The country ham gods are displeased. We fear for the weal of Ben Thurman of Fletcher Excavation. He’s the workman responsible for the demolition of the former Country Ham Motel, a famous roadside ‘Americana’ establishment that opened in Kentucky back in 1949.

We fear that this gentleman knows not what he hath wrought and a lifetime of discomfort and tragedy now awaits him.

We never had an opportunity to visit the Country Ham Motel but it is an absolute legend in the worlds of country ham and motels. The front facade featured a veritable country ham museum with dozens of country hams hanging in a large picture window for the world to gaze upon.

Country Ham Motel

Country Ham Motel

Construction of the Country Ham Motel cost owner Jimmy Siddens $15,000, certainly a lot of money in small town Kentucky at mid-century.

Back then you could rent a modest room for $3 per night and if you were hungry? Well, a 6 month old country ham would run you .80c per pound. We have a deep love for country ham but could not possibly eat .80c worth at that rate.

Scrolling through antique newspapers of that bygone era we discovered that even at that low price Mr. Siddens, a former butcher, was bringing in 250k per year. At his peak, the Country Ham Motel housed 6,500 hams; some in the motel and the bulk in a temperature controlled storage facility located behind the traveler’s rest.

Like many Kentuckians Jimmy Siddens knew the value of tale-telling. His account of the largest ham he’d ever seen may have been apocryphal but the mere thought of a six foot long, 120lb cured hog leg has us slobbering like a pack of redbone hounds.

When JFK traveled to Bowling Green in October of 1960 Siddens, ever the businessman, made sure that Kennedy received one of his prized hams. Kennedy was reportedly nonplussed at the mold that grows on all aged, country hams but was a good sport saying “If you say it’s good, I’ll eat it.”

In later years Siddens business suffered eventually becoming a ‘distressed property’ before changing hands and undergoing remodeling. Subsequently the structure was subdivided with tenants both residential and commercial.

The Country Ham Motel was destroyed by workmen for Fletcher Excavation of Bowling Green, Kentucky in August of 2015.

Here is a photo of the property when it housed a tattoo parlor

  1. Mark Manning says:

    Bowling Green KY is just a couple miles down the road from Mammoth Cave National Park. It wasn’t just the ham that brought in the folks who stayed at that motel back in the day.

  2. Bill McDonough says:

    My Dad loved to “put up” country hams in our basement in Chicago when I was a kid growing up in the 50’s. Loved em then, love em now. Every year we would take a trip to Florida, driving south, Dad always made our first night’s stop Jimmie Siddens Country Ham Motel. We’d stay the night and Dad would be up at dawn to make sure he got a chance to talk with Mr Siddens for awhile. I just dug out an old business card from the place, it has ham prices on the back, sure enough, “6 month old Country Hams……….80 cents/lb”. But hey, the Three year old hams…… $1.10/lb!, ugh “plus postage” 🙂

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