25th July, '98: Kentucky's Cave
Country - Day 1
Spent a few days visiting Kentucky's "Cave Country", an area that probably has the highest concentration of caves in the world. In an area covering less than 30x15 miles, there are dozens of known caves and likely countless more still awaiting discovery. In addition to the Mammoth Cave system (the largest in the world) there's an additional 7 show caves - that is, developed for tourists. There are many more but the sheer number of them means that most are undeveloped. Mammoth Caves is certainly the most popular and well known, but the others all have their own attractions. But more on them latter.
First cave we visited was Hidden River Cave, right in the middle of downtown Horse Cave. The entrance is actually under the main street and the cave underlies the tiny downtown. Most caves have pretty small entrances, often just big enough to crawl through, this cave however had a pretty large one, about 100ft wide and 50ft high and at the bottom of a sinkhole. Stairs led down to the entrance which was surrounded by a lot of lush greenery - and lots of ferns, which is a rare thing here No formations, but lots of history. Just in from the mouth there are a bunch of springs which feed a pretty strong flowing river. In the 1800's the river was used as a source of cold water, an early form of air-conditioning for nearby buildings and there was also a small hydro-electric power station - Horse Cave was the first town in Kentucky to have electric lighting. Remains of which are still in the cave. A big problem with the kind of geology that underlies the area is that anything that seeps thru' into the limestone bedrock or goes down the many sinkholes in the area is that it all ends up in the river. In the 1940's the cave was closed because it had literally become a sewer. In the decades after that the smell from the cave got so bad that it threatened to kill the town until common sense prevailed and conservation measures were put into force. A sewage treatment plant was built and sinkhole dumping prohibited. Successfully, I'm glad to say. The water in the cave is pure and the air fresh. Wildlife has even returned. The trail goes down 171 steps to the level of the river and then goes over several bubbling springs, remaints of the caves time as a water and electricity supply and then over the river. It's only just been re-opened and they hope to extend the walkway into other chambers in the future. Above the cave is a museum with exhibits on cave geology, the history of the cave as well as lots of beautiful photographs of caves around the US. One of the more unusual forms of "cave life" was a feral cat that has adopted the cave as it's home and usually tags along on most of the tours. Also at Horse Cave is the Kentucky Caverns, which is part of an Australian-themed zoo and a recreated sheep-station, of all things. You can't tour the caves by themselves, so we skipped that one.
A few miles south at Cave City is the Onxy Cave, discovered in the 1970's when they were building a car park. Most of the tour is along an above-ground corridor surfaced with artificial rock, with frequent side trips down into small caves packed with formations. Some of them pretty large and colourful. At some spots it's pretty narrow and you have to squeeze thru' sideways, but it's worth it for the view. The "wishing pool" was pretty lame - a plastic pond liner filled with water at the bottom of a drop. But I guess wishing pools are things a lot of people expect to find and judging by the amount of money in it, a lot of people find it satisfying. Why "onyx"? Onyx is a highly crystallised form of limestone and much of the formations in this cave (and many others for that matter) is coated with the stuff, sometimes up to several inches thick. It's a lot harder and more glass-like than normal limestone, so the formations often appear very different from usual, as if they have been coated with milky glass. Many of the caves in the area have some onyx. At the top of the hill which covers the cave is Tombstone Mountain, a recreated western town complete with chorus girls and gun fights. More aimed at the kiddies tho'.
Also in Cave City is the Crystal Onyx Cave. A wonderful cave made all the more memoriable for the very entertaining guide. While some guides sound like they are speaking from rote and seem almost half bored, this guy was anything but. Not only did he demonstrate a great love for caves but also a great love for showing people around. Pretty much all of the cave was active, which means lots of wonderful and beautiful formations, stalagmites, stalactices and flowstones by the barrelfull, soda-straws, pools (including the 25 foot long Crystal Lake) and the like. Had some really unusual honeycomb-like formations. The Imagination Room had a number of formations including the Dolphin, the Dragon and the Eagle. Also a rim-stone dam, the walls highly corrugated, about 1-2 foot tall and stretching for about 40 feet. During the obligatory "lights-out" he also demonstrated an unusual feature of onyx - shine a torch on it for a minute or so, turn the lights out and it glows in the dark like one of those kids toys. Part of the cave system was once used as an Indian burial ground and they have archaeologists digging up looking for more relics all the time. Every few weeks they find more bones. A federal law prohibits the exhibit of human remains, so those parts are off-limits.
One amusing feature at Cave City is Wigwam Village, a motel where instead of the usual rooms, you can stay in a huge concrete wigwam. Cute.
26th July, '98: Kentucky's Cave
Country - Day 2. Bowling Green, Kentucky
A few miles south of Cave City is the Diamond Caverns, right on the edge of Mammoth Caves National Park. Lots of beautiful formations there, especially in the "old" section of the cave (geologically speaking, that is), certainly the best collection of formations we saw on the trip. The haystack, a huge flowstone; the Onyx Cathedral; the Three Graces, a cascading flowstone; several natural bridges and the Queen's Den. Heaps of honeycomb formations and cave coral - the first I've seen in the US (it's pretty common in Aussie caves). According to the guide it forms only where the rock is pretty porous. Lots of narrow passages and a fair bit of stooping required on this tour. And to think that back in the 1800's the rich folk used to do cave tours there, dressed in all their finery and crawling thru' the mud - no cleared paths back then. Ladies in their long dresses and gentlemen in their tails and top hats. Certainly would have been a sight to see, tho' there wouldn't have been all that much to see actually since they only had lantern lighting.
Half way to Bowling Green is Smith's Grove, touted as a historic distric, tho' most of the "historic" seemed to be inside the many antique stores. Quite a few nice old buildings there, including a very massive looking stone bank dating from the 1800's. I guess since Jesse James and his ilk were often in the area, that's no surprise. In a farm near Smith's Grove is the Cave Spring Cavern, next to an old mansion house that now serves as a bed & breakfast. The sign said there were only a few tours each day so we planned to come back latter in the day to catch one of them. Alas when we did the tour times sign had vanished and there was not a single sign of life to be found (human life, that is). A bit of a dissapointment. Looked pretty neat on the brochure. *shrug*
Bowling Green, Kentucky. Home of the corvette - since they are all made there. Even has a huge corvette museum, for those interested in such things. More to the point, "BG" is the home of a number of historic sites including a mansion museum (Riverview) and, you guessed it, another cave. While in Bowling Green we walked around the downtown, saw the county courthouse, Fountain Park and Felt's Log Cabin (1835) at Western Kentucky University. Bowling Green was Kentucky's Confederate capital during the Civil War.
