Time for 'nother installment of my 1999 trip to the USA. As the title suggests, this trip contains my travels around the Bluegrass region of Kentucky - with a few diversions outside the area, including a trip to southern Indiana to check out some caves there.
I'm cheating a little bit with this part - during the period covered by this installment I went on a trip to England, after which I saw a few more sites in the Bluegrass. To keep things consistent themewise, I've had to sacrifice the chronological order - the London trip will be detailed in the next chapter.
The fort itself is a walled fort .. actually a square of cabins with a wall of sharpened wooden logs between each one. In the centre was a blacksmith's forge and an earth covered bunker that could have been either the powder room or the local gaol. In the original most the cabins were homes with a few communal buildings, but in the recreation most are done out as frontier shops and workshops (weaving, soap making, pottery etc) with a few cabins (in a fort each family was to be mostly self sufficient, apart from what they had to buy from traders from the east). There were people in period costume wandering around doing typical pioneer stuff and answering questions and talking to the tourists. The whole thing is obviously in it's early days and they plan on turning it into a "living history site" eventually, much like Williamsburg, Old Sydney Town and countless such places around the world. Each of the log cabins was full of period stuff, furnishings, tools and the like. One cabin is actually the home for half the year of one of the actors, the potter. An ancestor of the potter actually lived at the fort during Boone's day and he was re-enacting his ancestor. Speaking of re-enactments, they have regular re-enactments of the siege throughout the year. One of the cabins also has an Indian artefact collection, the usual mix of pottery, arrowheads and the like. There's also a small museum display on the Fort and it's time period, with paintings, documents, guns, powder horns and the like.
Had a look at the original site, which is on the banks of the Kentucky River. Nothing left of it now ... which goes without saying since after the fort was abandoned, it all soon rotted away. There's a marker there now, surrounded by a stone fence. The original site was also once home to the "Divine Elm", site of the first christian worship service in what's now Kentucky - 1775. The original tree is long gone now, tho' it's replacement has reached a reasonably impressive size. Also a nice looking beach on the river. There's also a 1.5-2 mile nature trail in the park. Very lush, green & humid, with lots of bugs and birds. Still, a pleasant walk.
Then headed west via the back country roads .. often no more than one lane .. at one spot half the road had fallen down the embankment. Road maintenance is obviously not a high priority around there! Travelled across the Kentucky River at Valley View on a river ferry which was the oldest continually operated business in Kentucky. Was the Hidden Valley Ferry, I think.
Hall is the home of Camp Nelson, the civil war training camp for "blacks" set up by the Union forces. Buildings from the camp are still scattered all over the area, as well as a huge cemetery and memorial. That wasn't why we went there tho' .. there's also the Jim Beam Nature Preserve. Took a bit to find it .. while the trail was well looked after, the trail _to_ the preserve was totally overgrown with waist high grass. Thanks to a helpful local, we did manage to find the trail, which was about 1-2 miles long. As it turned out, as we were driving away, we found the new entrance. *grin* Quite a different ecology from the trail at Ft Boonesborough, even tho' it wasn't all that far away. A lot drier, with mostly cedar pine trees, but also plenty of oak, elm and maple trees. Also a lot more open, with lots of wildflowers and grass for ground cover. While the Ft. trail was mostly just greens, this one had lots of colour - whites, yellows, blues and more. Of course, the place looks to have once been farmland so it's actually a regrowth forest - we saw some old stone fences well grown over. Lots of wildlife - saw plenty of insects & birds and heard quite a few larger animals, tho' didn't see 'em.
12th June, 1999: Marengo and
Squire Boone Caves of Southern Indiana
Time for some more caves. Well the first this trip, tho' far from the first I've seen in the US. Saw two caves in southern Indiana, Marengo Cave and Squire Boone Caverns. Despite the use of plurals in the two names, Marango Cave offers two different tours, while the Boone Caverns offers just the one.
Indiana has something like 2,600 known cave or cave systems, but only four have been opened as show caves - the two we saw today and Bluesprings Caverns & Wyandotte Cave, which I saw the last time I was in the US.
Marengo Cave was discovered in 1883 by two kids. Tours started a week latter for 25 cents and it has become Indiana's most popular natural attraction. Almost all the cave is "live" and quite young too, no more than a million years old. Well young by cave standards. The cave has two tours, the Crystal Palace tour and the Dripstone Trail tour. There's also another two tours for those who like crawling thru' narrow holes thru' the mud - one going thru' the Blowing Bat Crawl. So far they've discovered about five miles of caves. In addition to the cave tours there's also a walking trail, canoeing, horse riding and more.
We went on the Dripstone tour first, which was s'posed to last 70 minutes, tho' was more like 90 minutes for our tour. The one mile tour was only opened in 1979. It passes thru' Cave Hill Cemetery, named because of formations that look like headstones; Falls of Fire, a small waterfall which goes all the way down to the third (lowest) level; Sherwood Forest, a pixie-land shelf covered in tree-like formations; Snow White's Castle, complete with Snow WHite and her dwarves, all preserved in stone (the Wicked Witch again?) the Great Wall of China and the Looking Glass Lake, a series of rim wall dams, ranging in height from a few inches up to the final dam which was about 4 foot high; the Crystal Spring, where early cave explorers took a break to drink from a small spring, their rusted mugs covered with a coating of limestone remain still; the Prison Bars (also known as the lion cage), a row of narrow columns that really do look like bars on a cage and the Devil's Washboard, an unusual formation on the floor.
The tour then went to the second level of the cave, which started with the Penny Ceiling, covered in soft mud and where tourists could throw coins - it's said to be good luck if they stick, that doesn't explain the combs, pens, flash cubes and even stranger things stuck up there; the Music Hall, a large, formation free cavern (that part of the cave system is under a shale layer which stops the limestone rich water seeming thru' at that point) where they have bands, plays and an dance; Pulpit Rock, which looks like George Washington from one angle and an animal, can't recall what now; Elephant's Head, which looks like either an elephant's head, an eagle or a body wrapped in linen clothes, depending on one's point of view; and finally the Mirror Lake, dead still and looking many feet deep, but in reality only inches. The trail then leads back up to the surface and there's a small stream running most of the way, sprouting out of a little waterfall. The tour was over two different levels, the upper one was about 6-7ft from floor to ceiling and was packed full of formations. The second level was much larger, 20-30ft high with fewer formations. At several spots on the tour we saw some tiny bats.
The Crystal Palace tour was a 1/3rd mile, 35 minute tour that lasted just under an hour. It's just on the second (middle) level and started and ended at the Mirror Lake; then past Mt Vesuvius, which really looked like a volcano; the Tobacco Shed, not sure why it was named that, but there's also lots of rimstone dams nearby; the Tom-Tom, a limestone shelf that the guide beat with a rubber hammer, the sound of which could be heard all thru' the cavern system, said the guide; Discovery Falls, a free-flowing waterfall flowing in the middle of a chamber from the ceiling, which was the original entrance; Rocky Mountains, a series of flowstones; Queens Palace & Pillared Palace, furthest from the entrance and a room full of formations, and finally the Pipe Organ & the Crystal Palace, a spectacular room where they have a light and sound show. While the end of second level which was part of the first tour was relatively free of formations, this end was packed full of them.
Above ground there's a 6/10th's mile walking tour. It goes past the original entrance which looks like it's now sealed up. Lots of colourful insects and birds and few lizards along the trail. The birds stayed pretty still, just hopping around at absolute need - unlike the silly people who walked the trail in 90-plus temperatures!
Squire Boone Caverns, named after Daniel Boone's younger brother, is a few minutes drive from the Indiana-Kentucky border. In addition to the cave, there's a re-created pioneer village. The caves were discovered in 1790 by Squire and Daniel Boone, not long after, while trying to escape from some indian's, Squire sought shelter in the cave - it was a holy place for the indian's, so they wouldn't enter. Squire fell in love with the area and eventually settled there. Boone built a grist mill (1804) with an 18ft waterwheel near the cave, using a creek flowing from the cave mouth to power the mill. The mill has been restored to perfect working order and is once again grinding corn; upstairs there's also a museum of indian artefacts. The village has a number of "fake" cabins containing a gift shop, a rock shop and several craft workshops including a bakery, soap and candle making. Had a nice chat with the candle maker who told us how they make the candles - they actually make them for sale at some 6,000 gift shops across the country.
The original entrance to the cave was along a narrow crawl space, thru' out of which flowed a stream which fed a waterfall. There are two other, even narrower, entrances, which also gave birth to stream fed waterfalls on the hillside. It's a pretty shallow cave system, the lowest point just 90ft below the surface. The current entrance was along one of the underground streams, the Old Mill Stream, now dried up. Just inside the entrance, there's a corridor floored with the Lunar Terrace, a series of dry rimstone dams that looks kinda like the lunar surface - especially now that the stream has dried up (that happened before they made the entrance). The corridor opens up to the Reception Hall and it has to be one of the most spectacular caverns I've ever seen, if not the most. The cavern was full of fog, and fairly thick fog at that. The first time I've ever seen fog in a cave! Visibility was maybe 15 metres or so. And then there was the noise. The Hall was originally carved out by a whirlpool and contains two large waterfalls. Entering in at one end of the "hall" thru' a crevice was the "Lost River", so name because neither it's outside origin or eventual destination has yet to be found. The river falls down a series of cascades to the floor of the cavern, more than a million gallons a day - the Fountains of the Deep. The natural beauty of a waterfall is further enhanced by the limestone deposited as the water cascades down. The river flows along the floor and splits up, part falling down another waterfall with a loud roar to the level below, the other half continuing along the floor of the upper level.
