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KIRK’S FAVORITE PLACES TO VISIT ON KENTUCKY’S WILDERNESS ROAD

Fort Nelson Monument

THE WILDERNESS ROAD CREATED THE PLACE WE LOVE Kentucky became a state in 1792, and its new legislature began to invest in improved roadways. As a result, the Commonwealth experienced amazing growth: 74,000 inhabitants in 1790; 221,000 in 1800; and 407,000 in 1810. By 1810, the population of Kentucky exceeded all but four of the original colonies. Ten percent of the nation’s entire population had crossed the Appalachians into Kentucky. The Kentucky Gazette announced in 1796 that “The Wilderness Road from the Cumberland Gap to settlements in Kentucky is now completed. Wagons loaded with a ton of weight may pass with ease with four good horses. Travelers will find no difficulty in procuring such necessities as they stand in need of on the road, and the abundant crop now growing in Kentucky will afford the emigrants a certainty of being supplied with every necessity of life on the most convenient terms.” It cannot be doubted that the Wilderness Road was the single most influential development in the history of our Commonwealth and helped to create the place we love. Q

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and Pinnacle Overlook State Park – South of Middlesboro on U.S. Hwy. 25E, these are the best places to learn about the Wilderness Road and view the Cumberland Gap. nps.gov/cuga/contacts.htm

Trailhead for the Wilderness Road – U.S. Hwy. 58 near the town of Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, the trailhead features excellent signage describing the Wilderness Road experience.

Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park – South of London on Ky. Route 229, the park boasts terrific hiking trails and camping facilities.

Fort Boonesborough State Park – North of Richmond on Ky. Route 627, the fort is an enjoyable way to learn about life in the late 18th century. The park has excellent camping facilities and is not far from Hall’s on the River restaurant. fortboonesboroughlivinghistory.org, parks.ky. gov, hallsontheriver.com

William Whitley House State Historic Site – South of Stanford off U.S. Hwy. 150, the site offers tours of the house, and visitors can enjoy the nearby town of Crab Orchard. parks.ky.gov

Old Fort Harrod State Park – On U.S. Hwy. 68 in Harrodsburg, the park has a terrific reconstructed Wilderness Road fort and includes re-enactments of activities from the late 18th century at Kentucky’s first settlement. parks.ky.gov

Holy Cross Catholic Church – Northwest of Loretto on Ky. Route 49, the grotto that marks the location of the first Catholic Church west of the Alleghenies is located at the back of a large and interesting cemetery behind the current church.

Bullitt County History Museum – Located in the county courthouse in Shepherdsville, the museum features interesting artifacts and exhibits that describe Kentucky’s early history. bullittcountryhistory.org

Acknowledgments: Ellen Eslinger, editor, Running Mad for Kentucky: Frontier Travel Accounts, 2004. John Mack Faragher, Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer, 1992. John Filson, The Discovery, Settlement, and Present State of Kentucky, 1793. Neal Owen Hammon, “Early Roads Into Kentucky,” Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 68, 2, 1968. Joseph Hardesty, Kentucky history and genealogy librarian, Louisville Free Public Library, for identifying key books and maps. Robert L. Kincaid, The Wilderness Road, 1955. Karl Raitz (Department of Geography, University of Kentucky), Nancy O’Malley (Webb Museum of Anthropology, University of Kentucky), et al., Kentucky’s Frontier Trails: Warrior’s Path, Boone’s Trace and Wilderness Road, 1795, 2008. David Strange, former director of the Bullitt County History Museum, for providing valuable information. F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 • K E N T U C K Y M O N T H LY

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February 2018 | Kentucky Monthly Magazine  

Kentucky Monthly magazine February 2018

February 2018 | Kentucky Monthly Magazine  

Kentucky Monthly magazine February 2018