Lost River Cave. A lot like Hidden River Cave, which even the names suggest. Was never used as a town water and electricity supply, but it was once used as a nightclub and holiday resort - and a dam was built to generate electricity for the resort. Was even a brandy and whiskey distillery there. Like the Hidden River Cave it saw bad days, and for much the same reason. Garbage was dumped directly into the river and cave and sewage etc seeped thru'. And thanks to petrol spills in the area, the "air" in the cave was laden with fumes, enuf of the stuff that a single spark could have caused an explosion that could have wiped out much of Bowling Green which sits on top of the cave. "BG" is Kentucky's fifth largest city. The cave was designated a Superfund site (that is one of the country's worst environmental disasters) and efforts to restore the cave taken. Successfully too - there's only a very faint odour in the air, the water is clean and the cavelife has moved back in, spiders, crickets, crayfish and so forth. Even albino ones that are found only in caves.
A five minute walk thru' a near virgin forest takes you to the bottom of the sinkhole where springs feed the river. Looks quite still and placid, but looking at the water going over the dam there is obviously a pretty strong current underneath. So strong that when they first surveyed it in the 1800's they thought the spring was over 470 feet deep and it was thought to be the shortest and deepest river in the world - in reality it's at most 10 feet deep, but the strong current had carried the lead weight downstream. The water is green, not with algae but because it contains a lot of calcite particles. Sounds wierd that a colourless mineral can give rise to such an intense colour, but remember that plain water makes the sky look blue and gold dust makes glass a deep, rich red. The cave entrance itself is the largest in the eastern US, about 250ft wide and 50ft high. Inside there are some tight spots on the tour, but there are several waterfalls and even a geyser. Normally there's also a boat cruise along the cave river, but with a recent flood, the water level is too high for the boat to get thru'.
Then headed back to Cave City. Drove along the Old Mammoth Cave Road which is lined with dozens of "tourist traps" selling antiques (junk, literally in some cases), "rocks" (actually coloured glass and plastic in most cases!!) and .... well, you get the picture. Really corny, but the sheer number of them proving that there must be a lot of suckers born every minute.
27th July, '98: Mammoth Caves,
Mammoth Cave. And truely mammoth - the largest cave system in the world (350 miles is mapped so far), tho' only 10% of it is active, that is has cave formations, and so most of the tours are thru' dead sections. Most caves usually enjoy around 80% active and that was perhaps the one dissapointment. That and the huge crowds, I prefer much smaller, more intimate cave tours. Mammoth Cave offers a range of different tours, ranging from short tours for those with handicaps to 6 hour long trecks thru' the bowels of the system, walk thru' caving to crawl-thru-the-mud caving. But with the huge crowds (millions a year), most of the tours book out hours if not days in advance - even with 120 or so people on each tour! The caves area, above ground and below, is the US' second oldest major tourist attraction, it's a World Heritage Site and also an International Biosphere Reserve.
Started off the day with the Frozen Niagara tour. Most of the tour was dry and it started off with a rather energetic climb down 300 or so stairs going thru' narrow passages and open chambers. At the end of the stairs the tour stopped at Grand Central Station for a lecture on the caves, especially the part which this tour covered. Turns out the reason that so much of Mammoth is dry is because most of the cave area is covered with a layer of sandstone, which prevents water seepage into the cave system - it's only where there is no sandstone (or other rock) on top of the limestone that there is seepage into the cave and thus formations. Grand Central is a large, dry and dusty room 250 ft below the surface and is done out as an auditorium, complete with seats. After that there was another hike thru' the cave system to the next "attraction". On the way one of the guides pointed out some fossils in the walls to those of us at the tail end of the tour. Neat! You don't see many of them in caves since they are either weathered away or covered with cave formations. Apparently there are a lot of fossils in Mammoth Cave. There's a Crystal Lake, some 60ft down in one of the vertical chambers. The last part of the tour was thru' a wet section and a pretty impressive one at that. The first part, the Rainbow Dome and Drapery Room, has huge "ites" and flowstones, including the Frozen Niagara which was the most impressive formation, a 75ft, 50ft wide flowstone - indeed, it's the most impressive formation in the whole cave system. After that the trail goes thru' the Onyx Chamber and then the Onyx Colonnade, a faerie-land of small onyx formations ranging up to a few feet in height, glittering like melted white glass. Beautiful.
After lunch we went on the Historic Tour, so named because part of the tour was the first Mammoth Cave tour but also because there's a lot of history along the tour. List the previous tour, all but the last part was dry. The tour started off at the "historic entrance", a huge cave mouth surrounded by greenery and a lovely waterfall descending from the top lip of the cave mouth. Travelling along the first passage we passed thru' the site of an old saltpetre mine from back in the early 1800's. The saltpetre was extracted from the packed dirt on the floor, where it was created by bacteria countless years ago. At the end of the 1812 war production stopped and all the mine workings were left there and have been preserved almost intact to today because of the dry and cool air. Not the only thing preserved either - before the "whiteman" mined the caves for saltpetre, the indians mined for gypsum and archaeologists are continually finding relics of that time, including a mummified body trapped 2000 years ago in a rock slide; hair, skin and even internal organs still present. Wonder if that ghost still haunts the cave? One part we didn't see was a TB hospital from the 1840's in one of the caves - alas the idea didn't work and the patients died, even the doctor ended up dying from TB. We then passed thru' two tall and deep chambers, one called the Bottomless Pit, even tho' the bottom was a "mere" 105ft down. From there we went thru' Fat Man's Misery, which was just what it sounds, a long, windy stretch but one which was very narrow. Could just as well be called camera wielder's misery too. Needless to say, the walls of that part were polished smooth. Very smooth! Then we arrived at the live part. First was River Hall, which is usually filled with water when there's lots of rain. No formations, but there was a water bubbler! Or water fountains as they are called here. There we had a talk on the cave and it's geology before going onto the last section, the Ruins of Karnak. Only one word can be used to describe that chamber - mammoth, if you'll pardon the pun. Everything in it was on a large scale. An immense vertical chamber, at least six stories high - that was how many flights of stairs it took to get out. And lots of water running and dripping down, which had eroded shapes into the walls making it look something like an ancient egyptian temple, hence it's name. The top part of the chamber was called Mammoth Dome. Fitting.
After the cave tour we headed back to the park centre and watched a 15 minute film on the cave, it's history and it's geology.
