Corbin, Kentucky’s claim to fame is the Colonel Sanders Museum and Cafe, the birthplace of KFC. But is it? What about that second city listed on this postcard – Asheville!
That’s right, Harland Sanders’ 2nd Motor Court, and Cafe, were located just north of Asheville, on Highway 25, which was a well traveled highway before the “future” Interstate 26 broke through town.
We’ll let Kentucky keep the title of birthplace, since they bestowed him with “Colonel,” but it is neat that Asheville once had a little piece of the Sanders’ Pie.
The first Cafe the Colonel started was in Corbin, Kentucky in 1930 after customers at his Shell Oil gas station were requesting something to eat. Sanders was 40 at this time, and had already been a farmhand, a streetcar conductor, a soldier in the Army, an insurance salesman, owner of a steamboat ferry company, secretary of a Chamber of Commerce, a railroad man, a lawyer, and probably a few more things in between.
By 1935 his Cafe, Motel and gas station was so popular he earned an honorary “Colonel” title from Governor Ruby Laffoon. Sanders didn’t actually use the title until he needed better branding to sell his fried chicken on the road in 1949. After failing at starting a restaurant chain in Kentucky, Sanders built another motor court in 1939, this time in Asheville, NC!
This soon failed as well, but as we know, everything turned out fine for the Colonel.
The Asheville Sanders Court has lost the “s” at the end, but it still stands today, as an apartment complex just north of Asheville.
And, you can still follow 25 all the way from Asheville to Corbin; my sister and brother-in-law can attest to this, as we had to get a not-fast-enough for the interstate Jeep from Elizabethtown to Asheville. It takes a while, but its a pretty drive, and that’s what road trips are for – take your time, see some America, and get some fried chicken!
For more info, check out this guest post by author Terry Roberts: