During the mid-1750s, Mary Draper Ingles wrote the greatest captivity story
in Appalachian history. The Shawnee took her from her home in Draper Meadows (now
West Virginia) and carried her to the Indian towns near what is now Cincinnati.
She was part of a group taken to Big Bone Lick to make salt. While there, she
escaped, and walked back home. Mary followed the rivers back to Draper Meadows-an
estimated distance of 750 miles. Much of that trip took place in Kentucky.
There were no bridges or fords in those days. Every stream and river had
to be followed far inland until a crossing could be found, then followed back
downstream to the Ohio, all the while foraging for food and trying to avoid recapture.
It took her months to get to the West Virginia border, a trip you can make today
in a couple of hours. But if you do, you will miss some great sites and attractions.
Indeed, a week might not be enough time to see it all. A weekend only leaves time
for some highlights.
To retrace Mary Ingles’ route, start at Big Bone Lick State Park, near
Union. A museum, life-sized diorama, and hiking trails interpret this special
geologic region, and you can view the last free-flowing salt spring. It was these
springs that attracted the prehistoric animals to the site. Their remaining bones
gave the park its name.
Be sure, too, to see the newly established buffalo herd. Buffalo once roamed the
Bluegrass, but were wiped out by hunters before the turn of the 19th century.
Leaving the park, follow Route 338 west to the Ohio River and turn north
to Rabbit Hash, an old-time general store and river town. The entire village is
owned by Alexis Scott and her brother Brandon, who bought it about three years
ago and are slowly restoring the remaining buildings. In the general store you’ll
find numerous handmade crafts. Some of the outbuildings are ready for viewing
From Rabbit Hash you can connect with Route 20 and follow it, with the
river on your left, to Covington. Known as the Gateway to the Bluegrass, there
are numerous museums and attractions in town. MainStrasse Village, a restored
19th-century German neighborhood, is a don’t-miss site. Antique shops, boutiques,
and restaurants abound in the five-block-long village. Be sure to see the Goose
Girl Fountain in the center of the village. It commemorates the Grimm Brothers’
Goose Girl fairy tale.
While every stream and creek was a problem for Mary Ingles (who couldn’t
swim), the Licking River was a major obstacle. It took her days of trudging deep
into the Bluegrass before she could find a crossing, and long days more back to
the river. You might not even notice it as you cross the concrete bridge linking
Covington with Newport.
One of the newest attractions is the Newport Aquarium. It’s worth a visit,
but be warned-it isn’t cheap. A family of four can drop fifty bucks or more in
a heartbeat, once parking and lunch are factored in.
Pick up Route 8 out of Newport. It follows the river in the exact footprints
of Mary Ingles. Fairly soon you’ll reach the Meldahl Lock & Dam. Pause to
look at it, because nothing points out the differences between Ms. Ingles’ trip
and your own as much as these engineering works. Until the early part of this
century, you could, most times of the year, wade from Kentucky to Ohio. No longer.
The locks and dams made the river fully navigable, and no longer dependent on
rainfall for its flow.
A few miles from the dam is Augusta, whose picturesque 19th-century façade
and lack of a seawall have made it the perfect choice for several movies. There
are numerous bed and breakfast inns in Augusta, and you might want to stop here
for the night. And the Beehive Tavern is one of the finest restaurants in northern
Kentucky. Augusta, by the way, is the birthplace of Rosemary Clooney, and her
home is still there.
Just a short drive from Augusta is Maysville, and just up the hill, Old
Washington. Both founded by Simon Kenton, they played a major role in early Kentucky
history. You can spend days exploring these two towns. But if you can only visit
one site, we recommend the Underground Railroad Museum in downtown Maysville.
It commemorates Kentucky’s role in that route to freedom.
Route 8 takes you through numerous small river towns, with names like Trinity,
Concord, Fire Brick, and South Shore, until you come to Greenup. Nearby is W-Hollow,
home of Kentucky’s great poet laureate Jesse Stuart. His beloved W-Hollow is now
a state nature preserve, and you can follow a hiking trail to the cabin where
he did much of his writing. The preserve protects these hills and hollows he immortalized
so lovingly in books such as Man With a Bull-Tongue Plow and Tales From the Plum
South of W-Hollow is Greenbo Lake State Resort Park, a jewel of a park that includes
a lodge and cabins, swimming pool, golf, and some of the best fishing in the area.
Return to the river and follow it east to Ashland-a city of many parts.
