.2
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.3
Municipalities and communities of Daviess County, Kentucky, United States
County seat: Owensboro
County seats in Kentucky