Monkey’s Eyebrow reminds us of Plum Lick—if you’re flying by the seat of your road map, you could zip right through it and never know you’d been there.
In the case of Plum, most around here in Bourbon County, even in the fruitiest of times, don’t call it Plum. Most call it “The Levy” (not to be confused with the possibly more correctly spelled “Levee” in adjoining Montgomery County). We’ve yet to have it on best authority as to how either place got its name.
Tradition has it that Plum got its name from plum seeds spit out by Native American hunting parties on their way to and from the Ohio River. We question the authenticity of this theory, because if it were true, there’d be Plums all over the place. One of most things is enough.
Doesn’t matter. What counts are the people and the here and now. What happened yesterday and what might transpire tomorrow aren’t nearly as important as what’s staring us right in the face. The present winks, while the past nods, and the future yawns.
As it is, there are many interesting place names to visit in Kentucky and so little time to get to all of them: Illwill Creek in Clinton County, Possum Trot in McCracken County, Lick Skillet in Livingston County, Bugtussle in Monroe County, and Tywhapity Bottoms on the Hancock-Daviess County line. (Check out Robert M. Rennick’s From Red Hot to Monkey’s Eyebrow: Unusual Kentucky Place Names, published in 1997 by the University Press of Kentucky.)
Red Hot is in Greenup County in the area north of Warnock near the juncture of KY 2 and KY 7. Rennick tells the story of how Red Hot got its name, which is a good read and gave the author a dandy title for his book.
Which brings us back to Monkey’s Eyebrow.
We figured our “been there, done that” list would not have been complete without a trip to Monkey’s Eyebrow. So, we followed U.S. 60 west from Paducah toward Future City and West Future City. Just like Plum, we were into the future and out of the future without ever knowing it, which should have been sufficient warning—some maps and storytellers have been known to promise more than they deliver.
On across the McCracken-Ballard County line through Kevil, where we could have stopped for our baloney sandwich, but we were fixed on finding our way to Monkey’s Eyebrow.
We took a shortcut around La Center, headed north on KY 358 to the juncture with KY 1782, then headed west through Needmore and finally arrived at what we believed to be Monkey’s Eyebrow.
Other than a television relay tower and a taxidermy shop (no irony intended), the best part of Monkey’s Eyebrow was well-tended Ohio River bottom land, neatly trimmed yards, and nicely painted homes with plenty of space for everybody. Nobody in a hurry—in fact, nobody in sight.
No honking horns.
Not in Monkey’s Eyebrow.
Maybe the name comes from the shape of the Ohio River at this point, or it could have been a riverboat captain making a toast: “Here’s to your Monkey’s Eyebrow.” Can’t be too sure.
On our way back east to Paducah, we celebrated by stopping for a baloney sandwich at Hughes’s Grocery on the Ogden Landing Road. Allan Hughes fixed us up. What a treat!
Nothing fancy. Just non-threatening talk about the best way to call a wild turkey, being responsible in the hunting season, and not worrying about trying to get ahead of the next feller. Plenty of smiles and heartfelt expressions that seemed to say, “Come back and spend more time, when you think you can.”
Let’s just put it this way: when we get plum worn out with Plum Lick, we’ll seriously consider moving to Monkey’s Eyebrow, if they’ll have us there. And they probably would.