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Kentucky is now ‘Houseboat Capital of the World’

Governor makes declaration at Lake Cumberland

JAMESTOWN, Ky. (Sept. 3, 2014) — Kentucky is now the “Houseboat Capital of the World.” Gov. Steve Beshear today joined state officials and community leaders in making the declaration at Lake Cumberland State Resort Park in Jamestown.

houseboat“Kentucky is known for horses, bourbon and automobiles —and now we add houseboats to that distinguished list,” Beshear said. “The first houseboats originated in Kentucky more than a half century ago, and since then boating has been a staple of our economic and tourism efforts.”

The Kentucky boating industry contributes more than $826 million a year. In 2012, Houseboat Magazine reported that the Lake Cumberland region produced more houseboats than any other area of the nation. Jim Sharpe, of Somerset, is credited with building the first houseboat in 1953.

Beginning in the 1990s, Kentucky’s houseboat industry entered into international markets with houseboats being shipped to Dubai, Russia and the Netherlands. Since then, thousands of houseboats have been built around the shores of Lake Cumberland.

Kentucky’s houseboat industry has also impacted tourism in the region for recreational house boating.