Leaving the "hall" we pass under the Draperies. According to Indian legend, if a drop of water lands on you, you'll be married within the year. I got hit smack between the eyes. Well, there goes another Indian legend: no chance of that happening. The path then goes thru' a corridor full of formations and then over a long mesh bridge and passes over the top of another waterfall, heading down to the depths 12ft below. The path then continues over water and reaches yet another waterfall, this one formed from several rimwall dams. In other caves rimwall dams hold back lakes of placid water; here there's so much water that it rushes over the wall of the dam. There's no placid water in this cave system - which is the wettest in the USA. Passing that we enter a relatively "drier" part of the cave system, full of formations. There's the Canopy - water trickling down had laid down a series of "bars" along a mud embankment; latter the mud was washed away, leaving something looking like a covered porch or verandah. Dracula's Coffin is a coffin shaped block of rock that'd fallen from the ceiling and has a stalagmite growing from around the "chest" area. The Rock of Ages is a flowstone and column that's about a million years old, the oldest formation in the state. The last room on the tour was Death Valley, so named because it's the only dry cave in the system.
The waters of the caves contain a number of animals, including some blind, albino crayfish (yabbie) - tho' the first crayfish we saw was a "tourist" from outside.
When Boone died in 1815, at his request, his coffin was laid to rest in his beloved cave. In time the coffin fell to pieces and treasure seekers first "souveniered" the fragments of wood and then his bones. Today only his skull and a handful of bones remain. They now rest at piece (more or less) in a new coffin, which is in a deeper level of the cave, safely out of reach of treasure hunters.
17th June, 1999: Abraham Lincoln's
Spent the day touring around Hodgenville, Kentucky, birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, the man who ended slavery in the USA. At least legally - according to the weekend, some 25,000 "sex slaves" are brought into the USA every year. We visited four sites, the birthplace of Abraham's father, near Springfield, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln himself (Sinking Springs Farm), where he spent his childhood years (Knob Creek Farm) and a museum devoted to his life.
Knob Creek Farm, just north of Hodgenville, was where Lincoln spent his childhood years from 1811-1816. There's a recreation of the original Lincoln cabin on the site, built from timber taken from another local cabin of the same vintage. Despite attempts to restore it, the original cabin succumbed to time and the elements in the 1870's. The recreation is as close a reproduction as could be and is just 16x18ft in size - yet up to seven people lived there at any one time. Inside there's a simple bed, spinning wheel, cupboard, chairs, baby rocker, farming & cooking tools, games and the like. Pretty crowded, but much as it likely looked when Lincoln lived there. There's a loft where the children lived - the ladder to get up there consisting of three wooden pegs sticking out of the wall. The creek still flows and the land is still farmed. It was in this river that Lincoln almost drowned at the age of two. Coincidentally, the recreated cabin is made from the timber of the cabin where the youth who rescued Lincoln lived. Also on the site is a more recent tavern, the Knob Creek Tavern, now a museum and gift store.
The Lincoln Museum is in downtown Hodgenville, full of exhibits that trace Lincoln's life. Upstairs there's a gallery of paintings, documents and relics as well as a video on Lincoln's life. Lincoln himself had less than a year's formal education at a "blab school" - only the teacher had a book, the lesson was read out and the students repeated it until they got it right, a sound that could be heard some distance away. As a child living near Hodgenville, Lincoln saw slave trains regularly passing his parent's farm, heading south to work the plantations. Between the sight of slaves being treated worse than cattle and a local travelling preacher who preached against the evils of slavery, Lincoln came to hate the concept of slavery with a passion. Even tho' the region was pro slavery, Lincoln's parents were never rich enough to have slaves - slavery was a "luxury" pretty much limited to the wealthy. Lincoln's family moved to Knob Creek a few years after his birth because of problems with the family's land deed - someone else claimed to own the land. They settled at Knob Creek, 10 miles to the north, a much more fertile area. A few years latter, the family was forced to move yet again - for the same reason. This time the Lincoln's travelled north to Indiana where the family remained for many years before moving on again to Springfield, Illinois. Coincidentally enuf, Abraham's father was born at Springfield, Kentucky.
Downstairs there was a series of exhibits tracing Lincoln's life from his childhood to that fatal day at the theatre. One scene was of his childhood years at Knob Creek Farm, the next as a young man working at the family farm in Pigeon Creek, Indiana - Lincoln was a giant in more ways than one, at the age of 17 he had reach a height of 6'2". Then to the Berry-Lincoln store in New Salem, Illinois. It was here that Lincoln acquired his self-taught education and began his first forays into politics. The next exhibit was of the Todd-Lincoln house in Lexington, where Lincoln met, wooed and married Mary Todd. Then follow snapshots from Lincoln's political career: the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858 where Lincoln made clear his views on slavery; his drafting of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, freeing all slaves and forever prohibiting slavery in the USA; his second inauguration speech; the Gettysburg Address in 1863, honouring the 51,000 causalities in the Battle of Gettysburg - the guy introducing Lincoln gave a two hour speech, Lincoln's lasted just three minutes, but one of the most famous presidential speeches ever made; the Confederate surrender in 1865 and a few days latter, his assassination at Ford's Theatre.
A few curious things from the downstairs display: Lincoln is usually depicted with his famous beard, but it wasn't until the year he was elected president that he started to grow it, and then it was the result of a letter a young girl wrote to him, which said that he'd look more distinguished with one. Another oddity was that during the civil war, Kentucky had the unusual distinction of having been voted into the Confederacy, but having never seceded from the Union - so it was on both sides of the war, officially as well as in fact.
Outside there's a bronze statue of Lincoln, erected in 1909 and modelled on the famous stone statue of Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
Lincoln was born at Sinking Spring Farm, just south of Hodgenville, in 1809. The site is now a National Historic site, with a museum, walking trails and a memorial shrine on the site of the original Lincoln cabin. The shrine encloses a log cabin that was originally thought to be where Lincoln was born, tho' now known to have been a neighbour's cabin. For many years before the cabin was enshrined, it toured the country as part of an exhibition. The shrine was built about 1910 and is modelled on a Greek temple, made of marble and pink granite, with 56 steps, 30ft wide, leading up to the shrine - one for each year of Lincoln's life - and was built entirely from donated money.
The museum has a few exhibits on Lincoln and a video on his life, based on Lincoln's own accounts and from his friends and family. He was a devoutly religious man, said to have been the most religious president the USA has ever had. His grandfather, Captain Abraham Lincoln, travelled to Kentucky with Daniel Boone and the Lincoln family lived a poor and hard life. Abraham (the president) was born in a simple log cabin with a dirt floor and a single window covered with greased paper or animal skins. Lincoln summarised his childhood with the sentence: "The short and simple annals of the poor".
The walking trail goes thru' the forest and eventually comes to the original Sinking Springs (originally known as Cave Spring), for which the Lincoln's farm was named. The spring is at the bottom os a sink hole; a small cave full of moss and ferns. Even a birds nest with hatchlings in it. There's a circular hole at the bottom of the sinkhole dropping to a second level below containing a pool of water. Cascading down into the hole is a small spring fed waterfall. No way of telling how extensive the lower level it tho'.
Some 45 minutes drive north-east of Hodgenville is the Lincoln Homestead State Park, sited on land settled by Abraham Lincoln's grandfather, also Abraham Lincoln, in 1782. On the site there's a re-creation of the Lincoln cabin, a period blacksmith workshop and the home where Nancy Hanks, Abraham's mother, lived before she married.
Captain Lincoln's cabin is a rather simple cabin, with simple furnishings - even tho' it's a generation older than that where his grandson was born, it's more elaborate. Captain Lincoln was killed in an Indian attack in 1787. Further down a trail one crosses a small covered bridge to the blacksmith's shop, once operated by the Berry's. Abraham's father, Thomas, was a blacksmith and learn his trade near where he was born.
The Berry House is also on the site, moved there from its original location a mile away. Abraham's mum, Nancy Hanks, lived there before she married Thomas. In fact Thomas proposed to Nancy in the house. The building has been modified a bit since its early days, so it's hard to tell which are the original parts. Nancy was an illegitimate child of a daughter of a wealthy Virginian plantation owner. The house has two floors, a family room with a big fireplace, spinning wheel, bed, cupboard, chairs etc; a second bedroom with a stairway to the second floor. On the upper floor was a collection of period stuff including spinning wheels, a bed (Nancy Hank's bed!), loom and even another fireplace. Behind the family room was a breezeway with large doors on either side (to catch the breeze in the hot summers and ventilate the house) leading to the kitchen which is full of typical period kitchen stuff - including a cupboard full of what suspiciously looks like old pottery bourbon jugs. Outside there's a memorial to Nancy. She was Thomas Lincoln's second wife; his first wife having died of "milk fever".
Had a look at the Mordecai Lincoln house (1797), also part of the park. Mordacai was Thomas' brother. The current house was built around Mordecai's log cabin in the early 1800's.
Finished off the day we checked out the Mount Zion Covered Bridge over the Little Beech Fork, built in 1865, 16ft wide and with a 211ft span. Alas it's seen better days; the bridge itself is in a fairly good condition, but it's covered with graffiti, some of it best not repeated in polite company. Then a nice drive along a country road - very "country", having to watch out for farm animals wandering across the road. *grin*
24th June, 1999: Carter Caves,
Time for another cave trip. :) This time to Carter Caves in eastern Kentucky. There are lots of activities available above ground including hiking trails, camping and canoeing. But of course the main attraction was the caves. The area has the highest concentration of caves in Kentucky, with 22 in the park itself and 200 in the county! There are three show caves at the park, Cascade Cave, named after its waterfall, X Cave so named because it consists of to passages that intersect to make an X and Saltpetre Cave which was mined for saltpetre during the 1812 war. There are also other caves open for tours, but all of these are "crawl in the mud" tours. The most famous is the Bat Cave tour, so named because it's home to large numbers of bats. Bat, Saltpetre and X Caves are right near the visitors centre but Cascade Cave is a 10 minute drive to the south, at the edge of the park.
