Virtual Travel – Kentucky

Today’s visit is to Kentucky, and the vast horse culture that exists there. But there is far more to Kentucky than horses.

The first map in our journey dates from 1942. Interestingly the state highway map  was contained in a booklet that gave tourist information based on the roads of the day.

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The most famous of these roads was the Dixie Highway. Originally part of the National Auto Trail system in the very early 1900, the Dixie Highway modeled itself after the Lincoln Highway in that private promoters lead the effort to build it.

When the federal government took over the route it was assign along U.S. 25 through most of Kentucky. The route was dotted with motels and restaurants for the travelers headed from the Midwest to Florida. When the interstates came along I-75 replaced it.

(photo from Pintrest)

336 Best Louisville, KY! My home! images in 2020 | Louisville ...

 

 

 

1947 – A Mountain Road.

Much of Eastern Kentucky is in the Appalachian Mountains. This is coal country, with winding roads going up and down the mountains.

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1960 – Another mountain overlook.

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The mountains make numerous appearances on the cover of the map. Left to right – 1997 – 1986 – 2015.

 

Today the vast majority of the roads are still twisty two lane routes.

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Appalachia has had tough times for decades now, with most of the population long ago heading north for jobs in factories. Today few coal mines still exist, most have closed leaving relics behind.

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Kentucky is horse country. It is estimated that nearly 100,000 jobs in Kentucky depend on horses. It is the number 1 producer of thoroughbreds in the nation.

This fact is celebrated on numerous map covers including this 1945 map.

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Horse Farms were also featured in 1968, 1988, 1989 and 2007.

 

In 2019 we had the opportunity to visit Claiborne Farms near Paris, Kentucky. The horses are beautiful, and the grounds immaculate.

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Bridges

This 1949 map features Eggner’s Ferry Bridge. This bridge was completed in 1932, and decommissioned in 2016. A new 4 lane bride has replaced it.

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With the Ohio River bordering the entire northern side of Kentucky there are a number of impressive bridges linking the state to it’s neighbors.

The new cable stayed bridge at Owensboro was featured in 2003.

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Louisville – Second Street Bridge, also known as the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge.

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Covington (to Cincinnati) – Roebling Bridge.

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Maysville. Simon Kenton Bridge – Completed in 1931.

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1955 – Kentucky Colonel.

More than just chicken, a Kentucky Colonel is an actual title of honor that the governor of the state can issue to individuals.

Prior to the 1930s very few people were made Kentucky Colonels, but the governor of the time greatly accelerated the number including one Harland Sanders – hence the name of the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

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To this day if you find yourself in Corbin, Kentucky you can stop by the original Sanders Cafe for some fried chicken. (photo from tripadvisor.com)

Birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken in Corbin, Kentucky ...

 

 

For the mid 1960s Kentucky still showed their southern side with a lawn jockey and a plantation house being featured.

 

 

 

1966 – Daniel Boone. Boone was born in Pennsylvania and spent a great deal of time in Virginia before arriving in Kentucky. It was here his actions became lore.

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The 1970s featured the Kentucky Parkways. The state was ahead of their times in building additional freeways to augment the interstates that were in the state. They did this in the form of toll roads.

Despite the names the Parkways do not prohibit truck traffic.

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Horse Race Trumpeter – 1973, 1974 & 1975

In the days before electronic amplification they had to have a way to notify the jockeys it was time to come to the starting gate, hence the trumpeter. The song they play is called ‘First Call’, a military march.

Santa Anita Trumpeter

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Churchill Downs Trumpeter

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1979 – Man o War

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When people make a list of the greatest race horses of all time there are really only two, Secretariat and Man o War. Secretariat is Man o War’s grandson.

How good was Secretariat. He still holds records 40 years later. The photo below from the legendary Belmont that he won by 31 lengths!

A Tremendous Machine: Secretariat in the Belmont | America's Best ...

 

Man o War was just as impressive. In 1920 he was co-athlete of the year with Babe Ruth

Article Image

 

Man o War has a statue at the Kentucky Horse Park

Man O' War Racehorse Statue in Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington ...

 

Seretariat’s statue is at Keeneland.

