Why Does Kentucky Have Two Different Time Zones?

Why Does Kentucky Have Two Different Time Zones?
Why Does Kentucky Have Two Different Time Zones?

Kentucky is one of a few states that have multiple time zones. Both the Central Time Zone (CST) and Eastern Time Zone (EST) can be found in Kentucky. So, why does Kentucky have two different time zones?

It is because the state of Kentucky is wider than it is long. This means that the state crosses into two time zones. The dividing line for these two time zones is roughly two-thirds from the east of the state.

Let’s explain a bit more. Hopefully, this should give you more information about how Kentucky works. 

What Time Zones Is Kentucky In?

Kentucky is in two time zones:

  • Eastern Standard Time (EST) which is UTC-5
  • Central Standard Time (CST) which is UTC-6

The state acknowledges Daylight Savings Time in both time zones, which means that the time zone changes by an hour when DST is active. 

Why Does Kentucky Have Two Different Time Zones – In-depth Explanation 

While time zones are international, each country is responsible for determining where the time zone boundaries are, although they shouldn’t be too far away from the standardized time zones. This does mean that, in rare cases, they can be pushed to the state borders to make life a lot more convenient for the residents.

Congress is responsible for setting time zone boundaries in the United States. Unfortunately, Kentucky was far too wide for it to be reasonable to move the start of the CST time zone to the west of the state. So, Congress went for the next best option and that was to create a time zone boundary in Kentucky that would cause the minimum number of issues to the state’s residences. This means that the time zone split is through a reasonably unpopulated area. 

Do bear in mind that the time zones were planned a long time ago, which does mean that, in Kentucky, the line may go through a small town or village, or even around a major metropolitan zone. This means that, in some cases, a person living in Kentucky may have a neighbor with a completely different time zone! 

How Many People Live In Each Time Zone in Kentucky?

Kentucky’s time zone boundary is roughly 2/3rds in from the east coast. However, this doesn’t mean that the population is split at the same ratio between these time zones.

The EST portion of Kentucky plays host to the three most populated areas of the state:

  • Louisville
  • Lexington
  • Northern Kentucky

The exact line for the time zone split is hard to describe, due to how Congress has attempted to avoid populated areas. However, if you were traveling on the I65, one of the busiest roads in Kentucky, then the time zone would change between Hart and LaRue Counties. 

Is It Possible To Put Kentucky In One Time Zone?

It is unlikely that this will happen. While there have been changes made to time zones in the US, mostly to deal with changing populations, it is highly unlikely that the time zone line would be moved out of the state. It would be a lot of hassle for very little gain.

Final Thoughts

Kentucky is in two different time zones because the state is rather wide. So wide that a time zone line passes almost straight through the middle of it. While Congress could have opted to move the line to the state boundary, they decided that this would be moving the line far too far. Instead, they looked for the least populated section of Kentucky and decided to place the time zone division there instead.

Similar Topics 

Time Zones

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!