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Blue Licks – From Prehistoric Springs to Revolutionary

Relax at Rough River


Blue Licks – From Prehistoric Springs to Revolutionary

“I worked at the Pioneer Museum for 31 years,” says Louella Moore, who retired in 2007 from the museum located at Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park in Robertson and Nicholas counties. “If I hadn’t been there 31 years, 31 years of my life would have been wasted.”

Mrs. Moore, or Miss Lou as she is known, is as treasured by those who worked with her and visited the museum built during the Depression era as the items in the museum that narrate the story of Blue Licks.

“Miss Lou is very much loved by anyone who�s ever met her,” says park naturalist Paul Tierney. She is so highly regarded that, with the museum’s $150,000 renovation completed in 2007, the entire downstairs gallery was named after her: The Miss Louella Moore Changing Exhibits and Presentation Area.

“The Pioneer Museum has always been a place for people to find artifacts relating to the area and the story,” says Tierney, “but it never did a great job telling the story. What the renovation has done is outline the story as it revolves around the springs that were once so plentiful here.

“Most people don’t think about a geologic feature like that having so much importance, but everything you read and see at the museum revolves around these springs.”

The story unfolds with the 1782 Battle of Blue Licks–what some historians have called the “Last Battle of the American Revolution,” waged primarily because of the springs, which ultimately dried up in the late 19th century.

“Animals came to the springs, Native Americans followed the animals, and Europeans followed the Native Americans,” says Tierney. “Eventually you have a conflict. The culmination: The Battle of Blue Licks.”

Several key artifacts put the exclamation point on the battle’s narration: 18th-century weapons, including a British Brown Bess rifle; a three-dimensional diorama with minute-by-minute descriptions of the battle; and an officer’s button, found in Ontario, Canada, that may have belonged to Captain William Caldwell of the Butler’s Rangers, the British loyalist militia unit that fought at Blue Licks.

The museum and the story it tells are significant for Kentuckians in particular.

Says Tierney: “Many of Kentucky’s political leaders were killed at the Battle of Blue Licks. It took what was to become Kentucky a long time to recuperate. We don’t become a state until 1792.”

In 1976, Miss Lou’s story intersects with that of her beloved museum. And like the personal effects that connect to those who lived during the Battle era, it is the people who made Miss Lou’s experience so memorable.

“It’s the people–the nice people that come in to see the museum, the employees who just couldn’t be better,” says the Mt. Olivet resident, a Kentucky Colonel, and recipient of seven awards during her tenure, including employee of the year.

Miss Lou says that the Pioneer Room, her favorite exhibit, is always a crowd-pleaser. She is quick to point out, however, that visitors should explore all the displays, including video presentation, mastodon bones, and Native American artifacts.

DESTINATIONS

Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park
Highway 68
Mt. Olivet, KY 41064
(800) 443-7008
www.parks.ky.gov/findparks/resortparks/bl
Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park has a lodge with 32 rooms, including two suites, two 2-bedroom executive cottages perched on the Licking River, and 51 campsites with utility hookups. The park offers several hiking trails, 18-hole miniature golf, Pioneer Museum, swimming pool, and picnicking and playground areas.

Hidden Waters Restaurant is known for its Southern cuisine, like Southern-fried catfish and country ham, which is cured and produced by a Kentucky Proud supplier.

Pioneer Museum
Follow the timeline of the history of Blue Licks at the Pioneer Museum at Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park. This summer, a number of new events will be featured, including Battlefield walks and children’s hands-on activities. Museum admission: $3.50 ages 13 and older; $2.50 ages 5-12; free for those under 5. Museum hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., daily.

Battle of Blue Licks Re-enactment
On August 16-17, the anniversary of the Battle of Blue Licks will be marked with re-enactments, 18th-century traders, food vendors, music, and a pioneer encampment. The $5 per person admission includes parking, the battle re-enactment, and access to all areas of the park, including the miniature golf course, swimming area, and the Pioneer Museum.

Holiday Dinner Theatre
Holiday Dinner Theatre will be held December 12-13 at Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park. This year’s production is the After Dark Mystery Show with magician John Shore. Dinner/show package: $29.95 adults, $14.95 children, $5.95 children under age 6. An overnight package that includes dinner theater and accommodations for two adults is $109.

Kathy Witt is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.

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Relax at Rough River

With gas prices accelerating by the day, in-state weekend getaways are becoming increasingly popular choices for those looking to share some family fun, celebrate a romantic occasion, enjoy the outdoors, or just have some peace and solitude.