Secretariat Statue @The Racing Hall of Fame | Horses, Beautiful ...

 

Both are representative of the best of Kentucky Horse Racing. Along with the great thoroughbreds are great tracks.

The two best are Churchill Downs in Louisville and Keeneland in Lexington.

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Keeneland

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1982, 1983 and 1983 – State Parks. While they look very similar there are slight variations to the covers.

 

2013 and 2017 returned to the parks.

 

Kentucky has a number of nice state parks with lodges. This is Cumberland Falls Park Lodge.

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1992 – Kentucky Bicentennial

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1998 – Cumberland Gap & Tunnel

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The Cumberland Gap is a pass in the Appalachian Mountains, at the point where Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee come together.

It was the first primary route over the mountains for the early settlers. For millenia bison had used the pass to make their way back and forth for feeding. The folklore of Daniel Boone was enhanced by his effort to blaze a trail through the mountains.

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Today a twin tube tunnel makes the pass much easier to traverse. Each tunnel is 4600′ long.

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The Cumberland Gap National Park has some very scenic overlooks.

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2000 – Scenic Byways

 

There are 10 Scenic Byways in Kentucky.  These byways take you to the less traveled parts of the state for some unique sights like…

Nada Tunnel. That small hole in the bottom of the hill is indeed a tunnel for auto traffic.

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2004 – Paris Pike. This stretch of highway was a very dangerous 2 lane road. When the decision was made to expand to 4 lanes the Department of Transportation worked with many to come up with an aesthetically pleasing but functional road.

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The road leads from Lexington to Paris. The town of Paris is the center of the thoroughbred farms. It is a very picturesque town, complete with a mini Eiffel Tower.

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2005 – State Capitol

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The State Capitol is in the small town of Frankfort. The current Capitol was completed in 1909.

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The grounds are very well groomed and include a floral clock.

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The former capitol is down in the middle of town.

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Just outside of town are some bourbon distilleries that were built more than 100 years ago, shuttered, and recently re-opened. It makes for a very cool environment.

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Nearby is the city of Lexington, home of the University of Kentucky.

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The city is home to a vast array of murals, some of the best we have seen.

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2006 – Cumberland Falls

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2008 – Lincoln in Kentucky

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2009 & 2010 – Equestrian Games

 

 

2011 – Corvette Museum

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The Corvette Museum is in Bowling Green.

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2014 – Old Friends Retirement Home. While some race horses live a pampered life being set out to stud, many do not. In 2003 Boston Globe movie critic Michael Blowen lead an effort to open this farm for retired race horses.

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2016 – Mammoth Caves

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The longest cave system in the country, Mammoth Cave has more than 400 miles of surveyed passageways. Photo from tourist website as I am terrible with cave photography.

Mammoth Cave: An Underground Attraction That Sparked a War in ...

 

 

2018 – Culinary Trail. The most famous culinary trail in Kentucky is the Bourbon Trail.

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While we didn’t do the entire trail we did tour the Jim Beam Distillery.

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This storage facility burnt in a fire in 2019.

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Favorites of 2019

A great year of sights – these are my favorite 30 photos of 2019, with brief explanations why they are my favorites.

Chicago – Willis (Sears) Tower. The perspective of people out of their elements.





Washington – The former Capital Columns in the Arboretum. The morning lighting with the wildflowers and contrast of the columns.





Washington – Embassy Open House Day – and a young lady’s perfect timing next to their logo.





Near Frankfurt, Kentucky – I have a thing about old, seemingly abandoned buildings. This however had been reclaimed and re-used for it’s original purpose – bourbon storage and aging.





New Orleans – Mardis Gras World. It was like stepping into some psychedelic movie.





Avery Island, Louisiana – The symmetry of the rice fields with another old building.





Houston – The home of quirky art. This is from Lucky Land, a very cool place.





Houston quirky art part 2 – Giant President Heads.





San Antonio mission. Symmetry and historic architecture.





Amarillo, Texas – Cadillac Ranch, but after a storm where they appeared to be in a pond.





Columbus Zoo and a zoom lens. The statement in the face and amazing beauty of the animals.









Montreal – Ferris Wheel in Old Montreal – Perfect timing and lighting (just lucky on the timing).





