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Weekend Wanderings

A capital place

Kentucky’s capital is more than the administrative
center of the state. It’s a living city, with numerous sites and attractions.

It’s sometimes a bit confusing getting around Frankfort,
because the Kentucky River meanders through the heart of town. Unless you arrange
things carefully, you’ll find yourself jumping back and forth across the river
on one of the five bridges that cross it. With a little planning, however, you
can follow a loop that minimizes this.

Start your tour with a visit to the state Capitol.
Built in 1910 at a cost of nearly $2 million, it is considered one of the most
beautiful Capitol buildings in the country.

Inside, in addition to changing historical and cultural
exhibits, are the First Lady Doll Collection, decorated murals, and sculptures
of prominent dignitaries lining the rotunda. Be sure to see the world-famous
Floral Clock on the west lawn of the Capitol grounds, a whopping 34 feet in

Next to the Capitol is the Executive Mansion, the
governor’s official residence. Guided tours include the state dining room, ballroom,
reception room, and formal salon.

From the Capitol, follow KY 420 to KY 676, and take
it east to Coffee Tree Road. There you’ll find another giant clock-the unique
sundial of the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Recognized as one of the most original and unusual
memorials in the nation, the gnomon (the pointer of the sundial) sits in the
center of a huge granite disk. The names of Kentuckians who died in Vietnam
are etched in the granite, and the point of the gnomon’s shadow touches the
veteran’s name on the anniversary of his death. On-site are strips of special
rubbing paper that allow visitors to copy the names of loved ones.

Continue east on 676 to County 1659, then north to
U.S. 60. The grounds of Kentucky State University surround you at that intersection.
A short way to the left is the Frankfort Cemetery, where the Bluegrass’ most
famous veteran-Colonel Daniel Boone-is buried.

Although Boone and his family emigrated to Missouri
in 1799, and he died there, both Daniel and his wife, Becky, were reinterred
here in 1845 after a long fight between the governments of both states.

Continue on U.S. 60 west into the downtown area.
Here, inside a grand loop of the river, are clustered numerous museums, old
homes, and other points of interest. Although not set up as a formal walking
tour, most of the attractions are within walking distance of each other. And
because parking space is at a premium in downtown Frankfort, walking is a good

The crown jewel of the section is the new Kentucky
History Center, at 100 West Broadway. A 167,000-square-foot museum and research
facility features a permanent interactive exhibit called “A Kentucky Journey,”
which traces 12,000 years of Kentucky history, along with changing exhibits
and special events and activities.

Next door to the History Center is the Lt. Governor’s
Mansion, the oldest official executive residence in the U.S. still in use. Now
the official home of the lieutenant governor, this Federalist-style mansion
has been home to 33 Kentucky governors.

Two blocks away, at Broadway and Lewis Streets, is
the Old State Capitol, a national landmark that served as the seat of government
from 1830-1910. The Greek Revival building houses a unique, self-supporting

A few blocks in the opposite direction, at East Main
Street and Capital Avenue, you’ll find the Kentucky Military History Museum.
Operated jointly by the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky National
Guard, the museum is located in the old State Arsenal, built in 1850. It houses
collections of military memorabilia from the American Revolution through Operation
Desert Storm.

Both Liberty Hall and the Orlando Brown House are
located at 218 Wilkinson Street and offer guided tours.

Liberty Hall is a Federalist mansion, built in 1796,
that was home to Kentucky’s first senator, John Brown. Lavishly decorated with
antiques owned by four generations of Browns who had lived in the house, the
grounds also contain the largest formal boxwood garden in Kentucky, with three
acres of perennial and annual borders.

The Greek Revival Orlando Brown house, built in 1835,
was designed by world-famous Kentucky architect Gideon Shryock. Antiques, family
portraits, and Duncan Phyfe furniture abound.

From Liberty Hall, follow Wilkinson Boulevard north
to Buffalo Trace Distillery. It’s a bit far, however, and you might want to
drive it instead of walking. Buffalo Trace (formerly Ancient Age) is the oldest
continually operating distillery in America. Under special permit, it continued
even during Prohibition days.