Saltpetre Cave is the historical cave tour. It covers about 1/2 mile and takes an hour. The cave is mostly dry and dusty, the only water is limited to a few spots. On unusual thing about this cave is its temperature .. while most caves average around 52F, this one is about 47F - the difference because the cave is very deep and there is much less air circulation between the cave and the outside air than is the case with most caves. The entire cave system is covered by a sandstone cap, which keeps the cave dry - apart from a few places where water has seeped thru' the cracks and has left some soda straws on the ceiling and near the entrance, where there is a rarity: limestone formations in the sandstone later ... limestone rich water seeps thru' the surface layer of limestone down a crack in the sandstone layer and deposited a bunch of formations in a hollow in the sandstone. Because there is little water seeping thru' into the cave and the river which carved the cave out has long since vanished, the humidity inside is very low ... so much so that the remains of the mining operation are in near perfect condition, although the wood has desiccated and weighs but a fraction of its original weight.
Prior to discovery the cave system had been almost entirely filled with soil and bat guano .. so much so that there was barely a foot of space left. At one time there were 100,000's of bats living in the cave. The soil is rich in nitrates which the miners extracted by filling wooden boxes, drizzling water thru' the soil, collecting the water and boiling it down. Walking thru' the cave it's amazing just how much soil was mined - some 6ft or so of soil had been processed and removed from the cave system over the entire 1/2 tour and more again, the corridors being up to 90ft wide, tho' usually around 15-20ft ... some half a million cubic feet. And that was just the soil removed from the cave system, a lot of the soil processed was dumped back in the cave. That yielded some 30,000 lb of saltpetre, which would have lasted only a few hours during the war.
The roof of the cave has lots of "pot holes" in it, most less than a foot "deep", but some up to 6ft or more. One of the larger ones is named the Liberty Bell. One cavern is called the Miner's Bedroom, one of the caverns excavated by the miners ... and miners really did sleep down there for the stretch of their three month duty. Living in the cave meant they were closer to where they were working (so could work longer hours) and also avoided the hassles of temperature differences between the cave and the outside. In the "bedroom" they kept bedrolls, piles of wood, oil lamps etc. The Miner's Well is one of the few places in the cave where water could be found - water trickled thru' a crack in the ceiling, filling up a dam built underneath. Quite a few soda straws in the area. The water was used for drinking, but more importantly for the mining operation, washing the saltpetre from the soil. The present dam was built in the 1930's - they are not sure what the original looked like. There was even plumbing in the mine! Bamboo canes joined together to pipe the water from the "well" to where the soil was washed near the entrance. A big crack between two passages is called the "Mummy Crack" - from a distance it casts a shadow that looks something like an Egyptian mummy. Tours of the cave began in 1869 and the original owners added in a fake "indian grave" as a tourist trap: a grave shaped hole in the ground. There's also graffiti dating back to that first tour in July, 1869. Oh, and at one time the cave was also used by counterfeiters.
X Cave really does have an X-shape, it covers about 1/4 mile and takes 3/4hour. The cave consists of two high and narrow passages, connecting at the centre and open to the outside at all four ends. The tour enters one exit, travels to the end of that passage, exits outside, comes back in via the end of the other passage and finally exiting at the other end of the second passage. There's the Great Chandelier, lots of cave coral, the Giant Turkey - which comes with a legend about Daniel Boone, the Pipe Organ, Headache Rock and the Column. For all that, the cave does not have all that many spectacular formations - it's main attraction is it's shape. There are draperies, flowstones, stalagmites, stalagmites, soda straws and the like. Unusually, the largest formation has no name. The Pipe Organ consists of large, hollow ribbed draperies; when the cave was privately owned, tour guides hit the draperies with a hammer to make music, each drapery having a different pitch. Today many show signs of damage or have even been broken off. About 30% of the cave is alive, tho' most of the rest is covered with condensation - because there are so many entrances and the passages fairly straight, there's a lot of air circulation, bringing in the hot, humid air from outside (in summer), which quickly cools inside the cave, leaving a light fog and walls covered in droplets of water. With so many caves in the area, it's impossible to know just who by and when any one cave was discovered, what is known is that by 1812 tours of the cave were already being run.
The park is home not only to stacks of caves but quite a few giant rock arches or "natural bridges". There's three of note in the main section of the park: Fern Bridge, a 90ft high, 120ft long sandstone arch spanning a valley and covered with ferns and a small waterfall (alas we didn't get to see this one); Smokey Bridge, the largest in the park, over 90ft high and with a tunnel some 220ft long - the largest in Kentucky; and Carter Caves Natural Bridge, 180ft long and with a road on top.
Cascade Cave is actually several cave tours - the tour goes into and out of three separate caves with broad passages, although one of them isn't actually a cave but a partially covered sinkhole. That tour is about 3/4 mile and lasts just over an hour. Cascade Cave itself is the largest in the park. Entering the cave, the tour goes thru' the Dance Hall (a dry cavern) where a previous owner made use of the great acoustics and natural "air conditioning" to hold square dances (this was back in the days before AC), one sad feature is that the fairly flat floor was the result of the then owner going thru' and smashing all the stalagmites to rubble. The "hall" is about 15-20ft high and 30-40ft wide, so plenty of room for a crowd to dance. The next cavern was the Lake Room, which has a small lake and stream, exiting out of a natural entrance, thru' which enuf light comes in to dimly light up the cavern. It also lets in the outside air and since it was a hot and humid day, the cavern was filled with a light fog. Unusually, the cave has a sand floor.
Exiting from that cave the tour goes outside and renters North Cave which is not thought to be connected to the Cascade system. The North Cave boasts the Cathedral Room, full of stalagmites, stalactites, soda straws, columns etc; early tours (since the 1830's) had only lamp light and they thought the cave looked like a cathedral. As with the other two cave tours, there was the obligatory "lights out". Back into Cascade Cave for more caverns and The Old Man, Eagles Head and the Turtle. The last cavern was called the Dragon Slayer Cavern, so named because of a formation that looks like a dragon's head and neck hanging down from the ceiling, along with a wing. When it's raining outside, water drips or pours out of the open mouth, which looks like it's screaming. Leaving the cave we make another outside detour before going down into a sinkhole to see the 30ft waterfall for which the system is named. Not much volume, no more than 10-15 litres per minute. A previous owner roofed over the sinkhole so it's now an "artificial" cave for much of it's length. The water is a cool 55F and all efforts to find its source have so far failed.
After the caves we went for a hike on the Cascade trail, a 3/4 mile trail over hilly terrain which passes thru' lush forest (lots of poison ivy - I guess I'm not allergic) and is said to be the most scenic in the park. Lots of colourful bugs and noisy bird calls. Apart from the flora and fauna, it's most notable features are the Cascade Bridge and the Box Canyon. The arch is right up against the cliff face, only a slight crack a foot or two wide between the cliff & the arch. One could walk between the two. The Box Canyon has 60ft high sheer sandstone walls, some actually curving over, and which really does look like the inside of a box.
25 & 26th June, 1999: Fort
Hill, Civil War Battlesite, Frankfort, Kentucky - Opening
This weekend was the opening of the Leslie Morris Park, site of two civil war forts. On the evening of the 25th I went on an evening "lantern" tour of the site. The 26th was the official opening. The 158 acre park, which covers most of Fort Hill, was sold to the city of Frankfort in the 1960's for the sizeable sum of $1. The park is a wilderness, almost totally undeveloped apart from a road and a walking trail up to the top where the forts are located, which has been partially cleared. There's plenty of wildlife in the forested park including foxes and a herd of deer. Yet for all that it's right in the centre of Frankfort, the park edging up to the downtown area. Prior to the civil war the hill was cleared farmland, but after the war it was abandoned and was reclaimed by the forest. It's now thickly forested.
The walking trail heading up to the hill top was actually the old supply road for the fort, "Military Road". A rough trail, surfaced with gravel in places and just wide enuf for a wagon with a team of four horses. In places there are dry-stone (no mortar) retaining walls, original to the 1860's and still in near perfect condition, some up to 10ft high. All that was needed for the park opening was to clear the forest and undergrowth from the road. A guide took the group up the trail, explaining the history and features of the road and pointing out the wildlife. There were lots of animal holes, birds chirping and hordes of fireflies. The trail has a hairpin switch back so that the grade wasn't too steep for the wagon. About 3/4's the way up is the remains of a watering trough and spring house. All up it was about a 20 minute walk up to the top of the hill. Once there we were met by a guy with the promised lantern and dressed in a period militia uniform.
The forts are now just humps on the ground - civil war forts were made of earthen walls which were a lot more effective at withstanding an artillery attack than wood or stone. The walls of the first fort were 6ft high and 9ft high in the second, newer, fort. Even with the forest on the hill, there's a great view. Back in the 1860's when the hill was bare, the view must have been spectacular. Fort Boone was built in 1863 and the New Redoubt was built in 1864 after a Confederate attack. The civil war era forts were not the first to be built on the hill: earlier in the frontier days, a small fort existed there, tho' it was long gone by the time the civil war forts were built.
In early June, 1864, Confederate forces captured southern Frankfort - making it the only Union capital to be occupied by Confederate forces .. in fact Frankfort was also occupied in 1862 by the Confederates and it was that short occupation that led to the building of Ft Boone. The local militia manned the fort and fired a barrage of cannon fire into southern Frankfort, successfully keeping the Confederates south of the Kentucky River - the then State Capitol, Governor's Mansion and the downtown were north of the river. The Confederates made a last attempt to reach northern Frankfort and silence the fort by sneaking across the river and landing in the cemetery. The soldiers in the fort promptly shelled the cemetery, forcing a retreat. Soon after, a Union army arrived on the scene and the Confederate forces left.