Marietta, Ohio – Sternwheeler festival.





Chicago – Open House and another fantastic ceiling/light.





Buenos Aires – obviously the extended period spent in Argentina has opened a new world of photo possibilities. Recoleta Cemetery is the most popular tourist spot in the city, and I had the good fortune of some young lady there for (I suspect) a photo shoot when she ran by the row I was in, turned and posed for me! Who doesn’t want a photo of a young lady running through a cemetery with a knife.




Recoleta Cemetery provides so many great shots – the cob webs are natural, not staged.




The tomb of San Martin.





The La Boca neighborhood is known as a working class neighborhood in love with their team – La Boca juniors. The old car symbolizes the working class neighborhood and it was parked in front of the soccer practice fields with their bright colors on the walls.






Chacarita Cemetery is not as famous as Recoleta, but still a very stunning place.





The sunrises and sunsets can be amazing.









An hour drive out of town to San Antonio de Areco, and their gaucho festival was the event of the year. 4000 people and horses dressed for the occasion.





The Jacaranda trees are fantastic in bloom.






On a walking tour of street art the passer by’s sometimes fit the theme.






The Casa Rosada. A great courtyard and a bemused guard.










Hockey in Argentina – bring that soccer passion inside and combine it with hockey.





Finally – Bariloche, a beautiful mountain and lakes region.





Across America – May 2019 – Random Scenes Part 2

Central Tennessee – Bus Graveyard







Northern Alabama – Rock Zoo





Scottsboro, Alabama – Did you ever lose your luggage on an airplane and never get it back. It likely ended up here, as they buy all of the unclaimed luggage from the airlines and sell it in essentially a thrift store.





Pawhuska, Oklahoma



Bartlesville, Oklahoma – Phillips 66 Petroleum Company Headquarters







Vinita, Oklahoma – Will Rogers Rodeo



Eastern Oklahoma – Pensacola Dam. A mile long and releasing a lot of water because of the recent rains.





Joplin, Missouri – America’s 2nd largest truck stop.



Southern Missouri – Presumed dead armadillo



Somewhere else in Southern Missouri – Coke Machine Graveyard



Scenes around Cairo, Illinois – At the confluence of the Ohio River and Mississippi River – with flooding.











Evansville, Indiana – Restored Greyhound Bus Station, now a hipster hamburger place. Manhattan prices in small town Indiana.

The interior looked nothing like a bus station.



Evansville, Indiana – County Courthouse



Scenes around Louisville, Kentucky







And after 3 weeks of running around the country – back in Ohio (in Cincinnati). Only 2 hours to home.






Cumberland Plateau, Kentucky & Tennessee – May 2019 – Waterfall Tour

The Cumberland Plateau is situated just west of the Appalachian Mountains, running from Kentucky through Tennessee and into Alabama.

The area has a number of highlights including this natural bridge in southern Kentucky.



The Cumberland Falls is the most famed natural feature of southern Kentucky. They claim to have the 2nd most volume of water for a waterfalls in the eastern United States (a far second to Niagara Falls).



From below the rush of the water is impressive.



Just south of Byrdstown, Tennessee is the Obey River Recreation Area.



Cummins Falls is a 75′ high waterfall on the Blackburn Fork River in Jackson County, Tennessee. This waterfall has two options for viewing – one is the overlook seen here. The second is to go down to the river and wade for 1/2 mile in the river to get to the waterfalls. Because of high water conditions (and not being prepared for wading waist high in water), we opted for the overlook view only.



Burgess Falls is on the aptly named Falling Water River in east central Tennessee. This remains of an old bridge crosses the river just above the series of waterfalls.



There are some cascades before you arrive at this falls, nearly 80′ high.



But the main Burgess Falls is this impressive 136′ drop into the ravine.



Not far from Burgess Falls is Falls Creek Falls. It is the highest free fall waterfall east of the Mississippi, dropping an impressive 256′.



A closer view of the top.



A robust hike into the ravine gives a totally different perspective.



Within the same park is this nice cliff and small falls.



Also in Tennessee is the Rock Island State Park. It has a number of features including this falls along the Caney Fork.



This falls once powered this historic cotton mill.