Guided tours are offered on the hour. These 45-minute
walking tours include the warehouse, hand bottling operation, barrel dumping
house, a visit to the mini-museum, and a 10-minute video presentation.

For more information about Frankfort, contact: Frankfort/Franklin
County Tourist & Convention Commission, 100 Capital Ave., Frankfort, KY
40601, (800) 960-7200, or go online at

Day Trips & Short

Kentucky’s official flag horse

“Whereas, Kentucky is the Greatest Horse State
in the United States,” Governor Paul Patton proclaimed in September of
last year, “and, whereas the Governor is involved with many parades over
Kentucky and is always preceded by a presentation of the Flag of the Commonwealth;
and whereas, to further emphasize and publicize the importance of the horse
to Kentucky; and Now, Therefore, I…do hereby proclaim Goldfinger’s Star…As
the first official Mountain Horse Flag Bearer for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

A seemingly simple proclamation. A horse is needed
to carry the state flag in parades and similar events here in Kentucky, and
outside the state borders. So the governor picked one. But Goldfinger’s Star
isn’t just a simple horse. His lineage is very much a part of Kentucky’s history.

Goldfinger’s Star is a Mountain Pleasure Horse. Don’t
be surprised if you never heard of them. Although they are a unique Kentucky
breed, raised in the Commonwealth for more than 160 years, they had all but
disappeared except in a small pocket in eastern Kentucky. Often called Mountain
Horses or Country Saddle horses, they are known for their distinctive four-beat
gait and easy disposition.

These sure-footed, easy-gaited horses were the mount
of choice for doctors, postmen, and traveling preachers as they rode the steep
and rugged roads that meander through the mountains. Several more-familiar breeds
were developed from them, including the Tennessee Walking Horse, American Saddlebred,
and, more recently, the Rocky Mountain Horse.

Goldfinger’s Star is owned by Nora Deaton, who’s
been breeding Mountain Pleasure Horses for about 30 years. Nora’s line produces
palominos, with white manes and tails-truly beautiful horses.

More than a breeder, Nora operates the Mountain Horse
Museum, which celebrates all facets of mountain horses. Thus, in addition to
seeing the official Kentucky flag horse, you can gain insights into their background,
and the kind of equipment and tack associated with Mountain Horses.

Take, for instance, the Minihan saddle. Eugene Minihan
was a saddle maker in Owensville in the first half of the 20th century. When
he lost his young daughter, he carved angels in a saddle to commemorate her.
You can see several “angel” saddles in the museum, along with other
memorabilia of Mountain Horse life.

For details, contact: Nora Deaton, Mountain Horse
Museum, 691 Natural Bridge Road, Slade, KY 40376, (606) 663-0928.

Outdoor Log

Smallmouth of summer

It’s getting to be a cliché. “Ounce for
ounce, and pound for pound, the fightingest fish the world around.” They’ve
been saying that about smallmouth bass for well over a hundred years. And they’ll
continue saying it, because it’s true. A smallmouth at the end of your line
turns you every way but loose. He’ll jump, run, sound deep, sulk in the thick
stuff, and tail-walk across the surface.

Dale Hollow Lake is the most widely known
smallmouth lake. It consistently produces large fish, and has held the distinction
of producing state and world records more than once. But it’s not the only large
lake with big smallmouth. Cave Run, for instance, consistently yields smallmouth
of 4 pounds or better. And more recently, due to a flush-through effect that
has cleaned the silt from their bottoms, Cumberland, Kentucky, and Barkley lakes
are developing big-fish reputations as well.

Personally, we prefer stream fishing to flat
water. True, the fish don’t grow as large in streams as they do in lakes. But
they fight just as hard. Perhaps even harder, because they tend to jump more,
and use the current to their advantage.

Elkhorn Creek, in Scott and Franklin counties,
is arguably the finest smallmouth stream in the state.

But the creek doesn’t need a great rep to
produce good smallmouth fishing. Many tiny runs throughout the state are locally
known for their smallies. Otter Creek, in Madison County, for instance, is one
of those “secret” streams.

For more details, contact: Department of Fish
and Wildlife Resources, #1 Game Farm Road, Frankfort, KY 40601, (800) 858-1549.

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