While the tour was there, there was a re-enactment going on. No battles or anything - despite popular myth, soldiers don't spend most of their time in battle - instead there were groups of Union and Confederate soldiers setting up camp. The Union soldiers to "defend" the fort, the Confederates planning to attack. The first camp we reached was the confederate one. They did have sentries posted and the tour guide was "interrogated": he confessed that "we" were a party of Confederate sympathisers from Frankfort. It was a very rough camp, no tents or anything, just a few blankets on the ground, a fire and a few men having dinner, all sheltered by a dry-stone wall, a relic of the farming days. The lack of tents was actually pretty common for Confederate forces - they usually travelled light. At 7pm on the 10th, the Confederates attacked the fort and got into a rifle battle before being driven off.
As an ironic twist of fate, while the Union was anti-slavery, Kentucky was pro-slavery (but part of the Union) and the fort itself was built mostly by slave labour. From the fort there is a wonderful view of downtown Frankfort - all the moreso at dusk, with the city nestled amongst green hills, buildings lit up and a light fog drifting thru' the valley. Quite beautiful. The fort itself boasted two 20lb Parrott guns, each capable of reaching targets 2.5 miles away - although during the battle they were manned by the militia and their accuracy was less than that of regular soldiers. There was a fair bit of "collateral damage" or whatever the current military doublespeak term is. Still, they were successful. The battle itself had no military strategic value: no matter which side won, there was a large Union army due to arrive the next day. If the Confederates had won, the history of Frankfort would have been very different: the Union army would have flattened downtown Frankfort in order to drive the Confederates out and the capital would have been moved to another city ... there was a lot of pressure to move the capital already.
The tour then went into the fort itself, which was manned by Union sentries. The magazine and Parrott gun platforms were made of stone - the only stone used in the fort. Shortly before the attack on the fort, the Union militia leader fled to the safety of the fort. On hearing of the attack, the black slaves and soldiers working on extending the fort also tried to seek that sanctuary - but the officer ordered them to head to Frankfort instead. The Confederates did not take any black Union soldiers, they killed them all, so he may have been concerned for them in case the fort fell ... on the other hand, the Confederates had passed a law ordering the execution of any white officer captured who was in charge of a "black" unit, so he may have been concerned for his own skin. In contrast, one of those defending the fort during the attack was the state governor - the only time a Kentucky governor has had to personally defend the state capital in combat. While several union soldiers were injured in the attack, none were killed. Only a few union soldiers died in Frankfort during the war ... mostly from disease, tho' one drowned when he fell off a bridge he was guarding and another was shot by local when he got involved with a lady's "honour" - presumably by a jealous husband or father.
The Union encampment was a lot more luxurious than the Confederate one. Lots of tents, a kitchen, plenty of "liberated" furniture and a "Sutler's Store", stores run by enterprising merchants who followed the army around, supplying non-regulation luxuries and also making a fortune. They were detested by the soldiers, but despite that, they did a roaring business. Despite the scenes in civil war movies, Union soldiers actually lived outside of the forts except in emergencies, either in tents or log cabins, depending on the time of the year (and rank). There was even a barracks building, but it's location is now unknown.
On the 26th there were activities at the Old State Capitol in the morning. Bookstalls hocking off books on the civil war as well as lectures on the war. I sat in on one which was actually more about a civil war movie, "Gettysburg". The talk was given by one of the actors, Patrick Falci, who was also the movie historian, who'se task it was to research the battle and also those who were being portrayed in the movie. There was quite a bit of history in the talk. After the talk it was outside for a fashion show - the sort of clothing that the citizens of Frankfort were wearing during the civil war, both rich and poor, ladies, gentlemen, children and soldiers. While there was quite a sizeable crowd at the seminar, there was a distressingly small crowd at the fashion show - most of the audience consisted of a group of Union soldiers on one side and a group of Confederates on the other. Carefully ignoring each other. :)
Hiked back up the hill to the fort (20 min. walk) for the official opening ceremonies by the mayor. Quite a crowd there, about the only thing I could pick up was the firing of a Parrott gun, twice. There was a Union civil war ear band marching and playing as well as Union soldiers on sentry duty and patrolling the fort. I didn't envy them in their thick woollen clothing in the hot and humid weather.
11th July, 1999: Harrodsburg,
Went down to Harrodsburg for the day for another "history" trip. Harrodsburg was founded in 1774 and was the first white settlement in Kentucky - actually the first west of the Alleghenies in Virginia.
First stop was the Old Mud Meeting House. Despite the big write-ups in all the travel brochures and guides, the only signpost for the place was a historic marker at the base of a driveway that vanished into the trees thru' a locked gate. The road itself was a dead end and had a sign saying "road closed: residents only". Ended up spending about 3/4's an hour driving around trying to find the place - mind you, it was a pleasant drive, thru' rolling farmland, with lots of dry-stone fences, in varying states of repair, and narrow, windy country roads. The Meeting House, which is actually a church, is in a nice shaded glen, full of bird calls, insects buzzing and the sound of the breeze blowing thru' the trees. No sound or sign of modern man - it could almost have been 200 years ago .. the church was built in 1800 and is possibly the oldest in the state.
Next to the church there's a pioneer cemetery full of crude gravestones, most of which were unshaped rocks lacking any sign of an inscription, assuming they ever had any. About 1/3rd of the gravestones were shaped and the earliest original inscription was dated 1820, the most recent 1901 ... a new marker is dated 1791, no doubt laid down by a descendent and possibly one of the oldest in the cemetery. A lot of the stones that may once had inscriptions were so badly eroded (they were limestone) that most were no longer legible. Somehow, tho', that sign of the hand of time seems to fit in with the atmosphere. One mystery in the cemetery was two adjacent tombstones, both bearing the same unusual name, Cornelius O. van Arsdall ... both describe the deceased as a revolutionary war hero, but with different dates of death.
The church itself is made out of mud, with walls 14ft high. A wooden beam frame with the gaps filled with a mix of mud and straw and full of wasp nests. Couldn't see inside, alas, the windows were too high up. Outside there's a storage shed (possibly once the rectory?) and an outhouse, both wooden and dating to the 1800's. The church was originally Dutch Reformed, but became a presbyterian church in 1816.
Next stop was Beaumont Inn, built in 1845. Originally a finishing school for upper class ladies, providing "art, eloqution, music and the literary arts" for over 70 years - tho' the school started in 1830. An imposing two story brick building with six Ionic columns out front. Inside it was pretty ritzy - even the toilets had marble floors and fireplaces! It's now an inn and their boast is that they have provided four generations of some of the best of "old style" Southern hospitality. The owner who converted the school into an inn was actually a graduate. Prior to the school there was a health spa on the site, Greenville Springs, dating back to 1806. Next was Clay Hill, a big red brick house with tall, white corinthian columns and with a huge lawn out the front. The original residence was built in 1795, tho' the present appearance owes more to reconstruction's in 1812 and again in 1850 when the large portico was added. Clay Hill was the home of Beriah Magoffin Jr, the governor of Kentucky during the civil war (his father built the house).
Then it was onto Harrodsburg proper and a walk around the downtown area. The catholic church office was built in 1795, originally a hat factory, it's the oldest building in Harrodsburg. A nice looking 1893 stone church was recently demolished for a characterless brick eyesore. Pity. Just down from the office is the old gaol ... actually two buildings, the original gaol and gaoler's residence built by slave labour in 1830 and is for sale. It's walls are 24" thick, floors & ceilings are 14" thick. Behind was a rather grim looking building that was used as the county gaol from 1877 to 1983, now full of dust, peeling paint and lots of iron bars - and no doubt lots of misery and unhappy memories.
Morgan Row was built in 1807, the first "row house" built in Kentucky. Row houses are a traditional English street plan where a row of homes and/or businesses shared common walls - a common sight in innercity areas in Australia. The row was built by Squire Morgan and originally included a tavern. It's now home to the County Historical Society and an insurance company. St Philip's Episcopal Church is a traditional English-looking gothic-revival style church built in 1860 on a side of a hill, which makes for some unusual lines in it's architecture.
The present Mercer County Courthouse was built in 1928, the fifth on the site - given the record of courthouses in the USA, I daresay most of 'em burnt down. Harrodsburg was the "capital" of the county of Kentucky from 1774 to 1780 when the county was split into three: Lincoln, Jefferson and Fayette Counties. Ever since 1780 it's been a county seat making it the oldest seat of government in Kentucky. Naturally that means lots of firsts, not just the first white settlement in the state, the first crops grown, the first church, the first doctor, the first school and the first census. Mercer county was named after Hugh Mercer, a revolutionary war hero who met a rather unpleasant end - he was bayoneted to death by a bunch of British Hessian soldiers. Then walked up and down the main street looking at all the old buildings, built in victorian style, dating mostly from the mid to late 1800's. There was a small park with a cascading waterfall, alas the falls were dry and the park locked.
The biggest attraction of Harrodsburg is the reconstruction of Fort Harrod, the original settlement. Outside the fort there's a small graveyard, the oldest in the US west of the Alleghenies, with some 480 plus gravestones, virtually all of which were rough, uncut and unmarked chunks of rock. Some were roughly shaped, but it's impossible to tell if any once contained any inscriptions. According to the sign, the oldest was 1775.
The fort itself is a replica .. it took 11 men three months to build (one of them is still alive, at the age of 93). It was dedicated in 1934 by then president Roosevelt and while there I heard an old lady comment that she was in the crowd - some 75,000 showed up. The original fort was built in 1774 at "The Big Spring". Those at the fort were recalled to the east to fight in a revolutionary war battle and returned in 1775 when they rebuilt the fort on a nearby hill. After the fort was abandoned it was used as a school and then a gaol before the land beneath it was dug up as a quarry in the 1890's. The hole has since been refilled, tho' the hill now only lives on in the history books, and is now the "proud" location of a car park. Only the graveyard remains. The fort was manned at all times, however the residents of "Harrodstown" only took shelter in the fort during Indian attacks.