The Caney Fork continues down. Depending on the release of water from the dam it can look like those, or be totally submersed in water.



The highlight of the Rock Island State Park are the Great Falls. Here it appears the entire hillside is the waterfalls, with water seemingly coming from everywhere along the hillside.



This closeup of the smaller cascade portion show the beauty of the falls.



Finally we had a bonus waterfalls early in the morning in Tullahoma, Tennessee. The Rutledge Falls is on a church’s property but they welcome visitors to come check them out.





Frankfort, Kentucky – May 2019 – Bourbon Valley

A narrow valley south of Frankfort, Kentucky was the home of a couple of bourbon distilleries for more than 100 years. In the 1970s they closed.



Their remnants remained unused in this valley for 40 year.



Nature was taking over.




But recently two startup distilleries have moved back into some of the buildings and began bourbon making again. One took over the Old Taylor facility, whose office building looked like a castle.



They have named their bourbon Castle & Key. More on the ‘key’ in a moment, but you can see where the Castle portion came from.



They have invested significant amounts of money into the facility.



The steam towers remain but unused.



There is a great mix of old and new.



The ‘key’ portion comes from their water source – which inside is shaped like a keyhole.



The control for the small dam still functions.



Overall it is a great location for bourbon making.



The massive 4 floor aging warehouse is once again in use.



Just up the road is Glenn’s Creek – another bourbon maker who took over an old abandoned facility.



Tours of bourbon distilleries is a very big tourist business in Kentucky, and there are no settings better than here.





Frankfort, Kentucky – May 2019 – A Small Capital City

Even though Kentucky is middle of the pack in terms of states by population , their capital city Frankfort is the 4th smallest of all. There are less than 30,000 people in the city.



For the most part it feels like any other small town. They have a small downtown business district.



Interestingly there is a freight rail line going down the middle of main street.



The town is quite old – it was established in 1786.



There are a few restaurants and coffee shops in town.



In the center of town is the Old Kentucky State Capitol. It was completed in 1830 and used until 1910 as the Capitol.


William Goebel was elected governor in 1900, and served for 4 days before being assassinated. He was known for being a deal maker, and a deal breaker.

He had gained so many enemies that he walked with bodyguards, but to no avail – On January 30, 1900 shots fired from the state capitol building – leading to chaos in the Kentucky state government. He died 4 days later.



As you drive around town you see an interesting mix of old and new, with nearly all the new being the government buildings.



The lampposts have banners celebrating famous Kentuckians – while Johnny Depp was born in Kentucky he was raised elsewhere



We are in Kentucky so we need to celebrate horse racing.



Much like many of the state government buildings, the county courthouse is modern as well.



The original state arsenal however, is not. It dates from 1850 and now serves as a military museum.



Across the river and up a hill is the ‘new’ state capitol grounds. Included here is the Governor’s Mansion – which in it’s Beaux Arts style bears a strong resemblance to the White House.


The new capitol building was completed in 1910.



The grounds look back down upon the town.


An additional annex building is located behind the capitol.


One of the most famous attractions is the floral clock that spells out Kentucky – although without a rise to view it from above it is tricky to see.

Frankfort seems an unusual place to have the state capitol, but politics often leads to unusual deals.




Lexington, Kentucky – May 2019 – A Damp Quiet Morning at Keeneland

Keeneland Race Course is located just to the west of Lexington. It is known as one of the most beautiful facilities in the country.


Much like Claiborne Farms everything is done in an understated, but in a posh way.


The stables area are well kept, albeit somewhat quiet on this cool, damp morning.


There was some activity as the horses wait for no man.


At Keeneland the horses always have the right of way.


There is a practice track in addition to the main track.


Returning from the stable area we passed by the library.


A view of the main drive through the facility.


Most of the primary buildings are built from stone.


While this gate was closed, others were open. The styling keeps with the simple elegance.


I am not certain if a Rolex clock keeps better time, but it fits the environment.


The jockeys quarters near the main track.


The entrance to the paddock is closely guarded on race days.


Even the paddock has a nice stone wall surrounding it.


A collection of small statues display the silk colors for some of the major farms.


The main grandstands. This isn’t your county fairgrounds.