To finish off the day at the park we went on a 7 mile river cruise on the Green River, which runs thru' the National Park. The tour was about an hour long and was on a diesel paddle boat. Where you board the boat there's also a paddle-ferry for those wanting to cross the river. The Green River actually is green, tho' from dissolved calcite, not from algae and it's almost entirely fed from springs draining out of the Mammoth Cave system. For much of its length in the park, the river is bordered by steep stone walls and there's plenty of wildlife. We saw turtles, deer and a number of smallish furry critters, in and out of the water. The mid-point of the cruise wasSand Cave Island, not to be confused with the infamous Sand Cave on the other side of the park where Floyd Collins, the famous cave explorer of the early 1900's was killed. At the end of the cruise we took a trail to the Echo River Spring, one of the many cave-fed springs that feed the river. It was starting to get dark by then and the combination of the dim light, the mist above the water and the "babbling" of the creek made for a most wonderful scene.
There is, of course, heaps more to see and do in the Caves area, a Shaker village, museums, scenic drives, amusement parks, canoeing, hiking, horse riding and much more. In three days there's only so much you can see, after all.
19th September, '98: Kentucky
Folklife Festival, Frankfort, Kentucky
Went to the Festival of Kentucky Folklife, which was held here in Frankfort at the Old Capitol and in the Civic Centre Court which was next-door. The festival actually went for four days, we just went for one. I guess it was fairly typical for such events - not to suggest we didn't thoroughly enjoy ourselves, 'cuz we did. Just that if you've been to one before, you'll have a pretty good idea of the kind of things there. There were food stalls, craft and display stalls, performances and much more. It was a hot and humid day, tho' it wasn't too bad around the Old Capitol 'cuz it's surrounded by huge leafy trees and down at the river area there was a nice cool breeze, but most of the stuff was in the Court where there was no shade at all and not a breath of breeze. The day was forecast to be mild and with afternoon storms, but I don't think they could have been further from reality if they tried! Well, nothing surprising there.
There was a variety of ethnic foods representing some of the many ethnic groups that had settled in the area, including Mexican and african-american. But there were also quite a lot of stalls selling traditional Kentucky-style cooking, including "Funnel Cakes" (bread fried in oil), fried chicken and barbecued meat - well, I guess that's not all uniquely local, but there was a variety of different types of meat on sale, all cooked in a delicious sauce that was local. They even had mutton, which is very rare in the US. There was one other culinary offering and this one is definitely a local specialty - "burgoo", a stew containing veggies and four different kinds of meat (turkey, chicken, beef and deer). I was assured that the recipe was only passed down from one generation to the next.
There were a lot of displays on Kentucky folk art, folklore, games and the like. There was wood carving, quilt making, cooking, dancing and singing - both ethnic and Kentuckian including african and asian, fiddles, banjo's and bluegrass music. Frankfort is, after all, right in the middle of the "Bluegrass" - central Kentucky. Games such as adult version of marbles, with rules and traditions. Looked more like bowls to me. There was a stall on fly-fishing. The guy there told me how he handmade rods from bamboo imported from china; a business he started when he couldn't find any decently priced fly-fishing rods. Incredibly light, but also very strong - a rod weighing only a few ounces could land an 18 pound fish. Next to that was a display on Kentucky wildlife (thankfully air-conditioned!) with local snakes, birds, spiders as well as several educational exhibits. There were displays on saddle horse stuff, which the area is famous for, tobacco farming, another of the area's big industries, basket making, story telling, boat making and river lore - Frankfort was a river town in it's early days.
Part of the river display was two tug boats, one which turned out to be owned by the husband of one of the ladies at the line dance lessons we go to each week. Small world. Well, Frankfort is a small city. Next to the tug boats was a paddle-boat on which we took a one hour cruise up and down the Kentucky River. The "Dottie G" was named after the captain's wife and was pretty posh looking inside. Quite a nice cruise. Went down thru' the centre of Frankfort, little of which could be seen since there's dense forest at the river edge where there aren't steep palisades. Very green - both the river and the trees - tho' some of the tree's were starting to turn to their autumn yellows, golds and reds. Like the Titanic, there were fewer life jackets than passengers, but since the river was only 26 foot deep while the boat was 34 foot tall, as the captain joked, one just had to climb to the top in the unlikely event the boat sank - unlikely because she had nine hulls. Then again, the Titanic was s'posed to be unsinkable as well.
There was heaps more stuff here including non-stop folklore videos all day as well as all the Old Capitol itself and all the things that are there normally.
10th October, '98: Versailles,
Spent the day seeing some of the sights in the town Versailles and Woodford County. And yes, there are a few signs of French influence in the area, even tho' the locals don't pronounce it the same way. First call of the day was the Labrot and Graham Bourbon Distillery, reached by a pleasant drive along a narrow and winding country road. Oh, and Labrot was French. Founded in 1812 by Elijah Pepper, it's the oldest in the country. What marks this place as unique is that everything thing is done by hand, just as it was in the early 1800's. They still use wooden fermentation tanks and copper pot stills and have a fairly limited production. Of course, this all comes at a cost - the distillery only produces for the top end of the market, the "oh so exclusive" and the "oh so *expensive*" end. There's a lot of history at this place, the first use of glass bottles for whiskey, the first use of charred barrels for the maturing (the char creates the rich flavour), the first use of scientific principles to create a consistent product. No surprise that even tho' bourbon wasn't invented there, the distillery is known as the birthplace of the bourbon industry.
The place itself is very picturesque, nestled in a valley, with lush green hills surrounding, looking very much like the tv advert for a certain competitor (whose distillery looks more like an oil refinery). There are two large red brick buildings, covered with ivy, but all the "action" occurs in a cluster of early 1800's limestone buildings along the creek. The tour starts in the visitors centre, where there's a 15 minute video on the history of the distillery and the contributions to the art of bourbon making that originated there. And not just the bourbon, but also the people. After that we headed down to the plant itself.
First stop was the fermentation tanks, about 20 feet high and made of cypress. About a metre from the top there's a platform, from where one could look inside. Two of the tanks were full of a fermenting "gloop" of ground grain (mostly corn), water, starter yeast and a few other things. Continually bubbling from the gas given off. From there we went to the other end of the building where the mash is transferred after seven days (it's then called "beer", but pretty strong since it's 20-proof) and distilled in three huge copper pots. Each distillation takes 15 hours and they do it three times, resulting at the end in a colourless, faintly smelling 160-proof spirit - the guide passed around a sample while she talked about the art of coopering (making barrels) and why charring the insides makes a difference. During hot weather, the bourbon seeps into the wood, penetrating almost to the outside (but fortunately, not quite), when it cools down, the bourbon drains back out of the wood, taking with it all sorts of flavoured and scented chemicals from the char. Many years of this results in a very richly flavoured product. That's also why they only use bourbon barrels once - after 8 years or so, there's not much left to extract out. Not that the barrels are trashed, they are then sold to wine and scotch whiskey makers, where the flavours don't come from the wood. We saw a cross section of part of a barrel and we could see the water line (or should that be bourbon line?), where the spirit had soaked thru' to on the hot days. Once the bourbon comes out of the still's, it's then put into the barrels and rolled (by hand!) downhill to the warehouse where they sit undisturbed for years while the bourbon matures. Just a comparison - the Leestown Company in Frankfort stores over 100,000 barrels, while here there's a "mere" 5,000. After 8 years, the barrels go back onto the rails and they are rolled down to the bottling building where the contents are carefully filtered, checked and then bottled by hand. The last spot on the tour was the home of the "tax man". Until recently, every distillery had to have a government tax agent, who'se job was to check the weight of every single barrel so the distillery could be taxed accordingly. After the tour, it was back to the visitors centre to check out the museum display and to receive a complimentary iced-tea, chocolate and souvenir.
