Loretta Lynn is a country music icon, born Loretta Webb on April 14, 1932 in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. Named for actress Loretta Young, she had seven brothers and sisters. Her father was a coal miner and farmer.
At the age of 15, she married Oliver Vanetta “Doolittle” Lynn, an Army veteran and moonshiner. A year later, the pair moved to the logging community of Custer, Washington so that he could find work.
It was here that Lynn gave birth to the first of her six children. In 1953, “Doolittle” bought Loretta her first guitar, which she used to write songs about the rocky points in her marriage.
She soon started playing for a local radio station and forming a band with her brother to play at bars. In the 1950s, she was discovered at a Tacoma, Washington talent competition, leading to her first record deal.
From there, the family moved cross-country to Nashville and recording her first hit, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl.” She played at the Grand Ole Opry, becoming a member in 1962, and became the top female country recording artist.
Her legacy has only continued in the last fifty-plus years. But it wasn’t all highs. She lost the publishing rights to her early songs to the Wilburn Brothers after their business relationship soured. Her husband had affairs and was a heavy drinker.
But she has had countless hits, ranging from the political (“The Pill” and “Dear Uncle Sam”) to the timeless (“Coal Miner’s Daughter and “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)”).
She has won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, seven Academy Awards for the film based on her life, and 13 Country Music Awards, and three Grammys. Her most recent album was released in 2018.
Loretta Lynn Homeplace, Butcher Hollow, Kentucky
As she documented in the song “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Lynn grew up in Butcher Hollow, a small town in coal country. The modest wood cabin where the family lived now operates as a museum on her life and career.
In nearby Van Lear, Webb’s Grocery also has a small exhibit in the 100-year-old store formerly operated by her brother. The Coal Miners’ Museum, also in Van Lear, was featured in the film “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and educates visitors on the coal industry.
The US 23 Country Music Highway Museum in nearby Staffordsville honors the many musicians to come from Kentucky, including Lynn.
Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee
The Grand Ole Opry has long been a breeding ground for country music’s biggest artists. That is certainly the case for Loretta Lynn, who first appeared on the stage in 1960, becoming a member shortly after.
The Opry was founded on November 28, 1925, as the “WSM Barn Dance,” the show gradually evolved into a program that launched the careers of country and gospel entertainers. It’s now a Nashville icon.
Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, Hurricane Mills, Tennessee
After years in smaller homes around Nashville, she moved to Hurricane Mills to the mansion that became Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. The country legend created the landmark around the mansion she previously lived in, which is now open for tours.
Today the ranch is one of Tennessee‘s top attractions. Located between Nashville and Memphis, it’s also home to the Coal Miner’s Daughter Museum, inspired by her famous hit, along with a recreated Western town, a replica of her childhood home in Butcher Holler, a simulated coal mine, and a Native American artifact exhibit.
Visitors can also enjoy outdoor recreation like fishing, swimming, and kayaking. The ranch has campsites for RVs and tents and cabins, along with restaurants and souvenir shops.
The town in the Pacific Northwest is where Loretta Lynn lived for 14 years with her husband and ultimately where her career began. Superfans can see her former and the venues where she played before hitting it big.
Looking for a place to stay during your Loretta Lynn pilgrimage? Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville is convenient. Hurricane Mills offers glamping along with cabins. Ramada by Ramada By Wyndham Paintsville Hotel & Conference Center is close to her home in Kentucky.