Updated: Jun 29, 2021
Portal 31 is located in Lynch, Kentucky.
It is Kentucky's first exhibition mine.
Phone : 606.848.3131
Adults for Museum $8.00
Adults for Portal $18.95
Seniors (62+) Museum $6.00
Seniors (62+) Portal $16.95
Children (students 3 -12) Museum $4.00
Children (students 3-12) Portal $8.95
Reservations for groups of more
than 15 persons require a non-refundable deposit.
In Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia, coal mines are just as much a part of life as good country eating and church on Sundays. Yet, for many in the area, the opportunity to take a closer look into the industry that our small towns and communities are built around, still remains somewhat illusive. Portal 31 seeks to open that door and let you take a good look inside. Here is what you'll find.
Photo Credit : Abby Rice
Upon arrival, you can choose between the museum or the museum and portal. While the museum grants you access to good historical information and pictures, let's be honest, the whole point is to get in a rail cart and ride deep back into a mine.
Anybody got a flashlight?
It should go without saying, you are riding back into a coal mine and it is dark! Most of your journey will be lit only by the head lamp of the gentleman driving the rail cart. This isn't to suggest there is no lighting at all, but rather, not much. At key points along your journey, you'll stop and lights will illuminate animatronics positioned in various ways. Audio also plays at these points and correlates directly with what that particular scene is illustrating. On these stops, you'll learn more about history, machinery, work, and the culture of Kentucky.
The video below is from inside the mine whilst riding on the rail cart with audio playing over head. Just to give you an example of how dark it is.
There isn't really an abundance of pictures to share here, because again, you are inside a dark mine. I would say the tour ran roughly between 40 to 45 minutes.
I do want to note, toward the very end of the tour, there is a small film presentation. If you plan on watching this, you need to be in the front rows of the rail cart. We sat in the row next to last and couldn't see anything. I have no pictures and can't even tell you what the small film was about. You will spend more time sitting at this location than at any other stopping points, so if it's worth it to you, grab those front seats.
But wait there's more....
Also on the site is the Office and Bathhouse.
Outside, on the grounds, you'll find a memorial and old equipment on display.
Across the Road
The Lamp House Coffee Shop and Cafe
The Cafe is absolutely adorable and cozy. I came here in the fall and the hot chocolate was mind blowing good. The staff was friendly and the environment was clean, including the restroom, which always gets bonus points from me. Here is a link to their site which includes the menu. They serve much more than coffee and hot cocoa.
On this same side of the road, you'll find the L & N train depot load out system. You can climb up onto the trains and enter them. The little train enthusiasts in your home will love it.
The caboose, my apologies that my only picture of this, is my husband hanging his caboose off the caboose.
You'll also find throughout eastern Kentucky these black bears and quite honestly, they are too beautiful not to be mentioned.
Just a Mention
For out of state travelers, The Benham Inn or the Benham School Inn is a school that was converted into a hotel. This might be a possible stop on your visit. I can't share much with you about the hotel. I had a very limited view on my visit because we couldn't seem to locate anyone who actually worked there. On our visit, our group of five and two other groups gathered on the porch/entrance way and in the foyer. It was pretty akward and someone even gave the bell a ding. I finally broke silence by asking one of the other individuals if they were staying in the hotel, they were not. Our group specifically was hoping to catch a good meal after reading reviews online. I will note, to be fair, this was during Covid post quarantine in the fall season of 2020. As you can see in the picture, they did have a big welcome sign placed out front. The pictures online look amazing and it might be worth a visit.
This is actually my favorite picture from the whole trip:
Not far from here is also Kingdom Come State Park. To get the details on that just follow the link below.
As always, keep it safe, keep it cool, and stay curious