Next stop was Versailles where we had lunch and did the historic walking tour along main street. A few of the buildings on the main street date to the early 1800's, tho' most of them are of 1890's-1900's vintage, thanks to a severe fire in 1886. Very Victorian looking. One pleasant feature is that unlike most US towns, there's no overhead wiring along the main street to destroy the view. Just off the main street there's a small park containing a stone that's said to resemble a map of Kentucky and was used as a "luck" stone by a state Governor who was from Versailles. Opposite the park is the Carter House, built in 1792, oldest in Versailles and lived in by the Carter family since 1816. All in all it's a very beautiful and graceful town - but still a healthy one. Just out of the downtown is the County Historical Museum, sited in an old church. Downstairs is a museum display and upstairs a genealogical library. The day we arrived, they were in the middle of moving the museum to the upper floor, so many of the exhibits were boxed up. Still, what there was still there was quite interesting. Models of old buildings in the area and relics from the 1800's including clothes, toys, kitchen stuff and a piano.
South of Versailles is the Jack Jouett house, built in 1797 and home to a revolutionary war hero. On overhearing that the British were planning on capturing Jefferson and other members of the American legislature, Jouett rode 40 miles in the middle of the night to successfully warn Jefferson of the impending attack. Why Jouett was relegated to the footnotes of history, while others, who could claim less heroic and significant deeds, were elevated remains one of those mysterious quirks of history, I guess. We were quite fortunate with our tour - there was a group from the Daughters of the American Revolution in the same tour group we were in. No doubt that encouraged the guide, a local historian who was dressed in the period costume of an american military officer, to a greater performance! He gave us a lecture on Jouett and his role in history, after which he took us on a tour of the house. Fairly small and simple, limestone walls and a shingle roof; three rooms on the ground floor and two small bedrooms in the attic for the twelve kids the Jouett family had. Rare for the time, all survived to adulthood. The guide had a tale to tell for virtually every piece in the house, from the floor mats to the exquisite desk. Next to the house was the kitchen, restored to how it likely looked back then. Beyond the kitchen is the site of an annual archaeological dig, where they've discovered a treasure trove in the Jouett's family trash heap as well as the foundations for the slave quarters. To the side of the house, some distance away, was a small cemetery (post dating the Jouett's time), surrounded by an old stone wall. The guide is also the caretaker and every now and again he has convict help for restoring the site, the last project was restoring the cemetery. It's amazing how history repeats itself - the country was founded on convict labour after all, after the revolution it was replaced by slave labour.
After the Jouett house, it was back to Versailles for a ride on the Bluegrass Scenic Railroad. A non-profit group operates the line from Versailles to the Kentucky River, passing thru' horse farms and rolling hills. Unfortunately, the trains and the tracks have seen far better days and it turned out to be something of a disappointment. The poor condition of the tracks drastically limited the speed of the train and made for a quite noisy ride as well as cutting out the last part of the tour, which is the most scenic with a 240-foot deep gorge and the Kentucky River bluffs. Apparently there was extensive damage to the tracks last winter, which is no doubt the source of many of their current problems - since the line is abandoned, the group not only has to maintain the train, but also the tracks. There's also a small museum on train history in the area - naturally enough in train carriages. One interesting tidbit - in the early railroad days in Kentucky, thanks to the scarcity of steel and the abundance of limestone, the tracks were made out of limestone with 1cm strips of steel bolted on top and a groove carved for the train wheels. These unusual train tracks were replaced by the more familiar I-shaped rails as soon as possible since the metal strips had an unfortunate tendency to come loose and spear into the carriages. Not a pleasant experience for those inside, I daresday!
The day finished with a visit to a friend's place in Versailles where we had a wonderful meal and many hours of enjoyable conversation.
15th October, '98: I-75 Trip
- Richmond and Berea, Kentucky. Corbin, birthplace of KFC
The 15th and 16th October was "Fall Break" and the last chance to do some serious sight-seeing this time 'round. We headed south on I-75, crossed just over into Tennessee and then headed back, seeing attractions along the interstate (highway) as we went.
First stop was White Hall, not too far south of Lexington, a very imposing mansion built back in 1798. Built by Green Clay, it's most famous resident was Cassius Clay (no, not Muhammed Ali, who was born with that name) who was an early anti-slavery advocate, newspaper publisher, friend to Lincoln and latter on ambassador to Russia - during which time he arranged for the US to buy Alaska from the Russians and assembled a remarkable collection of exquisite objects d'art. The house itself is huge and impressive - it has 44 rooms! And the first in the area of have central heating and indoor plumbing. The mansion is full of period furniture, some of it original to the family.
The mansion is actually two parts, the original home built in 1798 by Green and Cassius' 1860's extension, both of which built of brick with white trimming (columns etc). The old section has ceilings 12 feet high, while in the new part they are 16ft which makes for some unusual architecture considering the mansion is three-stories! Both parts demonstrate the same thing - great wealth. Green Clay was the surveyor for the new state of Kentucky and at the time he was paid not in money but in land, half of all that he surveyed. As a result, he ended up owning a significant part of the state. As soon as you enter the mansion, this wealth is plainly obvious, from the huge chandeliers in every room on the ground floor, the huge, airy rooms more fitting a big-city library or some other public building, the intricate friezes covering much of the ceilings on the ground floor and in the ballroom, huge 16 foot tall Grecian columns and several wall to ceiling mirrors. And yet, when Cassius died, the furnishings were removed and the mansion rented out to a series of tenant farmers - who used the place for keeping animals, storing hay and even a tractor! In 1968 the family gave the mansion to the state and it was renovated and refurnished with as much of the original furnishings as could be found as well as period stuff.
In his latter years Cassius suffered from serious gout and virtually lived in his library, the walls covered with built-in bookcases (with glass doors, of course). Amazingly, the tenant farmers wallpapered them over, despite their rich colour and intricate carvings, including some which were frankly erotic. But I guess that's no surprise - while he was in Russia as an ambassador, he fathered an illegitimate child to an aristocratic young "lady" and when he was 85, after having been divorced by his first wife when he brought that child to live with him, he then married a 15 year old girl! The bookshelves were rediscovered during the restoration and they once again provide a home to scores of old tomes. There's even a bear-skin rug on the floor, complete with a head. For a place with such an opulent air, the family dining room was surprisingly intimate. Quite small, it only sat four at a time. Even tho' Green Clay had 10 children, it was a family tradition to eat in shifts. One unusual feature about the house is that all the corners are rounded, which adds to the elegance of the place. Also on the ground floor was the parlour and the entrance hall. The first floor (or the second since American's count the ground floor as the first) consists of bedrooms and a sewing room for the ladies to socialise. It was here that the central heating was evident - instead of the usual fireplaces, there were heating vents, linked to a furnace in the basement. An idea Cassius picked up while he was in Russia (tho' the Roman's used it too). In the centre of the floor, between the old and new sections (the floor of the latter 4 feet higher) was another unusual feature - plumbing. One of the first toilets with plumbing, a bath and a sink, all fed from a huge rain-filled copper tank on the next floor up. The next floor up was also devoted to bedrooms, tho' one is a museum display on the family and the restoration of the mansion.
Outside, some of the out-buildings have also been restored, including the kitchen, slave quarters (tho' as an abolitionist, Cassius freed his father's slaves and kept them on as paid servants) and down in the basement, a small gaol - Green Clay was a constable.
Just south of White Hall is Richmond, the county seat of Madison County, first settled in 1789. The first courthouse was a barn, the current one was built in 1849 and on the outside follows the traditional greek-revival style. Inside tho' there's no character - a recent renovation has turned the inside into a modern-looking office building. The main street is full of victorian shop fronts, many dating to the 1800's, there are even victorian style street lamps. The City Hall is another historic site, tho' the government has moved to a "new" building and the old one is currently being renovated. It's fate? A museum perhaps? There certainly is the need for one - for a county with such a long history, it's surprising that there isn't one yet.
Heading south one gets to Berea, touted as the folk arts and crafts capital of Kentucky. There's an area, just off from the downtown that's entirely devoted to folk crafts of all kinds, wood workers, glass, pottery, weaving, metal and more. Apart from the crafts, Berea's claim to fame is Berea College - one of the few in the US which doesn't charge fees, instead the students work for their education. The college hosts a museum devoted to Appalachian life and history, tho' it's closed at the moment, waiting to move into a new home. Went on a two hour or so walking tour around the campus. The most famous building on campus is the Boone Tavern, a big southern Colonial-style building that was originally the college guest house. Surrounding the Tavern is a small business district, built in the same style. The campus is a mix of the old and the new - even a log cabin. The science building seems well equipped - it has a mineral museum, an observatory and planetarium. Some of the other notable buildings include the Union Church, one of the first in the South to have both blacks and whites in the congregation; the Phelps Stokes Chapel, built by the students and the Danforth Chapel. The latter is quite beautiful inside, with darkly coloured stained glass windows and a peaceful atmosphere. The rear of the chapel contains stones from around the world including a cuneiform tablet from 8th century BC Assyria and a stone from Glastonbury Abbey in England. After the college we went to the tourist centre where we saw a video on the crafts of the area.
Heading on south, one leaves the Bluegrass and enters the Appalachians, the mountainous area that is south-east Kentucky as well as parts of several other states. First stop in the Appalachians was Corbin, home of the Harland Sanders Cafe & Museum, Col. Sander's first KFC restaurant. It was there he perfected his "secret herbs & spices" recipe in the 1940's. Saunder's started off with a cafe and motel on the site, the cafe has been restored, but alas the motel is now a parking lot. There's a small museum display inside, as well as a rather modern looking KFC.
16th October, '98: I-75 Trip
- Cumberland Falls and Pineville, Kentucky
First stop for the day was Cumberland Falls, known as the "Niagara of the South" and it's been a tourist mecca for almost 200 years. Discovered in a Hollywood-ish fashion in 1780 by an exploration party which was traveling down the Cumberland River by boat, when they came around a bend in the river and suddenly encountered the waterfall, the boat went over tho' they managed to scramble to the shoreline before the drop. The waterfall is 125 feet wide, with a 68 foot drop into the gorge below, with a flow of up to up to 60,000 cubic feet per second, tho' it's usually around 3200 cubic feet/sec. That translates into a lot of water and it's the biggest falls east of the Rockies (on the west coast) and south of Niagara. Quite an impressive waterfall; just the one drop, but there's a lot of it, so much so that there's an ever-present mist at the base of the falls. When the sun is out and the angle is right, you can catch a rather beautiful rainbow, but the waterfall is famed for its "moonbow" - on clear nights with a full moon, a lunar "rainbow" can be seen. Usually just a white band in the mist, tho' on occasion colours have been seen. Moonbows regularly occur only at one other place in the world - in Africa. There are viewing platforms all around, near the top of the falls, looking down, two at the base of the falls including one so close you are in the mist and others scattered down the river, giving views of the waterfall, the river and the Cumberland Gorge.
The park has 17 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy to hard. One of which is a 2-3 mile trail to Eagle Falls. Part way along the trail there's a side trail with over 200 steps which takes you to a lookout where you can see the falls from above as well as the river and the gorge. Definitely worth the effort! All along the trail there are clearings where you can catch glimpses of the gorge and falls. At the end of the trail is Eagle Falls, where Eagle Creek flows down the side of the Cumberland Gorge into the river. Eagle Falls is quite different from Cumberland Falls; nestled in a dim and shadowy glade cut into the side of the valley, a drop of 40 feet and with a fairly small flow. After the long hike, the slight chill to the air in the glade was most welcome. And like it's big brother (or sister), Eagle Falls also had a small rainbow. Very peaceful sitting near the base of the falls on a boulder, listening to the water falling and trying to catch another glimpse of the elusive rainbow, away from all the crowds at the big falls - few visitors are willing to take the long and difficult hike to get there, especially the last part which is almost straight down.
Cumberland Falls is west of Corbin, we then headed back to Corbin and east on the road to Cumberland Gap. Part-way there is Pine Mountain Park, beneath which is nestled the town of Pineville. A 1/2 mile hike in the park brings you to Chained Rock, a large boulder seemingly precariously balanced on the side of the mountain, overhanging Pineville, 1000 feet below. Local legend holds that sometime in the 1800's, the rock was anchored in place by a 101 foot long chain out of fear the boulder would fall onto the town. The boulder is actually firmly fixed to the mountain, but it does offer some amazing views of the valleys below.