The fort is a square wooden palisade, made of 12" thick logs, roughly trimmed, sharpened at one end and pounded into the ground so that the sharp ends point to the heavens. Incorporated into the walls are seven cabins and in three of the corners there are two-story watchtowers made of wooden logs and dried mud (well originally, the replica actually has mud-coloured cement). Inside there's a school house and a blacksmith shop. While the cabins originally would have been living quarters, they are now mostly devoted to pioneer crafts - candle making, weaving, tin-smithing and the like. A little anachronism since such there would not have been people who professionally performed those roles on the frontier, only in the more settled areas. Frontier folk were self-sufficient - wot they couldn't make themselves, they bought from pedlars who travelled from the east. Still, this does allow for the demonstration of pioneer crafts and in the first cabin I entered there was a lady demonstrating rug-making on a loom. Inside there was one obvious difference between a frontier fort-cabin and a pioneer cabin - the former has windows only facing the enclosed area, with small "rifle holes" in the outside walls. I guess I was there on a slow day .. normally there are lots of actors, but today there was just the one.
Inside the enclosure there was an animal shelter with a few animals, a gunpowder room and a spring. The spring was fake, but the original fort was built around one - tho' it provided far from clean water, from the start it was polluted with human and animal wastes! The gunpowder was stored in an underground bunker, something like a root cellar. As a bit of trivia, gunpowder was transported in wooden barrels with wooden hoops, rather than the usual metal ones - so as to prevent any sparks which might cause an undesired accident. Strangely enuf, the gunpowder store was only two metres from the blacksmith's workshop - I'd've thought that would have been a more likely source of sparks, tho' more likely if there was one originally, it was nowhere near the gunpowder store!
Another block house contained a woodworking shop and a commons room on the ground floor, the latter dimly lit and containing a long table, barrels of wine and the like. Upstairs was a small display done out as the HQ of General Rogers Clark, the Kentucky explorer who was based at Ft Harrod for a time. It was very simple, rough and primitive. Nice view from the inside window tho', overlooking the roofs of several cabins with moss covered shingle roofs. Clark was based at Fort Harrod for some time and while there he made plans which secured the Northwest Territory. Clark also built the first gaol in Kentucky at the fort.
There was a row of log cabins containing beds, fireplaces with cooking tools and a selection of things often found in frontier homes - spinning wheels, candle moulds, guns, farming tools and so forth. In the centre of the compound there was a very primitive log building which was the schoolhouse. The original was operated from 1776 on by Mrs Coomes. It had a dirt floor, slab benches, rough looking fireplace and uncaulked walls (the only building in the original fort that had unchinked walls) ... in winter it must've been freezing inside with the wind easily getting thru' the gaps .. of course, in summer there'd be a lot of ventilation so p'haps there was no school in winter, the reverse of what's the case now. There were also wooden paddles with the letters burnt onto them - slates or paper would have been unavailable to the school, so the kids would have had to learn their letters by reading them. 'Tis no surprise that the ability to write was much rarer than that of reading. Then again, it was the same in early Australia.
Just outside the fort there's the Mansion Museum, built in 1813. Inside there's the Lincoln Room, full of stuff on Lincoln including paintings, documents, foto's, newspaper clippings, statues, letters and so forth. On the opposite side of the entrance foyer is the Confederate Room containing more foto's, busts, paintings, civil war weapons, books, a flag and so forth. The two rooms dedicated to the two presidents of the civil war: the Confederate's Jefferson Davis and the Union's Abraham Lincoln, both born in Kentucky.
The remainder of the museum was a collection of Kentucky history, with each room devoted to a different aspect of life. There was the "document room" (the names are all mine) full of foto's, copies and originals of old documents, deeds, diaries and the like. There's also a display on the opening of the replica fort. The "Indian room" contains a collection of Indian artefacts such as arrowheads, axeheads, bowls and clothing. Next is the "home room" with stuff found in pioneer homes, candle moulds, pots and the like. There's also a collection of pre-electric sowing machines. The "music room" contains, naturally enuf, a range of musical instruments such as violins and other stringed instruments, an organ and a bunch of music-boxes or various designs. There's even two wreaths made of human hair - which was a craze in the mid 1800's. Morbid! The "weapon's room" was self-explanatory, with lots of guns, pistols, swords, powder horns from the 1700's and 1800's. Even a couple of blunderbuss'. The "clothing room" had clothes of both children and adults plus other things like watches, jewellery, a dresser and a secretary full of books, walking canes, lacework and so forth. The "dining room" naturally enuf contained a table, silverware (including candle holders), cabinets of china, a sugar chest and flagons.
Next door to the museum was a small building devoted to the pioneer doctors and dentists of 18th century Kentucky - just 27 doctors before 1800. There were foto's, surgical instruments, a dentists chair, travelling pharmacy and other less appealing things such as tools for bleeding and saws for amputations.
Also in the park is the Lincoln Marriage Temple. A brick building that looks like a church, but inside contains the log cabin in which Abraham Lincoln's father grew up in (near Springfield) and got married to Nancy Hanks. A replica now stands on the actual site. The minister who performed the marriage was from Harrodsburg, hence the cabin finding it's final home there. In appearance and atmosphere it's a lot like the cabin at the Abraham Lincoln Shrine, which is also enclosed in a larger building. Unlike the other cabin which was empty, this one contained some simple furnishings such as a bed. I have to admit that as religious as Lincoln was, I suspect he might be more than a tad saddened to find the cabin where his parents married being called a temple. Preserving the cabin is one thing, but to call it a temple is quite a different matter methinks.
After the fort did some more walking around Harrodsburg, looking at some of the old and fancy homes. The Daniel Curry house (1857) had an unusual colour scheme and was built in the gothic revival style, especially the fretwork and the windows. Courtview (1823) and the Matherly-Armstrong house (1850) are both built in the Greek revival style and are both for sale. The look of the Passmore Hotel (1843) has been destroyed - the current owner, the local newspaper, has torn out the front corner and replaced it with glass. Still, the Passmore house (1843) looks neat. Cardwellton is a rather plain looking wooden building which was built in 1820 around a log cabin which was built before 1786 when Harrodsburg was first surveyed. Woodslawn is a flemish style house built in 1810 on the site of a previous log cabin which had been sacked and burnt by Indians. It has stayed in the same family for six generations. Then off to College Street to look at a bunch of fancy Greek revival style mansions, with lots of columns and large gardens. The street was named after Bacon College (1839) which latter moved to Lexington, becoming the University of Kentucky. Some of the mansions include The Maples (1856), Rykon (1835), Forest Pillars (1820's), Doricham (1830's) and Diamond Point (1840's), all built in Greek revival style.
14th July, 1999: Louisville,
Back to Louisville for some more sightseeing. Saw White Hall, a mansion-museum, went for a ride on the Belle of Louisville, a paddle steamer and finished the day with a walk around the Riverwalk Park.
White Hall is an imposing, two-story white mansion, with six large columns out front. The house is surrounded by thick trees, loud with the sounds of colourful birds and noisy circadas. The sight, if not all the sounds, of the surrounding city masked out. The mansion was built in 1855 on a 20 acre farm, tho' the present house is very different from the original, which was a simple one story affair. It was extensively remodelled in 1909 when it was converted into a plantation-style home, incorporating the original house. It was the 1909 remodelling that gave the house its name. Inside it's very spacious, with the ceilings 14ft high on the ground floor. Lots of colourful wallpaper and a red-carpeted stairway going up to the next floor. The house has had lots of different owners, the last dying in 1992 when it was donated to the Louisville Historic Homes Foundation. Most of the furnishings were collected by the last owner, who travelled all over the US searching for stuff to put in his house. At the time of his death the house was packed with furnishings, most of which were auctioned off - the plan was to restore the house with pieces from the 1850's and earlier. The entrance foyer has a lovely hardwood floor with inlaid patterns, a marble fireplace with windows above, lots of fancy mirrors and a 1760's English grandfather clock with ships up the top that rock back and forwards with the pendulum and the clock also gives the date .. commonplace these days, but almost unheard of back then.
The Red Parlour was originally the library. Now it's furnished with silver candelabra on the fireplace mantle - they were originally altar pieces. There's also a collection of beautiful tables, chairs, lamps, paintings and the like. One thing that stands this museum house apart from all others I've been to is that not only are you allowed to touch the furnishings and other contents, you are actually encouraged to do so - there are no roped off areas. The last owner (who deeded the house to the Foundation) so specified in the deed. Something I can appreciate since I guess I'm a tactile person and I like to not only look but also feel.
The main parlour is actually a double room and has a collection of beautiful and unusual pieces such as a chest of drawers which, for lack of a better description, looks like it's pregnant, bulging in the middle, both at the front and on the sides. The cream and dark brown colour scheme is quite appealing. The couches and chairs are Louis XV style. In the Drawing Room, to the side, is an elaborate set of shelves with intricate wood carvings made of rosewood, called a "etagere", which is french for "stand with open shelves or a whatnot" - honest, that's what the dictionary says. It had a mirror at the back and the shelves were full of lovely Italian ceramic figurines.
The dining room is done out in Empire style with silver candlesticks, silverware, paintings and an ornate fireplace mantle. The "butler's pantry" leads to a modern kitchen (the house hosts weddings and other receptions) and it was in the "pantry" that the last owner ate his meals.
Then it was upstairs via the staircase in the entrance foyer which has leaded crystal balls on the handrails. The upper floor has ceilings "only" 10ft high but the floor still looks spacious. The upstairs floor contains mainly bedrooms - those getting married at White Hall can stay overnite in one of the bedrooms. Neat! Each bedroom is full of antiques and olde style southern four-poster beds. In the first bedroom there's a wig dresser where the well dressed gentleman kept his wigs (I guess the ladies didn't have wigs back then?). There's also an old travel chest that was found in the attic and which dates to the 1850's. Inside there were 1850's newspapers and two Confederate army hospital sheets (the house was used as a field hospital during the civil war). Sadly, one of the couples who got married and stayed the night stole one of the sheets. Naturally they denied it afterwards.
