Hardin County, the fourth largest county in Kentucky, is a community in transition.

Struggling to preserve its small-town traditions while adapting to the pressures of population growth and the shift from an agriculture and industrial base to a service-based economy, the Heartland county sits at the crossroads of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

The county is strategically located along the busy I-65 corridor, transversed by the Blue Grass and Western Kentucky Parkways, 40 miles south of Louisville, 84 miles southwest of Lexington and 128 miles north of Nashville, Tenn.. Hardin County is within a days drive of 60 percent of the nations population. The county has an airport with a 5,000-foot runway and two railroads serve the area.

The county's population, as of July 2002, was 95,724, representing a more than 5.5 percent growth since 1990, according to the latest estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau. The growth would have been even more significant if Fort Knox, located in the northern end of the county, had not lost 9,000 soldiers in defense cutbacks during the 1990s.

Unlike most other counties in the state, Hardin County includes two cities of approximately equal size. The population of Elizabethtown, the county seat, grew 24 percent from 1990-2000 reaching 22,542 in the Census. Radcliff, the home of Fort Knox, grew 11.1 percent, reaching 21,961.

The county's civilian workforce includes 39,000 workers, but businesses in the county employ workers who commute daily from neighboring LaRue, Grayson, Breckinridge, Nelson, Meade, Hart, Green, Jefferson, Bullitt and Taylor counties.

The Town Mall in Elizabethtown attracts shoppers from surrounding counties. Hardin Memorial Hospital and related medical facilities also serve the region.

Elizabethtown Community College and Elizabethtown Technical College in Elizabethtown and McKendree College in Radcliff provide higher education and job-training opportunities for high school graduates.

Alcoholic beverages are available by the drink at restaurants in Elizabethtown and Radcliff, a relatively new development which has attracted the interest of national restaurant chains to do business in the county.

Two new entertainment venues have opened, the Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center at John Hardin High School, and the reopened and expanded State Theater in Elizabethtown.

The county now boasts what is considered the premium industrial development site in the state 1,600 acres of government land just outside the quaint, small town of Glendale, accessible from I-65.

The Lincoln Heritage House historical site, located at Freeman Lake Park in Elizabethtown, consists of two log buildings of the homestead built in 1789 and 1805 by owner Hardin Thomas and his friend Thomas Lincoln, father of Abraham Lincoln. A skilled carpenter and cabinetmaker, Lincoln built the stairways and mantlepieces and fashioned most of the woodwork in the building.

The former Hardin County Courthouse anchors Town Square in Elizabethtown.
Now home to the Hardin County Sheriff's Department, the courthouse thrived from its construction in the 1930s -- until it was replaced with an ultra-modern facility in 1999.

A stagecoach inn built in 1825, the two-story brick building has been restored and is a community center, historical library and garden.

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