17th October, '98: I-75 Trip
- Cumberland Gap, Levi Jackson State Park, Kentucky
Cumberland Gap is a 800 foot break in the Cumberland Mountains, right where Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee meet. Not only does it boast some pretty spectacular scenery, but it's also got a lot of history. Drove up to Pinnacle Overlook (elevation: 2440 ft), which is on the east side of the gap. Nice drive up the side of the mountain along a country road thru' a forest that's well into autumn - lots of colours, reds, yellows and oranges, as well as a continual rain of leaves. Once there, there's a short walk to the viewing platform, from which on a clear day you can see five states. From the lookout you could see all of the Gap and into Kentucky and Tennessee on either side (the lookout itself is in Virginia), a wonderful view. Up close you could see down the side of the mountains, covered in trees, with occasional bits of the cliff-face sticking out. Even a few large birds circling around down below. Hawks, eagles or some-such. Some of the other things that could be seen from the lookout include the city of Middlesboro, KY; Fern Lake to the west of Middlesboro; the southern exit of the road tunnel, the now-abandoned path of the highway that once crossed the Gap - it's now been replaced by a tunnel, torn up and replanted with trees, the highway followed the original Wilderness Trail - and Powell Mountain can't go without mention, on the Tennessee side of Cumberland Mtn. On some mornings, there's an ocean of fog on the Kentucky side of the Gap and one can watch as it pours thru' the Gap into Tennessee (which is less mountainous and at a lower elevation) - unfortunately, that was not the case while we were there.
While known to the Indians for ages, it was discovered by "white man" in 1750 and with it's discovery, an easy and direct route into Kentucky was found. In 1775 Daniel Boone marked out the "Wilderness Trail and by 1800, over 300,000 people had traveled from Virginia, thru' the pass and onto Kentucky and the lands beyond. Incidentally, "Kentucky" comes from the Indian name for the area, "Kan Tuc Ke". During the Civil War, both sides considered the Gap to be strategically important. First the south built a Fort there, Ft Rains, but it was soon abandoned 'cuz of the difficulty in supplying it. Then the Union occupied the fort and re-named it Ft McCook. In time they too abandoned the site for the same reason. There's not much left of the fort now, just some earth works and a restored cannon, but the view is amazing.
In the middle of the park is the Hensley Settlement, founded in 1904 by a back-to-the-pioneer's group who lived there for about 40 years in much the same manner as the early pioneers did. They lived long lives, but there was a very high child death rate and the settlement was abandoned in the early 1950's. It's now been restored and is a working museum during the summer months, but takes a day's hike to reach.
Heading back down we went to the park visitor's centre where we saw two video's, one on the Gap and the other on it's history. Had a look at a small museum display in the centre as well. Then we drove thru' the newly built Cumberland Tunnel which runs under the Gap for a mile or so. On the Tennessee side of the Gap we went to the town of Cumberland Gap, saw the remains of an 1820's iron furnace sitting beside a small stream that was flowing down the mountainside over a series of small waterfalls. Quite beautiful. Walked around the town for a while. Most of the shops were "Ye Olde .." this or that, quite a few of them actually did look pretty old. Along the stream, just downstream from the furnace, there was an old restored water-mill. Just outside of the town, you can get a wonderful view of the eastern face of the Gap, in all it's coloured autumn glory. A little bit further south and you can see the whole Gap, face on and it's there that the impressiveness of the Gap sinks in and you can see the notch in the long mountain range. Up close it's a matter of missing the forest for the trees.
Back north into Kentucky again, we stopped at Middlesboro. Had a peek at the Coal House - built out of coal in 1926 - and the local Historical Museum, which has only just opened in the old town library and while there's not much there yet, the enthusiasm of the curator is a sure sign of things to come.
The last stop on the trip was the Levi Jackson State Park, near London, partway between Richmond and Corbin. At the park entrance was an old mill, McHargue's Mill, with a large collection of mill stones. The mill sits on a small creek, in a well forested glade. Nearby (in the park) is "Defeated Camp", the site of the worst Indian attack in Kentucky's history. A group of pioneers was camped on the site (an Indian sacred site) in 1786 and during the night they were attacked, with at least 24 being killed (many more were never found). A group from a nearby settlement buried the dead in a mass grave. Searching for gold rumoured to have been carried by the party, grave robbers ("whites") latter on dug up the mass grave in their search. Today the site is marked by a number of gravestones and surrounded by a stone wall.
Further into the park is the Mountain Life Museum. A collection of old pioneer buildings moved to the site and furnished with local, period items, all dating from the 1850's and many of which were donated by the Levi family (who also donated the park lands). There's an old school house, now housing a collection of household artifacts and Indian relics (lots of arrow and spear heads, grain grinders and more; even a tom-tom). The Old Hopkins Home (1860) is actually two cabins, one a bedroom and kitchen, furnished as it would have been in the early days. The second cabin also contains an old loom and spinning wheels. Next to the cabins is the Old Ball's Chapel, which was moved to the site complete with pews, pulpit etc. The chapel was built in 1881, but the logs came from an even older building dating to the late 1700's. There's also several display cases with all kinds of stuff in them. The remaining buildings were part of the original Hopkins homestead. There's a smokehouse containing equipment for smoking meat and making gunpowder as well as carpentry tools. It's also home to a swarm of wasps, which because the area is a state park, cannot be exterminated. The blacksmith shop naturally contains blacksmithing tools, including a rather large bellows. This building actually has wooden bars on the windows - not original tho', a movie was once filmed on the site and the blacksmith's shed was used as the gaol ("The Kentuckian", starring Burt Lancaster). The final part of the old homestead is the barn, a rather elaborate two-story affair, containing farming equipment, wagon wheels and an old moonshine still. Upstairs is more farming implements as well as a collection of spinning wheels. Out in front of the barn is a carriage, one of the ones with a canvas shelter that was made famous in the western movies.
22nd October, '98: Stearns and
Big South Fork National Park, Kentucky
Headed down to Stearns, an old coal mining town that's now done up for tourists. One big difference with this trip was that I went with a group from church on a coach (bus).
In the early 1900's, much of the Stearns area was owned by the Stearns Coal & Lumber Co., which apparently had one of the worst reputations for worker treatment - which is saying a lot since the coal companies of the time set new lows in their "care" of their blue-collar workers. The town of Stearns was built to service the many tiny mining camps in the area. Most of the area is now part of the Big South Fork River National Park. The whole area is full of pretty spectacular scenery, full of deep gorges, plateaus, natural rock arches (45 of them!) and waterfalls, including the Yahoo Falls which has the highest drop in the state (113ft).
