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, Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a
commonwealth (the others being
Massachusetts). Originally a part of
Virginia, in 1792 Kentucky 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."
. The population was 22,542 at the 2000 census. Hardin County was established in 1793 and named for Colonel John Hardin, an Indian fighter who had been killed by Native Americans while on a peace mission with tribes in Ohio. It did not take long for the settlement to become an active community. In just a few years, professional men and tradesmen came to live in the area. In 1793, Colonel Hynes had thirty acres of land surveyed and laid off into lots and streets to establish Elizabethtown. Named in honor of the wife of Andrew Hynes, Elizabethtown was legally established on July 4, 1797.
On December 27, 1862, General
John Hunt Morgan and his 3,000-man cavalry attacked Elizabethtown. During the battle more than 100 cannon balls were fired into the town. Although he successfully captured Elizabethtown, his goal was to disrupt the railroad. He proceeded north along the route of the railroad burning trestles and destroying sections of the track. After the battle, one cannon ball was lodged in the side of a building on the Public Square.
The town is regionally referred to as "E-town." It is notable as one of two larger towns (the other being
Bowling Green) along
Nashville. The movie
2005) was named after the town, even though the majority of the movie was filmed in
Versailles and Louisville because Elizabethtown has lost most of its historic buildings in recent years due to development and sprawl.
Did you know...
- ... that the
Confederate Monument (pictured) in
Murray, Kentucky, is the only
Civil War Monument in Kentucky to prominently feature
Robert E. Lee?
- ... that in 1785, all men between 16 and 50, who were not ministers, were required to help build
Cobblestone Path or be subject to a fine?
- ... that
Cherokee State Park, now part of
Kenlake State Resort Park, was the first
blacks-only state park in the
Southern United States?
- ... that during the
Battle of New Haven, the fort the
howitzer aimed at was not damaged, but the town's only hotel and bar were?
- ... that the
Milton-Madison Bridge, which carries
U.S. Route 421 across the
Ohio River, is considered structurally poor and unable to handle modern truck traffic?
- ... that the
Nancy Lincoln Inn was once deemed an "unacceptable adjacent commercialization" to the
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace N.H.S.?
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." --
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest
is a 14,000 acre (57 km²)
, forest, and nature preserve located in
). It was founded in 1929 by
Isaac Wolfe Bernheim
, a German immigrant and successful brewer whose whiskey distillery business established the I.W. Harper brand. He purchased the land in 1928 at $1 an acre because most of it had been stripped for mining iron ore.
The property includes a 240-acre (0.97 km²) arboretum containing over 1,900 labeled
cultivars of trees, shrubs, and other plants. The arboretum includes over 185 cultivars of American
holly species. Other major collections include
conifers (including dwarf conifers),
dogwoods. Specific attractions within the arboretum include the sun and shade trail, quiet garden, and garden pavilion.
Richard Mentor Johnson
(October 17, 1780 – November 19, 1850) was the ninth
Vice President of the United States
, serving in the administration of
Martin Van Buren
. He was the only vice-president ever elected by the
United States Senate
under the provisions of the
. Johnson also represented
U.S. House of Representatives
and Senate and began and ended his political career in the
Kentucky House of Representatives
During his tenure in Congress, Johnson became affiliated with the War Hawks, a group of legislators who clamored for action against the British for the
impressment of American sailors. Congress approved war with the British in June 1812, and immediately following the adjournment of the session, Johnson returned to Kentucky where he raised a force of three hundred volunteers. The volunteers divided themselves into three
companies and chose Johnson as their leader, granting him the rank of
major. When Johnson's men consolidated with another
battalion, Johnson was chosen to lead the entire group and was given the rank of colonel. The combined force began a march to Upper Canada, but on learning of the surrender of
William Hull at the
Battle of Detroit, the battalion turned and patrolled
Indian lines, preventing their advance into American frontier settlements.
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