Kentucky ( (
kən-TUK-ee), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a
state located in the
east south-central region of the
United States. Although styled as the "State of Kentucky" in the law creating it, (because in Kentucky's first constitution, the name state was used) Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a
commonwealth (the others being
Massachusetts). Originally a part of
Virginia, in 1792 Kentucky split from it and became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is the
37th most extensive and the
26th most populous of the
50 United States.
Kentucky is known as the "Bluegrass State", a nickname based on the
bluegrass found in many of its pastures due to the fertile soil. One of the major regions in Kentucky is the Bluegrass Region in central Kentucky, which houses two of its major cities,
Lexington. It is a land with diverse environments and abundant resources, including the world's longest cave system,
Mammoth Cave National Park, the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the
contiguous United States, and the two largest man-made lakes east of the
was the principal route used by settlers to reach
for more than fifty years. In 1775,
blazed a trail for the
into central Kentucky. It was later lengthened, following
trails, to reach the
Falls of the Ohio
. The Wilderness Road was steep and rough, and could only be traversed on foot or horseback. Despite the adverse conditions, thousands of people used it. In 1792, the new Kentucky legislature provided money to upgrade the road. In 1796, an improved all-weather road was opened for wagon and carriage travel. The road was abandoned around 1840, although modern highways follow much of its route.
Because of the threat of Native American attacks, the road was so dangerous that most pioneers traveled well armed. Robbers and criminals also could be found on the road, ready to pounce on weaker pioneers. Although the Transylvania Company had purchased the region from the Cherokee, and the
Iroquois had ceded it at the
Treaty of Fort Stanwix, other tribes, such as the Shawnee, still claimed it and lived there.
American Civil War, both the
Union Army and the
Confederate States Army used the Road. An early battle (
Camp Wildcat), stymied the first attempt by the Confederates to seize control of neutral Kentucky. The
Cumberland Gap changed hands four times throughout the war. The southern armies used the road for marches into Virginia. General
Ulysses S. Grant came down the road for the Union campaign in Tennessee in 1864. Grant was so taken by the Road that he said, "With two brigades of the
Army of the Cumberland I could hold that pass against the army which
led to Moscow."
Paducah is the
county seat of
McCracken County, located at the confluence of the
Tennessee River and the
Ohio River. The population was 26,307 at the
2000 census. Paducah is the largest city in the
Jackson Purchase Region of Western Kentucky. It is one of two cities named Paducah located in the United States. The other
Paducah is in the state of Texas, near the panhandle, and was named after Paducah, Kentucky. Originally called Pekin, it began around 1815 as a mixed community of
Native Americans and white
settlers who were attracted by its location at the confluence of many
According to legend, Chief Paduke, most likely a
Chickasaw, welcomed the people traveling down the
Tennessee on flatboats. His
wigwam, located on a low bluff at the mouth of Island Creek, served as the counsel lodge for his
village. The settlers, appreciative of his
hospitality, and respectful of his ways, settled across the creek. The two communities lived in
harmony trading goods and services enjoying the novelty of each other's
culture. The settlers had brought
mules which they used to pull the flatboats upstream to
trading posts and other
settlements along the waterways, establishing a primitive, but thriving
Did you know...
- ... that to defend
Indiana during the War of 1812, Governor
Harrison (pictured) had to recruit
militia from Kentucky as those from Indiana would not join the army?
- ... that the
Old L & N Station in
Bardstown, Kentucky, was
the state's only
- ... that the
Confederate Memorial in
Fulton, Kentucky is the only one in the state with a statue atop an
- ... that
Great Saltpetre Cave, which produced
saltpetre for the
War of 1812, was later used to film part of the 1997
Steven Seagal film
Fire Down Below?
- ... that the
Confederate Monument in
Owensboro, Kentucky was sculpted by a Hungarian?
- ... that
Wickland, namesake of
Wickland, was the home of three different U.S. state governors?
- ... that the Lexington Children's Theater was founded in 1938 and staged their first production "Noah's Flood" the following year.
Kentucky Official Symbols
On this day in Kentucky history...
"I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky." --
"I was brought up to believe that
Scotch whisky would need a tax preference to survive in competition with Kentucky
"Tough girls come from
New York. Sweet girls, they're from
Georgia. But us Kentucky girls, we have
ice in our
blood. We can ride
horses, be a
debutante, throw left hooks, and drink with the boys, all the while making
sweet tea, darlin'. And if we have an opinion, you know you're gonna hear it." --
"Soon after, I returned home to my family, with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise, at the risk of my life and fortune." --
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site
preserves two farm sites where
lived as a child.
In the fall of 1808, Thomas and Nancy Lincoln settled on Sinking Spring Farm. Today this site bears the address of 2995 Lincoln Farm Road,
Hodgenville, Kentucky. Two months later on February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in a one-room
log cabin. A cabin, symbolic of the one in which Lincoln was born, is preserved in a memorial building at the site. The Lincolns lived and farmed at Sinking Spring before moving to land a few miles away at Knob Creek, which is located a few miles to the northeast along
U.S. Highway 31.
John Hunt Morgan
(June 1, 1825 – September 4, 1864) was a
officer in the
American Civil War
. He led 2,460 troops in a daring raid, called
, racing past Union lines into
in July 1863. This was the farthest north any uniformed Confederate troops penetrated during the war.
Morgan and his cavalrymen fought at the
Battle of Shiloh and he soon became a symbol to
secessionists in their hopes for obtaining Kentucky for the Confederacy. A Louisiana writer, Robert D. Patrick, compared Morgan to
Francis Marion and wrote that "a few thousands of such men as his would regain us Kentucky and Tennessee."
He unnerved Kentucky's
Union military government and
President Lincoln received so many frantic appeals for help that he complained that "they are having a stampede in Kentucky."
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