On arriving in Stearns, we boarded the Big South Fork Scenic Railway and headed to the Blue Heron Mining Camp. The open-car train travels thru' 6 miles of several gorges before arriving at Blue Heron. The trip was quite chilly - temperatures were around 5C (about 40F) at the warmest! About 2/3rd's of the trip was along a gorge with a small creek at the bottom, with the train line meandering up and down the side of the gorge, sometimes running along the creek (which was more a series of ponds at some points), at other times near the ridge, giving a wide range of scenery. Quite a lot of colourful wildflowers along the side of the tracks as well as autumn yellows in the trees, tho' unfortunately not much red, which occasionally opened up to the rocky sides of the gorge. At several spots the track passed thru' a narrow chasm carved out of a spur of the mountain ridge and there was even a tunnel. At the end of that stretch we headed away from the creek and the train stopped for a few minutes at Barthell, a fully restored 1920's mining camp, complete with cabins, a company store, church and school. A little bit further on, the train reached the end of the main line and then reversed into a branch line which runs alongside the South Fork of the Cumberland River and took us to Blue Heron. The whole trip took about an hour.
Blue Heron is a showcase of mining life in the first half of the 20th century. The mine itself was in operation from 1938 to 1962, when it was abandoned because the reserves of high grade coal had been exhausted. At the train stop there's an interpretative display on the history of the mine, the people who worked and lived there and the company who ran it. Also a few exhibits of artifacts from the mining camp. Throughout the area are "ghost" buildings, metal framed buildings representing the original wooden buildings on the site. This was done in an attempt to capture the transient nature of the mining camp. Inside each of the buildings are a few exhibits, plaques giving the history of that particular building and what the people did there and recordings of the reminiscing of those who once lived there. Some of the "ghosts" included miner's cabins, a school, the church and the bath-house (built after the workers went on strike). You can walk into the mine entrance about 10 metres or so. A grate blocks you from going in further and behind it there's a recreation of a mining scene with miners, tracks and a skip-cart. At the mine entrance there are also several pieces of mine machinery. The other major feature that survived was the "tipple" where the coal was processed and loaded onto the trains. There's also a tram bridge that joins the tipple and which crosses the Cumberland River (presumably there was another mine across the river). The bridge has been restored and you can walk across. The bridge is well above tree height and the view is quite amazing, you can see the whole mining camp, get a nice clear view of a lot of the river gorge and the river itself, in both directions. A little ways downstream there are even some rapids.
Then it was time to get back on the train for the ride back to Stearns. By then it was a little bit warmer - not much tho'. Stearns itself is a pretty small town and the historical district consists of several mining company stores and the company office, a building that now houses the county museum. The shops have been restored and now sell arts and crafts, and antiques. There's also a general store and a restaurant.
The museum certainly packs in a lot of stuff. Outside is a large petrified tree stump found in one of the local mines and dated to about 300,000,000 years old! Just in the entrance there's a display of local Indian artifacts including arrowheads, jewelry etc. There's a gallery devoted to the present day arts and crafts of the area. The next traces the kitchen thru' the ages, from pioneer days to the 1920's and finally to the last days of coal mining in the area - the 1960's. There are rooms similarly devoted to sport in the area, medical services (quite primitive in the early days) and "wash day" - no electric washing machines back in the "olde" days! Also a horse-drawn buggy and a collection of McCleary car number places from 1918 when the county was born to the 1980's. Further on there's a moonshine still (an ubiquitous feature in Kentucky museums, it seems) with a bit of history. Made by a local, Mr Stevens, it was confiscated in 1988. Steven's, in his 80's, has been making moonshine all of his life (the county is "dry"). The curator even brought out a small bottle of moonshine - for sniffing only. Smells almost the same as what comes out of the stills at the bourbon distillery's, just lacking the aging. Moonshine has a lot higher proof (the stuff from the distilleries often has a proof or 160 or so), but in the hands of amateurs can often contain deadly methanol - poor quality moonshine really can send you blind and kill you. After sniffing the moonshine, the curator said she needed to get some fresh stuff; since the lot she brought out was a "gift", I'm sure she has her contacts. I guess in a lot of ways, Appalachian life hasn't changed much, small towns, a slow pace of life and moonshine - "progress" seems to have only lightly trod on this part of the country. Stearns was founded in 1915 and the county in 1918, making it the youngest in Kentucky, but the history of the area dates back a lot further. In 1818 they were even drilling for oil (and yes, found it). There was a general store and post office, full of the kind of goods that were sold in the mining days. Most of the remaining exhibits were of industries that helped make the area: the railroad, lumbering and coal mining (especially the Stearn's Co.) and banking; and include photographs, documents, maps and artifacts, there are even several bank vaults.
7th November, '98: Lexington,
With only a handful of days left before the end of this trip, I managed to sneak in another day of sightseeing. Toured Waveland, built in 1847 by Joseph Bryan, a relative of Daniel Boone. A pleasant surprise here was that there was a log cabin set aside for those waiting for the next tours. In addition to brochures, there were games and free tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Quite a nice touch, I thought. From the outside the place looks like a smaller version of White Hall, tho' that's probably just 'cuz they share the same architectural style, namely "Greek Revival". One dramatic difference is that Waveland has lots of external doors on the ground floor - 15 of them in fact. It actually gives the mansion the appearance of an apartment block, tho' only one family lived there. In summer the doors could be opened, capturing even the slightest of breezes.
Joseph's father, Daniel Boone Bryan, arrived in Kentucky with his famous uncle (whom he was named after) and settled at Bryan's Station in 1779, living in a simple stone house. Daniel prospered greatly and by the time he died in 1845, his plantation boasted a blacksmith shop, a gunsmith shop, a powder mill, a seminary, a distillery, a paper mill, a flour mill and a church! Joseph demolished the house and built Waveland on the spot. The name Waveland came from the vast fields of grain and hemp grown on the plantation which "waved" in the breeze. There were also thoroughbred horses raised on the plantation and one of the first racetracks in Kentucky. A visit to Waveland during race-time was a social must for mid-19th century Kentucky. Forget any image of ladies with parasol's parading along the sides of the racetrack - gentlemen only were allowed trackside views. The ladies had to be content with what they could see thru' binoculars from the house.