The second bedroom has an 1840's bed, carved chairs and paintings of Confederate leaders. It was here that the last owner slept. The third bedroom has a delightful bed that was found in a barn of all places and lovingly restored. Looking outside the front window, the view overlooks the tops of the tall columns at the front of the house - the tops of the columns are covered with nails in an attempt to stop the birds roosting there. Not entirely successfully, I'm told. There's a dressing table with a mirror and a carved bust (part of the dresser) of Thomas Jefferson - it was a popular fashion back in the mid 1800's to carve busts etc of famous people into the furniture. Out the back window can be seen the original carriage house (now a private residence) as well as two acres of formal and terrace gardens - the estate now covers 10 acres.
There's a boardroom with dark wood sideboard which opens up as a secretary (a kind of desk). On top is a piece of limestone statuary. There's also a pair of very elaborate and colourful Jacobian chairs. The forth bedroom is done out in French Empire style with a couch rather than a bed. There's also a set of 1800's replicas of the chairs Napoleon had in his study just after his Egyptian campaign, with Egyptian motifs.
After White Hall we headed to the Riverfront area. During the 1800's and early 1900's Louisville was a thriving river port, in fact that's why the city was originally founded. There are several ships offering tours along the Ohio River. The most famous of these is the Belle of Louisville, built in 1914, and originally named the Idlewind (then the Avalon). It's the oldest operating paddle steamer in the Mississippi River system (the Ohio flows into the Mississippi) and one of only six still in service in the USA. The "Belle" is the most widely travelled river steamer ever to ply the US' rivers, but it's had chequered past ... she spent 15 years as a river tramp before being sold for scrap in 1963, but it was bought by Jefferson County (that is, the city of Louisville), restored and embarked on a more genteel life. A few years ago the ship was sunk at its dock during the night by a former employee, but it was soon restored to its former glory and was back in service in 1998.
Boarding began after we were serenaded by a steam-powered organ (a calliope) on the steamer. The first five minutes or so were "cute", tho' it went on for an hour, which got a tad annoying. The cruise headed upriver (downriver is a series of locks which bypass the Falls of the Ohio), passing by downtown Louisville and going under four bridges, the oldest a railway bridge built in the 1890's (and now abandoned) and the newest built in the 1960's (but which looks the oldest!). We passed (on the Indiana side) a huge barge shipyard, one of the largest in the USA, which was established in the 1830's and saw its peak during WWII when it produced landing craft. As we cruised by a new barge was "christened", slamming down the tracks into the water, sending up huge splashes of water. We passed thru' suburban Louisville, full of ritzy riverfront properties. The Water Tower, with a marker showing the high point of the 1937 flood - the worst in recorded history. Riverworks upstream have so far prevented a repeat of that flood. Midpoint was an hour into the cruise, just near Six Mile Island (a nature preserve). On the way back we were treated to some very photogenic views of downtown Louisville.
After the ride went for a walk along the Riverwalk Park. At one spot there's heaps of fountains, cascades and waterfalls stretching for several hundred metres. The park was opened in 1998 at a cost of some $US40 million, mostly donations. In addition to the fountains there's extensive lawns, gardens, play areas and lots of waterfront scenery. There's also a scenic overlook where you can look up and down the river and back over the city.
22nd July, 1999: Switzer Bridge,
Franklin County, Kentucky
A "whistle stop" sightseeing trip today - went to check out the restored Switzer Bridge which is about a 20 minute drive from Frankfort, along narrow and winding country roads.
Nestled in the midst of neglected farmland is a tiny hamlet, Switzer, with just a few homes and a few abandoned shops. It's one claim to fame is the Switzer Covered Bridge which spans the North Elkhorn Creek, which is more a river than a creek. Just downstream there's a rough, stone weir, creating a pond of rather green looking water .. evidently containing some fish since there were some locals there fishing.
A brief explanation for those who don't know what a covered bridge is: covered bridges consist of a conventional wooden bridge, spanning a creek or such like, but with the addition of two walls and a roof. Kinda like a long hallway with open ends, but one which was designed to allow the passage of carts and wagons. Some even have small holes or windows along the sides so one can look up or down river. The purpose of the covered part was to provide shelter during storms - especially since bridges are usually much more exposed than the trails leading to and from them.
The bridge was washed away in the flood of '97, but was rebuilt and recently rededicated early this year. I visited the site in July '97 and all that was left was the remains of the bridge scattered downstream along the creek banks. Now it's restored to much as it would have appeared in it's early years. Such wood that they could recycle was used in the reconstruction, but sadly only a small fraction. Most of the bridge is made of a fresh golden-yellow timber, and in the heat of a hot summer's day, the area inside the bridge is full of the strong scent of wood oil and sawdust. It's less than a year old and already the graffiti artists have been at work, tho' thankfully only a tiny fraction of what can be found on those bridges that have survived intact to today.
Perhaps an accident, or perhaps reflecting the original design, but looking down the "hall", one cannot but notice the lack of straight lines. The most obvious "out of plum" is the quite noticeable lean of the top of the covered bridge (the "roof") downstream by a good 10 degrees at least. Given how solidly they built the bridge, I don't think it's started to lean since they rebuilt it.
At either end are tall limestone support pillars and driveways leading to the bridge. The bridge itself spans 120ft and is 11ft wide and was originally built in 1855, one of over 400 that existed in Kentucky, tho' less than a dozen survive.
14th August, 1999: Paris and
Bourbon County, Kentucky
Time for another history sightseeing trip. This time toured some of the sights in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Lots of scenic driving along country roads, but sadly there were plenty of signs of the drought - yellowed grass, trees turning their autumn colours months early and the charred remains of spot fires. Bourbon County was named after the royal French family in honour of their aid during the Revolutionary War. Paris, the county seat, once known as Hopewell, was renamed for the same reason. Bourbon County was one of the original nine counties of Virginia that formed the state of Kentucky in 1792.
Johnston's Inn operated as a tavern from 1796-1812, serving stage coach and horse-back travellers on the main road between Lexington and Maysville. Despite the travel brochures boasting of the neat outside view, the only way to get those views was to walk past a "no trespassing" sign. There was a previous tavern on the site in 1784 and possibly earlier.
"Stone Castle", also known as the Jacob Spears House was another "outside view" site, but in this case one could clearly see the house from the roadside. T'was a two story limestone building, built in 1788, with the ubiquitous Southern-style columns out front, an upstairs balcony of lattice-work wood above the door. Inside each of the windows could be seen candles surrounded by the period style figure-8 glass "thingies" that stopped the wind blowing the candles out. Outside there were dry-laid limestone fences, the smell of hay and the ruins of an old limestone warehouse, partially engulfed with vegetation. It was here that Spears made his whiskey and named it Bourbon, the first to use that name.
Main St., Paris, was a mess - in the process of being dug up so they could put the phone and power lines underground. The street was lined with Victorian style buildings, with lots of construction going on, not just the roadwork's. The courthouse is an impressive looking structure, said to be one of the most beautiful in the state. The first courthouse was built on the site in 1878, the present one dates to 1905, a large sandstone building sitting on a granite base. Tall stone columns at the front supporting a portico with French-style balustrades along the edge of the roof, lots of stone carvings and at the top a clocktower, capped with a green copper dome. Inside the foyer there's marble walls and staircase, a large fireplace and a mosaic floor. Victorian style decor.
Duncan's Tavern was built in 1788 and restored in 1940 by the "Daughter's of the American Revolution" (DAR) in memory of Mary Desha, one of the four founders of the DAR and a Kentuckian. The tavern was a three story limestone building with white windows and dark green shutters. Opposite the tavern was the home of William McGuffey, a teacher who established a school in Paris and taught there from 1823-1826 before moving elsewhere. His school/home is in the middle of being restored. Missed the morning tour of the tavern, so headed off to the next stop.
The Old Cane Ridge Meeting House (church) is an eight mile drive east of Paris along a country road travelling thru' fields of tobacco and corn along with herds of cattle; a mix of tiny farms and large. The church is the original building, built on the site in 1791. The area was surveyed by Daniel Boone who named the area Cane Ridge. It's still a consecrated church, tho' one without a congregation - it plays host to weddings and special services .. presumably quite a few of them since there are three clergy attached to the church, one of whom doubled as a tourguide while I was there (tho' I dunno if that's a normal occurrence). The church originally had a dirt floor, unchinked log walls and rough "pews" made from logs cut in half and mounted on legs. There were no windows since the church was built at a time where the frontier was very unsettled ... the walls were left unchinked so that if they were attacked, the congregation could defend themselves by firing their guns thru' the chinks in the wall. It wasn't so much Indians that they feared, but rather other "whites" - at the time only 5% of people were connected with a church and the frontier was a wild place. They worshipped with their guns handy. When things became more settled, the walls were chinked, the floor planked and windows cut into the walls and wooden shutters installed.
The church is large, two story's tall (plus an attic), and some 50ft by 30ft in area - thought to be the largest single-room "log cabin" style building in North America. The upper floor was originally the slave gallery and because of fears of attack, there were no stairs or ladders to the upper floor .. instead there was a "peg ladder", a series of pegs hammered into the outside wall, up which one would climb. Not an easy thing to do, especially in bad weather. Inside, the church is rough hewn - it's obvious that it was built in frontier times - tho' there were some attempts to spruce things up ... some carvings in the woodwork, the vertical support beams were carved in an octagonal shape, as too were the spindles in the gallery rail. The gallery was originally built for the slaves, but early in its history the church became an abolitionist, in fact one of the first in the country. By 1829 the congregation numbered 200 and they were fully integrated. The gallery was no longer needed so it was removed and bought by a farmer who used it to make a hayloft in his barn. The floor beams are thick, 16" on each side. No wonder the place still stands. In the mid 1800's the inside walls were plastered over and the outside covered with white painted wood siding so that the church looked like any other small country church. The church is slightly cross-shaped, tho' not out of any religious tradition .. the two short side wings (only a few feet deep) were built for structural reasons - a straight-walled log cabin of that size would have soon collapsed under its own weight. There's an 1880 pump organ, the 1839 pews and a piano that dates to before 1880.