Grayson County offers opportunities for any of these desires close to home in central Kentucky with the beautiful 5,000-acre Rough River Lake.

Open year-round, Rough River State Resort Park is by far the largest venue, with 67 breathtaking miles of shoreline in Grayson, Hardin, and Breckinridge counties, along with 637 acres of park that offers camping, hiking, fishing, boating, golfing, swimming, and wakeboarding. If arriving by air, there’s a small airport on the grounds and a special air camp for aviators.

A free fireworks display over the lake will be held July 5 this year at dusk around 9 p.m. Other scheduled activities year-round for park visitors, campers, and the community include a dulcimer weekend, pottery demonstrations, live music, square dancing, magicians, wildlife programs, games, and arts and crafts.

The resort park is located in Falls of Rough and is accessible from Western Kentucky Parkway, exit 107, in Leitchfield.

Grayson County has two official state events to its name–one being the Official Kentucky State Championship Old Time Fiddlers Contest at Rough River SRP, July 18-19. With more than $5,000 in prize money at stake, categories include harmonica, banjo, dulcimer, flat top guitar, and fiddlers from the youngest “pee wee” levels to seasoned senior fiddlers.

The town of Clarkson is all abuzz September 26-28 during the Official Kentucky State Clarkson Honey Festival, www.honeyfest.com, with people swarming to pay tribute to the area’s honey industry connections, including the Walter T. Kelley Beehive Factory, one of the largest manufacturers of honey and beekeeping supplies nationwide. The event was designated the official state honey festival by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2006.

On U.S. 62 between Leitchfield and Millwood in Grayson County, you’ll find Calvin Ray’s Live Music, www.calvinrayslivemusic.com, (270) 879-0582. On Saturday nights, the Blue Moon Highway Band and other special guests entertain visitors, who can also enjoy a meal in the restaurant or a trip around the dance floor. A bluegrass festival is also held in August at the Grayson County Agriculture & Recreation Park.

Grayson County Tourism Commission Director Ilsa Johnson says another popular area festival is the K-105 Ice Cream Festival, July 11-12 in Leitchfield, with free ice cream, rides, food, and fireworks.

Grayson County is home to a skatepark, (270) 259-2735, and Blackrock Moto Cross, (270) 259-5960, www.blackrockmotorcross.com, which draws dirt bike and four-wheeler enthusiasts to compete. If you prefer two-wheeled transportation, the area is crisscrossed with a variety of bicycle-friendly trails and hosts an annual R.A.C.K. bicycle tour across central Kentucky–it’s August 3 this year.

“I think that for any age on the weekend if you want to get away, anyone can find something to do here,” Johnson says.

DESTINATIONS

Rough River State Resort Park, (800) 325-1713, is about 18 miles from Leitchfield, 450 Lodge Road, Falls of Rough. Camping, lodge, and cottage accommodations available. Recreation includes camping, hiking, fishing, boating, swimming in the pool or at the public beach, and golfing. For more information, go online to www.parks.ky.gov/findparks/resortparks/rr.

K-105 Ice Cream Festival, Leitchfield, behind Grayson County Middle School, July 11-12, swimming, beauty pageant, carnival rides, fireworks, antique car show, and free ice cream. Call (888) 624-9951 for more information.

Official Kentucky State Championship Old Time Fiddlers Contest, www.kentuckyfiddler.com, Rough River State Resort Park, July 18-19. Admission $6 Fri./$10 Sat., children 10 and under free. Free parking.

Official Kentucky State Clarkson Honey Festival, www.honeyfest.com, Clarkson, September 26-28, parade, honey, carnival rides, crafts, pageant.

For more information about area attractions, go online to Grayson County Tourism Commission at www.graysoncountytourism.com or call (888) 624-9951.

Please note Grayson County is in the Central Time Zone.

Area Attractions
Nolin Lake State Park, 2998 Briar Creek Road, Mammoth Cave, features a campground (closed mid-November through mid-March) and 5,795-acre lake, perfect for boating or fishing. Ten paved boat ramps are situated along 200 miles of shoreline in Grayson, Edmonson, and Hart counties. Country store at main lodge, and picnic facilities available. For information, visit www.parks.ky.gov/findparks/recparks/nl or call (270) 286-4240.

Five Mile Flea Market, October 11-12, Highway 54, Falls of Rough. Call (888) 624-9951.

Shannon Leonard-Boone is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.

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