The inside of the mansion is furnished with family and period pieces. Not as opulent as White Hall, but then I daresay very few places reached that degree of opulence. All the rooms have ceilings 14ft high and there are 8 on the tour, which starts with the drawing room, where guests were entertained - and as such is generally the most luxurious room, where the family showed off their wealth and talents to visitors. All thru' the house, the windows had venetian blinds and many also had long, draping curtains. All very colourful too. Two upstairs bedrooms are on the tour, one done out in summer fashion, with the bed next to the windows, cane mats etc, the other in winter fashion, with the bed well away from the windows, chairs and such like crowded around the fireplace and heavy draperies on the windows, all aimed at preserving warmth. Like the ground floor rooms, there are also quite a few external doors upstairs, opening onto balconies that stretch along both sides of the building. The balconies also provided access to the children's bedrooms, tho' there is also a "hidden" staircase in the middle of the house to allow access in the cold of winter. The parlour was where the family got together; not as richly furnished as the drawing room, but quite comfortable. One notable feature was the original Bryan family bible - which had a lock on it. In those days family bibles (in the US) were the only legal record for births and deaths (apart from wills), and often also of marriages so they were literally very valuable possessions. Towards the rear of the house was the study, which incorporates the fireplace and chimney from the original stone cabin, and the dining room.
Outside there was an ice house, a 16ft deep pit where ice was stored for summer use and amazingly enough, it survived the summer heat. Those wealthy enough to afford ice houses were able to enjoy a summer luxury - ice cream. There was a smoking house, not for tobacco smoking, but for curing meat. There the fresh meat was buried in salt for several weeks and then hung from the rafters while the smoke from green hickory wood swirled around them. "Ideally", the best hams were those which sweated thru' at least two hot summers. The final surviving part of the original plantation was the slave quarters, which surprisingly looked to have given better living conditions than most free people of that time could have afforded. Downstairs was the kitchen and workrooms, upstairs living quarters. Comfortable, well-built, each room with a fireplace and furnished (one room even had a "pre-loved" bed which was thought to have been used by the Bryan family until it became too tatty for their "class"). Of course, these were the household slaves, who always had a better standard of living that the farm slaves who had to make do with log cabins.
After lunch we visited Ashland, another famous Lexington mansion. The place is touted as the "Henry Clay Estate", home of the famous US politician - however Clay never actually lived there. The present building was built by his son on the site of the original mansion (which was structurally unsound and demolished after Henry Clay died), it has the same floor plan as the 1806 original, but is built in an "Italianate style" with a Victorian interior. Henry's son, James, was a Confederate sympathiser and near the end of the civil war he fled to Canada with his family. The house was auctioned and bought by a college, tho' in 1883 a daughter of James bought it back and it then remained in the family in 1950 when it became a museum, complete with family furnishings.
Henry Clay was famous - or infamous - for his middle ground stance, which earnt him the label "the Great Compromiser". He successfully negotiated several treaties, is considered the greatest orator in US political history and he even ran for president three times (unsuccessfully). His "compromise" stance was probably most clearly seen in his stance on the slavery issue. He was a slave owner who supported the abolition of slavery, neither side fully trusted him (which is why he never got enuf votes to be president), and there were those on both sides who labeled him a traitor. Henry Clay was related to the Clay's of nearby White Hall - Henry and Green Clay were second cousins.
The house itself has 18 rooms and the furnishings are almost all original to the five generations of Clay's who lived on the estate. Like the home of the "other" Clay's, this place was also pretty luxuriously furnished, full of oil paintings, intricately carved furniture, huge mirrors and richly textured wallpaper. In the Drawing Room there's a huge painting of the Washington family and a giant mirror that's backed with diamond dust, rather than the more common silver. The fireplace mantles are of Italian marble, each one with a different, but beautiful, design. And lots of colour all throughout the house. The Dining Room gave off an atmosphere of poshness, but at the same time came across as being a comfortable, intimate family room. One odd feature was the presence of a safe, a strange place to put one, but it was originally there. The library is perhaps the most unusual of all the rooms, it's in the centre of the house with no external windows (which was unusual for the time), tho' it did have a skylight, and the walls and ceiling were covered with a rich dark wood. The unusual nature of the room didn't stop there; it has an octagonal shape and the ceiling light is inside a carved metal snake's head - originally an oil lamp was attached inside the "mouth". The walls are surrounded by bookshelves, one of which has secret panels behind the books. There were several other rooms on the ground floor including the Billiard's room (for the men; "pool" was a game played only by the lower classes) and the kitchen. Upstairs was, as usual, the bedrooms, all richly furnished, and an indoor toilet and washroom. One interesting tidbit - one reason the old beds seemed so short (tho' they weren't) was that they had so many pillows. People believed that sleeping while sitting up helped prevent TB and if you went to sleep lying down, you'd die. Of course, this superstition was exclusive to the upper class - the poor and the slaves had to make do with straw "mattresses" with straw pillows only inches high.
Outside there were two ice houses, an underground dairy storage, smokehouse, carriage house, gardener's cottage and a wash house/outhouse. There's also a half acre formal 18th century style walled garden, full of boxwood hedges and a maze. The estate is the host to regular archaeological digs and there was one going on while we were there. Some of the finds from previous digs are on display in the wash house
Ended off the day by having a look at Loudon House, a castle-like structure that's now an art gallery, and the Bodley-Bullock House, build around 1811. Also walked around a bit thru' the Gratz park area, saw a few buildings including some old churches and the Carnegie Library.
And that brings to an end another visit to the USA.
10th November, 1998.
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.
Diamond Caverns, Kentucky
Bowling Green, Kentucky http://BowlingGreen.KY.net
Cave City, Kentucky http://cavecity.com
Mammoth Caves National Park, Kentucky http://www.nps.gov/maca/
Richmond, Kentucky, Tourism http://www.Richmond-KY.com
Berea Welcome Centre, Kentucky http://www.berea.com
Cumberland Falls, Kentucky http://www.kystateparks.com/agencies/parks/cumbfal2.htm
Pine Mountain State Park, Pineville, Kentucky http://www.kystateparks.com/agencies/parks/pinemtn2.htm
Cumberland Gap, KY/TN/VA http://www.cumberlandgap.com
Cumberland Gap National Park, KY/TN/VA http://www.nps.gov/cuga/
London (Levi Jackson State Park; Col Sanders Museum), Kentucky http://www.tourky.com/london
Levi Jackson State Park, Kentucky http://www.kystateparks.com/agencies/parks/levijack.htm
Big South Fork National Park, Kentucky http://www.nps.gov/biso/index.htm
Lexington, Kentucky Visitors Bureau http://www.visitlex.com
Waveland, Lexington, Kentucky http://www.kystateparks.com/agencies/parks/wavelan2.htm
Kentucky Tourism Comission http://www.kentuckytourism.com
Kentucky Travel Guide http://www.kytravel.com
Frankfort, Kentucky Visitors Centre http://www.frankfortky.org
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