Regular services stopped in 1921, tho' special services, funerals, weddings and the like continued (in fact still continue today). In 1932 the church was restored as close as possible to how it was in the 1820's - the windows remained, as did the plank floor. Thanks to diaries and oral tales, they were able to get a pretty good idea of the original appearance. The gallery was found and donated back to the church. When reinstalled it fitted in perfectly - in over 140 years, the foundations had not shifted at all. Shortly after the gallery was installed, the barn which had been its home for so long burnt down. When they removed the siding to expose the original wood, it started to deteoriate. All efforts to preserve the wood failed, so they built a stone shell around the church in the mid 1950's which stopped the deteoriation.
In addition to being an old church and notable for it's architecture, the church is famous for it's history. It was the site of the Great Revival in 1801 and the birthplace of a denomination which now spans the world. During the revival week in August, 1801, between 20-30,000 people descended on the tiny community. This was at a time when the area was still on the frontier and sparsely populated. Like other revivals, there were all the strange "charismatic" manifestations .. people falling down, uncontrollably shaking, making animal noises and so forth. Something of a shock given that there were only conservative baptists, presbyterians and methodists in the area at the time. The revival only ended when the local supplies of food and grass (for the horses etc) ran out .. and even then, a lot was shipped in. At the time Cane Ridge was part of the presbyterian church. Alarmed at all this talk of "bizarre behaviour", the pastor and his flock were told to recant, they refused and in 1804 struck out on their own. They were soon joined by other local churches who'd had similar trouble with their denominations. They banded together and formed the Church of Christ .. also known as the Disciples of Christ.
Next to the church was a museum that focused on the history of the church and it's founder, Barton Stone (1772-1844). There's bibles, books, drawings, altar silverware, letters and so forth. There was also a collection of tools and household wares from pioneer days - quite well laid out. Outside there's a small cemetery, which includes the grave of Rev. Stone.
Checked out the Garden Club of Kentucky HQ which is in the Clay Wallis House (1851). One would think they'd have nice gardens. Maybe once, but it's gone to seed and weed now. Walked a bit thru' downtown Paris. The First Christian Church (1902) has quite unusual architecture. Passed by an antique shop with a sign saying "Closed today due to tearing down building. Reopen next friday." Hard to operate the shop with the building torn down, tho' obviously the building in question must have been elsewhere.
Then time for the tour of Duncan's Tavern and the adjoining Anne Duncan House. In the tavern foyer is an amusing little sign saying "No thieves, fakirs, rogues or tinkers. No skulking, loafers or flea-bitten tramps." They had a way with words back then. The tavern was built by Major Joseph Duncan in the belief that Paris would become the state capital. Inside it doesn't look like a tavern, more like a house instead .. while there have been a lot of changes since then, it's been restored close to the original appearance. As the amusing sign at the front suggested, the tavern was not for the "common man", it was meant for the upper class, professionals, the wealthy, politicians and the like. It's the oldest standing tavern in the state.
Duncan was rich, so he didn't need the customers. After he died his wife operated the tavern for a few years before leasing it out. It was operated as a tavern until 1829 when it was sold at auction. After that there were many owners and different uses until the 1920's when the city assumed it 'cuz of unpaid taxes. They then used it as public housing .. really packed them in and by 1940 the place had been trashed and was earmarked for demolition. It was acquired by the DAR who then restored it, furnishing it with donated stuff, nothing later than 1830.
The "Office" has an old-style safe ... wouldn't slow a thief today, tho' there was a secret opening that lead to the cellar, thru' which valuables could be dropped. During the 1820's it was used as a bar, but now restored to it's original use. The Sitting Room has a secretary full of books, couches, urns, chairs etc. There's also a painting that looks a lot like the tour guide (and not the only such painting) ... not that she was that old, but possibly an ancestor.
There's the chair of Kentucky's governor, which was originally in the state Capitol - the second governor souveniered it when he left office. In that theme there's a room dedicated to the state's first governor (Isaac Shelby) and furnished with a lot of his stuff donated by his descendants. The Dining Room and ladies Sitting rooms. Wing-back chairs, chests, mirrors, cupboards, mirrors and oil paintings.
The leasee had numerous alterations made including a bar on the ground floor and advertised for customers. He also enclosed the original rear porches in the 1820's, one of which then became the Dining Room, containing a long table, valued at $US40,000 and able to seat 24. Also a sugar chest, silver coffee urn, mirrors, chests, silverware and several oil paintings.
Upstairs are the bedrooms. Originally costing just 25 cents a night, tho' extra for clean sheets .. which were only rarely changed - understandable given that guests always slept in their clothes, clean or not. Of course, unless you paid yet extra, you would likely end up sharing you bed with another guest and likely others would sleep on the floor. If another guest desired to sleep on a bed, the management placed a wooden board down the centre. All four of the bedrooms were furnished in much the same way with period furniture, tho' there was some variation. Some of the bed quilts were over 200 years old. There was a matching toiletry set: chamberpot, wash basin, urn and covered dishes for soap, combs and the like. A wig cabinet - for the men. The well dressed man was never without his wig, other than when he was in bed.
The third floor is a museum of donated odds'n'ends. It was originally the ballroom, tho' when the building was used as a tenement, it was subdivided into several rooms. It was here that Kentucky's first play was performed (1808). There was a collection of china, another of clothing, stacks of documentation, tools, household utensils and much more. Oh, and a very creaky floor. A pair of ladies rocking chairs called "comb-back chairs" - used by ladies to dry their hair, which they let hang down the back of the chair. Like the sheets, ladies rarely washed their hair ... or cut it for that matter.
Back downstairs and thru' a narrow doorway into the Anne Duncan house ... built by Anne in 1804 after her husband had died. It wasn't until long after her death that it was joined up to what was the tavern. Originally a log cabin, it's since been resurfaced to match the tavern. Relatively simple furnishings, tho' two things were worthy of note, a huge wooden panelled wall that was donated to the DAR and lovingly moved and installed in the house. made of cherry wood, it has a rich and deep red-brown colour. There's also a fancy looking, gold coloured candelabra, under the light of which was signed the Declaration of Independence.
The area also boasts other attractions which I didn't get the chance to see such as the Colville Covered Bridge (1877) in nearby Millersburg, the Hopewell Museum in Paris, containing a collection of art and covering the history of Bourbon County and Kentucky. Nearby Cynthania boasts a civil war battlesite and Confederate cemetery, Indian Creek Church, the oldest west of Virginia in continuous use and the original 1790 log cabin courthouse - the present one was built in 1853. Carlisle is home to Daniel Boone's last home in Kentucky (1795-1799), a dungeon and a historical district with over 350 buildings on the National Register. Winchester, to the south, is home to the Old Stone Meeting House, the first church established west of Virginia - tho' I've heard that claim before a few times - and where Daniel Boone worshipped. Bourbon County is also home to a lot of thoroughbred horse farms and was the birthplace of Secretariat, considered by some to have been the USA's finest racehorse ... tho' I no judge of that.
15th August, 1999: Salato Wildlife
Centre, Frankfort, Kentucky
Believe it or but there are still a few places in Frankfort I've yet to see. One of them got crossed off the list today. The "Salato Wildlife Education Centre". It's run by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, so it's not just about the environment and conservation, but also fishing and also the favourite game animals hereabouts. That mixture of goals goes a long way to explaining the contrasts that one sees ... in one spot there's a display on the needs of conservation, preservation of wetlands and the like, yet elsewhere there's stuffed animals.
Walking in the entrance foyer, there's a host of stuffed birds hanging from the ceiling like some kind of "nature mobiles". Owls, raptors, songbirds and the like, along with a stuffed bull elk, tho' he was standing on the floor. There's also a display of Indian artefacts and their life "before Boone", that is, before the Europeans arrived. Further on there's a display on the successful attempt to reintroduce the wild turkey across the USA .. the bird is now found in most states. Rather tastelessly, but in nature with the Centre, there's also a collection of sundry turkey parts, wings, feathers and a claw. There's a bunch of aquariums - with *live* fish, some of a pretty decent size. There was a tank full of warm water fish, another of cold water fish and a third with snapping turtles. The Alligator Snapping Turtle looks almost as nasty as it's namesake and apparently it has a similar temperament .. it'll eat anything it can get it's jaws around. Across from the tanks, there's a display of record fish catches in Kentucky - including one 100lb monster catfish! I'd hate to meet that one while out for a swim. Loch Ness Monster anyone? *grin* A collection of venomous snakes found in the state - just three, the Copperhead, the Cottonmouth and a rattlesnake. There's also two toy snakes outside the tank, no doubt to scare and/or amuse the kiddies.
There's a "forest life" recreation with assorted plantlife, a small creek with a waterfall and a collection of animals - a deer, squirrel, birds, a racoon, snakes, frogs, a turtle, lizards and more. A number of the animals had robotic tails that moved or twitched periodically and some of the butterflies had wings that opened and closed. Apart from the stillness of the critters and the likely higher than usual concentration of noticeable wildlife, it was quite realistic looking. Exhibits on the history of wildlife management in the state, an outside wetlands area viewed thru' a glass window - lots of insects and several birds including a pretty blue hummingbird. Right next to that there was a collection of antlers. There were four tanks of frogs and toads, tho' one was empty and had nasty looking water ... I suspect the Bullfrog had come to some unfortunate end. Perhaps it'll be stuffed and mounted too? One thing I learnt - the difference between frogs and toads. Toads are actually a class of frogs which have dryer skin, so allowing them to last longer away from water. Frogs, on the other, ahh, paw, have slimy skin. There was a beehive with glass walls. Couldn't see the queen bee, but did see a few ring-ins .. somehow some moths had gotten in and have avoided becoming "bee lunch".