Inside the grandstands they had a horse shoe display – Nikes for Thoroughbreds.


A track side view of the main grandstands.


The morning fog gave a surreal feeling to the track.


The finish line – the ‘dirt’ track is in the foreground, the turf track is just behind it.


Attending major sporting events are always a great time, but sometimes the best photography is when nobody is there.





Lexington, Kentucky – May 2019 – Scenes of the City

Two things are important in Lexington – horse racing and bourbon!




Even some of the public art – including giant sculptures of books often depicts horse racing.


A number of artistic horse sculptures are scattered around town.

A downtown sculpture area is called Thoroughbred Park – depicting the finish line in great detail.


The best ‘ghost sign’ in town is for Horse Racing Oats.

But there is more to Lexington that just horses and bourbon – there is the University of Kentucky, and their stunning library.



For a city this far off the east coast there are a number of early 1800 or older buildings and homes.



A former courthouse is now the main visitor center – as well as other civic offices.



The area has been growing, and there is evidence of new investments downtown with government buildings and plazas.



The main library is newer as well, and features this 5 story pendulum clock – reputed to be the largest in the world.



We visited Transylvnia University and an art fair that was occurring there. The college was the first institution of higher learning west of the Allegheny Mountains. It is named for the Transylvania Colony – a proposed 14th colony that never really came to be – but the university name stuck.




Our final stop was the arboretum shared by the University of Kentucky and the city of Lexington. On this spring day there were a number of groups using the setting for their backdrops – homecoming groups, weddings, engages, and others…




Our final stop was a memorial to 49 people who lost their lives in a commuter airline crash in 2006. They are represented by 49 birds in flight.

For a mid sized city Lexington has a lot to offer – a good place to spend a day or two.






Lexington, Kentucky – May 2019 – Mural City

The city of Lexington, Kentucky like many cities has some murals around town. Unlike anywhere we have ever seen, they seem to have them everywhere – and most are very well done.

In addition they aren’t all the traditional history based murals – rather many have artistic statements. Below is an extensive view of many of the murals – if you are interested in more details behind them I recommend checking out the two links below:

http://www.lexarts.org/participate/public-art/lmp/ using the hashtag #sharethelex

or
http://www.prhbtn.com/murals/

We spent a few hours on a mural scavenger hunt and found most of them. This posting is quite long with around 40 photos in it.






































Paris, Kentucky – May 2019 – Claiborne Farms

Our day in Paris continued with a ride in ‘Horse Country’. Central Kentucky is the center of thoroughbred horse racing in America, and Paris is the heart of that center. Numerous well known farms surround the town.



We had booked a tour at the most famous one – Claiborne Farms.



Six of the 13 Triple Crown winners were sired at the farm. In addition to these, numerous other Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes winners came from here.



Everything about the farm is first class, but not gaudy. It is done right, but not tacky – sort of the August National of Thoroughbred farms.



The stalls for the stallions are immaculate. And for good reason, they generate the revenue



The most legendary stallion is War Front. Other farms bring mares from all over the world to mate with War Front. The cost for doing this (which takes 15 minutes) is $250,000. War Front brings in $20 million a year in stud fees.

As the guide told us – in reality War Front signs their paychecks. But he earns his money as he has 3 ‘sessions’ a day for 6 months.



But there are others as well that can earn into 6 figures for their services.



Kyle is not just a tour guide, he has a degree from the University of Kentucky in Equine Science and Management.



What do these multi-million dollar animals like – peppermint candy!



All of the studs at the farm are major winners during their 2 and 3 year old years, before moving over to their new career for the rest of their lives (which is usually around 20-25 years)



Still they act like puppies, chewing at their leads and generally playing around.



They are beautifully maintained.



Others in their stalls want attention and peppermint candy as well.


The horse Blame was quite the character!



They have a horse cemetery with some of the most noted in their history buried there including the legendary Secretariat.

Clairborne Farms is a fascinating place. Kyle was a great guide, giving significant detail into the workings of the farm, and how they care for their horses – and will continue to do things ‘the right way’ and ‘old school’ for the best for the horses.




In keeping with the morning we had lunch at the nearby Horseshoes Kentucky Grill.



The interior was decked out in racing memorabilia.