Stately historic homes, ancient Indian burial mounds, parks, museums, theaters,
and art galleries define this town perched on the banks of the Ohio River.
If nothing else, be sure and take the two-mile walking tour of the downtown
area, which includes the mansions and mounds of Central Park, Calvary Episcopal
Church, founded in 1888, and the restored Paramount Arts Center, housed in what
had been the first “talkie” theater in the Ohio Valley.
Mary Draper Ingles had only one desire-to never see the Ohio Valley again.
But like us, you’ll probably want to return again and again.
For more information, contact: Kentucky Department of Travel, 500 Mero
St. #22, Frankfort, KY 40601, 1-800-225-8747.
Day Trips and Short Stops
Remembering the Battle of Tebbs Bend
“Many of our best men were killed or wounded. It was a sad, sorrowful day.”
Thus did Confederate Major-and future Kentucky governor-James B. McCreary
describe the Battle of Tebbs Bend, along the banks of Green River, near Campbellsville
in July 1863.
It was the start of John Hunt Morgan’s aborted attempt to invade the north,
and eventually link up with Robert E. Lee. But outnumbered Union forces fought
Morgan to a standstill, and forced him to withdraw after heavy losses. Morgan’s
plans came to naught, and he was captured three weeks later.
The story of this raid and the Battle of Tebbs Bend is told in the Atkinson
Griffin House, now relocated at the Interpretive Center at Green River Lake State
Park. The double-pen log house, originally located across the highway, served
as a Confederate hospital during the battle. Bloodstains, still visible on the
upstairs floor, are mute testimony of the battle.
Inside the log house are several exhibits, including a diorama of the battle.
This serves as a good overview if you choose to take the driving tour of the battle
site just a few miles away.
There are 11 marked sites on the battle tour, including the newly refurbished
Confederate cemetery. Twenty of the estimated 36 Confederate dead are buried here.
The Union dead lie in the National Cemetery in Lebanon. Included among them is
Lizzie Compton, a 16-year-old girl who was posing as a man.
Also included is a display of the tools used to build log houses, and an
exhibit detailing the various kinds of log architecture.
For more information, and a map of the driving tour, contact: Taylor County Tourist
Commission, P.O. Box 4021, Campbellsville, KY 42718, 1-800-738-4719.
Where to hunt in midwinter
Wingshooters who put up their shotguns during February are missing a bet.
There’s still a lot of gunning to be done.
True, quail season has closed. Grouse are the only wild birds still available.
But don’t neglect the private hunting clubs that have sprung up the past few years.
They offer gunning like you remember it-crisp days afield, with good dogs that
hold for the point, then flush like a jet plane.
According to Black’s Wing & Clay directory, there are at least 15 hunting
preserves scattered across the Commonwealth. But several we know about are not
listed there, so there’s sure to be one close to you. These range from simple
farm fields to ornate, full-service resorts with all the amenities.
We haven’t hunted them all, but we’ve gunned enough to know that high-quality
hunting experiences are available at these clubs.
Without doubt, one of the best is Elk Creek Hunt Club & Sporting Clays, near
Owenton, (502) 484-4569. Here Curtis Sigretto and sporting clays champion Jon
Kruger have created a paradise for gunners. There’s a full-service lodge with
sleeping accommodations, restaurant, pro shop, several sporting clays courses,
and 600 acres of hunting for quail, pheasant, and chukar partridge.
Deer Creek Outfitters, in Sebree, (270) 835-2424, is another high-end hunting
club, with a full lodge and quail hunting on 400 acres. Deer Creek’s big claim
to fame is that it offers unlimited hunting on a flat fee basis. Eighteen to 24
coveys per day are not uncommon. Pheasant and chukar hunting also are offered,
along with combination hunts for upland birds and waterfowl.
On the other end of the scale is Happy Ridge Quail Farm and Preserve in
Pleasureville, (502) 878-4903. There is no lodge or other amenities, just some
of the most natural quail gunning you can find. Eddie Shuck, one of the best professional
dog trainers in the state, manages his preserve with dog work in mind. Mixed natural
growth and food crops provide a top-notch setting for upland gunning. And if you
need some training work for your dogs, Eddie is the man to see.
For a complete listing of Kentucky hunting preserves, check Black’s Wing
& Clay. Copies are available from Black’s Sporting Directories, P.O. Box 2029,
Red Bank, NJ 07701, (732) 224-8700.