The rich history and remaining historical landmarks in Kentucky are well worth taking a look back at on the occasion. Many of us learn about some of our history via school, but realistically, class just doesn’t cover it all. As a matter of fact, school can leave out some of the most interesting historical bits of information, like the oldest operating distillery or steamboat. These historical treasures are not lost to us. All we have to do is take a little road trip to check them out.
14. Burke’s Distillery in Loretta
The Kentucky Bourbon Tour is popular and takes you on a step by step through our proud Bourbon history. One stop is the Burke’s Distillery, AKA Maker’s Mark since 1958. Before that, is was a much lesser known distillery, but a favored among the locals. Bourbon is a big part of Kentucky whether you drink it, cook with it, or avoid it.
13. Fort Boonesborough
This is one of the original settlements in Kentucky, founded in the 1700s via Daniel Boone and his companions. The historic community in Madison has been well taken care of to ensure the preservation of the area. Walking around these wooden buildings is like stepping back in time. It is easy to imagine a life of simplicity while strolling around this reminder.
12. Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park at 2995 Lincoln Farm Road in Hodgenville
A replica of the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln is here as a memorial building. The Sinking Spring runs through the park, which was the source for water on the Lincoln homestead.
11. Labrot and Grahm’s Old Oscar Pepper Distillery, Woodford Reserve in Versailles
Though the building wasn’t built until 1838, distilling has been happening at this site since 1780. This is the eldest of the nine primary distilleries currently making spirits in Kentucky. It can also be seen on one of the Kentucky Bourbon Tours.
10. Ashland, Henry Clay’s Home
The land for this historic home was purchased back in 1804 and the estate completed by 1809. The name played off the Ash forest that surrounded the plantation grounds. The home itself is still as impressive today as it was in its day.
9. Belle of Louisville
The Belle was built in 1914 by James Rees and Sons in Pittsburgh. Initially, she was called Idlewild and owned by the West Memphis Packet Company. The Belle is part of the annual Great Steamboat Race as part of the Kentucky Derby Festival, and is said to hold the record in her class for years in operation and river miles traveled.
8. Louisville Water Company Pumping Station on River Road
This ornamental water tower was built in 1856, making it the oldest one of its kind in the world. It was built before the famed Chicago Water Tower. Both the tower and the pumping station are designed in the Greek Temple architectural style and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
7. Dr. Ephraim McDowell House in Danville
This is the location where the very first successful Ovariotomy was done in the US. Dr. McDowell is also the founder of the Trinity Episcopal Church and Centre College. In 1809, he removed a 22.5 pound tumor without the use of anesthetic from Jane Todd Crawford, making this site the spot of a medical miracle.
6. Jefferson Davis Monument at 258 Pembroke Fairview Road in Pembroke
The monument was finished at a height of 351’ in 1924 near the site Jefferson Davis was born. He was the president of the Confederate Union during the Civil War, served as a senator and a congressman, and was Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce. Davis was also a graduate of West Point.
5. Churchill Downs
You may not enjoy the racing, but Churchill Downs has been a part of Kentucky since 1875, hosting the Derby yearly. The Twin Spires are possibly the most famous attraction in our state. More celebrities have walked around the Spires than on the red carpet… Well, maybe.
4. Mayor Andrew Broaddus Lifesaving Station in Louisville
This first lifestation was placed in Louisville during 1881. The current lifestation has been sitting on the Ohio River at the dock on end of 4th Street since 1929. These floating survival units exist to help save river travelers from going over the falls. That may not seem like a big worry, but the current and the rapids can easily pull a boat off course.
3. Old State House in Frankfort
This building was built in 1827 and became the capital building for our state from 1830 to 1910. The Greek Revival style was popular in the day, and Gideon Shryock created the design. It is said he chose the Greek style to create a symbolic link between the ancient Grecians and Kentucky’s young democratic government. It was created like the Temple of Minerva Polias at Priene.
2. Shakertown at Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg
From 1805 to around 1910 this was a very active Shaker community. It is now a historic part of the community representing the way Shakers lived. The town is listed as a National Historic Landmark and gives us a beautiful view of what life was like in the 1800s, thanks to the well preserved buildings and tools.
1. Mammoth Cave
This is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the United States and a great historic landmark. This location is recognized as a tourist attraction, second only to Niagara Falls. This was a safe haven for Natives as they hunted the lands long before Europeans arrived. Now it is a favored attraction for us to take a look at the present, and the echoes left from the past.
There are those that feel the past is the past, but the struggles Kentuckians dealt with throughout history are worth remembering. What are your favorite historical landmarks in Kentucky?