Then it was outside and onto the nature trail. The outside part of the centre was divided into different areas representing some of the different environments found in Kentucky. The first was the Eastern Kentucky Forest zone. Still under "construction", so not all that much to see. Next was the grasslands. In a cage that's open to the sky there were two Bald Eagles - they can't fly, which is why they remain at the Centre and in an roofless cage. Lots of colourful wildflowers - reds, yellows, blues, whites, purples, oranges, pinks & more. The sounds of insects and birds, plus the occasional sight of them too. Several enclosures of wild turkey's and deer and one with a herd of bison (buffalo). The final section was a wetlands, called the "Dragonfly Marsh", and it was indeed full of those colourful insects. Thanks to the drought, the water in the marsh had dropped quite a bit, but that doesn't seem to have bothered the dragonflies all that much. Lots of different coloured dragonflies, blues, golds, reds, purples, whites, oranges and so forth. There was one striking looking specimen which had black and orange squares at the end of each of its wings, the rest of the wing being transparent. Looked a lot like semaphore flags! Another had wings of a delicate shade of light blue with black trim.
12th September, 1999: Kentucky
History Centre - Part 1
Earlier in the year I visited the Kentucky Historical Centre with it's museum of Kentuckian history. At the time I only managed to get half-way thru' the museum before closing time arrived.
With the opening festivities over, the museum had started up oral retellings in the museum itself. One was of a pioneer man and the other of a farmwife during the depression era. Arrived just in time to catch the former. Daniel Trabue was born in 1757 and was one of the original white explorers of Kentucky in 1775 with Clark and co. His story started as an excitable young man on that early expedition, dressed in pioneer costume. He told of his time in the exploration party and his early life in Kentucky. Attacks on and by Indians including the attack on Fort Boonesboro in 1780. He mentioned a white child who'd been captured and his reunion with his father many years latter .. by which time he'd adopted Indian ways, taken an Indian wife and had even become a leader. Despite attempts to get him back into "white" society, he eventually returned to live with the Indians. By the end of his spiel, he was telling stories from his latter years and had taken on the appearance of an old man. Trabue was a typical frontiersman who, despite popular myth, did not see the Indian's as savages but rather as military opponents. It was only in latter generations that the "white" American's came to view them as savages.
Then headed back to where I'd stopped on my last visit to the museum. The Civil War years. Slavery and its issues - the pro-slavery faction, abolitionists and emancapationists. Kentucky's attempt to remain neutral during the war ... politically it was Unionist, but its soul was Confederate. Families in conflict - the attempt at neutrality didn't last and the state was split .. the Civil War presidents on both side were born in Kentucky. When war came to the state, it split families, brothers serving on opposite sides .. and this was true for families of all classes. "Blacks" and the war: slaves who joined the Union army gained their freedom, yet many "blacks" also fought fought on the Confederate side .. in fact only a tiny number of Confederate soldiers were actually slave owners .. for the average Confederate soldier, the war had nothing to do with slavery. Lincoln's proclamation in 1863 granting freedom to slaves was actually only for the Confederate states, it wasn't for another few years that slavery became illegal in the north. Which certainly created an interesting situation .. a civil war in which one side was fighting to abolish slavery, but in which slavery was legal, and the opposing side which, for the most part, supported slavery even tho' slavery was illegal in that part of the USA. The Confederate Raiders and their frequent raids into Union-held Kentucky. Women and the war.
After the War. The rise of the anti-black groups such as the KKK and their influence and activities in Kentucky. Of how former Confederates held political office in Kentucky for decades after the war - and in much of the south too. While in a very real sense, the Confederacy lost the war, after the dust had settled, the Confederates were still in control and they delayed civil rights for former slaves as much as they could. By 1865 the 13th Amendment to the USA Constitution free all slaves anywhere in the country. The 14th Amendment in 1868 gave them civil rights and the 15th in 1870 gave them the right to vote. But in Kentucky, as in much of the south, the amendments were not ratified for many years or even decades in some cases.
There was a Victorian Era middle-class parlour, with a dress, couches, paintings, marble fireplace and so forth. Along with a robitic cat that was playing with a ball of yarn. By 1900 only 1 in 5 Kentuckian's lived in a town of at least 2500 .. a big contrast to the rest of the USA. It was this handful of "urbanites" who adopted the Victorian lifestyle - for the majority of Kentuckian's, life was rural and little different from before the Civil War. There was a collection of clothing and "homekeeper's" tools from the time. A display on education after the war, especially for women and former slaves. New roles and rights for women in the society .. rights which allowed them to own property, to serve as legal guardians for minors, to go to college and even to make a will. Sporting interests of the middle-class urbanites .. bicycling, tennis, golf, baseball (popularised in the 1870's), football (popularised in the 1880's) and horseracing - the first kentucky Derby was held in 1875. Other entertainment's such as poetry, theatre and music.
The Industrial Age began slowly in Kentucky. The big cities were heavily industrialised, coal mining was beginning in the east and west but the rest of the state remained untouched. There was a collection of farm tools, all human or animal powered, representing the rural life, and an exhibit on the Southern Expo, held in Louisville, which highlighted all the then modern conveniences. Conveniences that most Kentuckian's would not have even dreamt existed. By 1900 less than 4% of Kentuckian's were involved in manufacturing yet Louisville was one of the USA's leading industrial centres. A marked contrast. Even today Kentucky is a very rural state, with 50% of people living in communities of under 2500 - which compares to an urbanisation rate in Australia of around 98% and 78% for the USA. But it was the lure of coal and timber that would soon open up much of the rest of the state, resources that until the early 1900's had hardly been touched.
Moonshining has been a Kentucky tradition since the 1790's when a Federal Excise tax was imposed on whiskey. The tradition continues even today, especially in the more isolated areas.
The dawn of the 20th century meant "King Coal" for Kentucky with the discovery and exploitation of huge coal fields in the mountainous east. Mining life in the first few decades of the century centred on the Company Town's. There was a display on life in the mines. Dangerous work with primitive equipment - hand tools and dynamite. The safety equipment was equally primitive. The rise of the mining unions. Life in a company town - the company provided housing, schools, a store, medical care .. all at a cost. Some towns were good, but for every decently run company town there were plenty of poor ones. In some the miners were even told how they had to vote. There was a recreation of a company store with food, medicines, clothing, home wares, guns and the local post office.
As industrialisation brought the state into the modern era, it also brought the push for equal rights, for both women and non-whites. For both it was a long and hard struggle and one that still goes on today. Prohibition: despite being the "home" of bourbon, the state led the way in the prohibition era. The whole state was dry before the 18th Amendment was passed in 1919 making the country dry. In fact by 1907 most of the state was already dry (that is, the sale and consumption of alcohol was banned). Frontier nursing. Education reform. The impact of the electronic media on the state. Arts and literature in the early 20th century.
The Depression. Kentucky suffered less than most states because most kentuckian's were subsistence farmers. Still, its effect was felt. Farming in 1930 Kentucky was still unmechanised .. everything was done by hand or by animal. Tobacco and corn were the main crops. It was here that we heard the second of the oral retellings. The story of Mary Ruth Dawson was taken from the diary of farmwife who lived thru' the depression and who was typical of her society. Mary's husband farmed tobacco while she looked after the kitchen garden and a flock of chickens. The trials and worries of people back then. Bartering rather than using money. A cynicism about government promises, yet a faith that the government would eventually fix things. Hopes of escaping the depression. Hopes for the future, the coming of electricity and the great release from hard work it would bring. The occasional trip into town to see a movie or to buy something fancy. For all that, the rural Kentuckian survived the depression with much more ease than their urban contemporaries because they were mostly self sufficient.
World War II and it's effect on Kentucky society. The booming economy. The Cold War. The future. What industries will be important to the state in the future? Possibly the hand crafts industry which continues to grow. The corvette and KFC are famous examples from the past. Speaking of famous, there was an exhibit on famous Kentuckians. Political figures, singers .. mostly country, but not all, sports stars such as Muhammad Ali, playwrights, journalists and actors .. such as Tom Cruise.
Well that's the end of my Bluegrass sightseeing - in fact the end of my sightseeing in the USA. Coming up in the next installments will be my trips to England and Canada.
18th, September, 1999; Frankfort, Kentucky, USA.
Ó David Powell, 2000. Reproduction for financial gain is strictly prohibited. I also do not guarantee any of the historical or geographical information given above.
Some web links of interest: The following is a list of web pages that have some connection with the above sites and activities. I've not checked most of them, so I can't guarantee that they'll all work or be current. For the most part they have been taken from tourist brochures etc connected with the above sites I've visited. Links are listed in the order that the attractions appear above.
Marengo Caves, Indiana http://www.cavern.com/marengocave
Lincoln State Park http://www.kystateparks.com/agencies/parks/linchome.html
Lincoln Birthplace National Park http://www.nps.gov/abli
Carter Caves, Kentucky http://www.kystateparks.com/agencies/parks/cartcave.htm
Kentucky Historical Society (& Museum) http://www.kyhistory.org
The Belle of Louisville http://www.belleoflousiville.org
Louisville, Kentucky Visitor's Centre http://www.louisville-visitors.com
Cane Ridge Meeting House - email: email@example.com
Paris-Bourbon County Chamber of Commerce & Visitor's Information http://www.parisky.com
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