Tri-City refers to Lynch, Benham and Cumberland KY. This sign, part of which is missing, is on a doorway in the back of the abandoned high school in Lynch.
This is in Middlesboro KY. I thought the building was interesting, faced in coal and such. I emailed a polite request for information on the building. Never got an answer. Incidentally, this was taken on a Saturday. The Chamber of Commerce was closed, locked and latched.
Anyway, the structure was built in 1926 using 42 tons of bituminous coal (which is 2.6 tons more than the person in the 1946 Merle Travis hit “Sixteen Tons” loaded. Incidentally, George S. Davis claimed to have written the song in the 1930s as “Nine-to-Ten Tons”. Check it out here). That title is more general, since “number 9 coal” apparently refers to a particular seam of coal in Kentucky (there are multiple other claims to origin).
I know that Tennessee Ernie Ford (“Old Ern” from Bristol TN/VA) recorded this in 1955, but his version is generally considered to be more jazz than country.
And, man, could Tennessee Ernie sing hymns. Better than George Beverly Shea and without the strange pronunciation of words, like “lard” for “Lord”.