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Fort Boonesborough

Photo: Kentucky Dept. of Tourism
Photo: Kentucky Dept. of Tourism
Photo: Kentucky Dept. of Tourism
Photo: Kentucky Dept. of Tourism
Photo: Kentucky Dept. of Tourism

A chapter in Kentucky’s settlement story

Although there are no visible remains of the original fort constructed in 1775 by Daniel Boone and other early settlers, or of its 26 one-story log cabins and four blockhouses, artifacts were recovered during a 2014 dig by the University of Kentucky Archeology Department.

Recovered buckles from saddles, cooking utensils, leather straps, beads, buttons, and animal bones can be seen in the museum at the replica fort, which is located about a mile from the site of the original fort and near the present-day boat ramp accessing the Kentucky River.

“The establishment of Fort Boonesborough is a very important piece of our history here in central Kentucky,” says Rob Minerich, Fort Boonesborough State Park manager. “I think the legacy resonates with so many people because they were survivors willing to risk their lives for a better life.”

Visitors to the fort typically head to the orientation room for a short film about the history of Daniel Boone and Fort Boonesborough and follow it up with a self-guided tour, visiting cabins with live interpreters and exhibits of 18th-century life.

“We have a weaver, soap maker, candle maker, spinner, and woodworker, plus hides and horns, iron forge, food cabin, museum, and gift shop,” says Minerich. “Our fort manager, Bill Farmer, does a wonderful job with programming and keeping our interpretation of the time period correct.”

Visitors have come from every state and countries including England, Scotland, France, Germany, Belgium, Japan, and China to experience this fort dedicated to showing how the frontiersman lived and saw it through a dangerous time. The fort re-enacts the 1778 Siege of Boonesborough annually in September.

“This is when the Shawnee Indians tried to take the fort from Daniel Boone and the residents of the fort,” says Minerich. The event—included with fort admission—features militia and settlers’ camps, a Native American village, and more, with visitors learning about 18th-century life in Kentucky.

Minerich says the Daniel Boone television series, which ran from 1964 until 1970, helped build the intrigue—and the mythology—surrounding Kentucky’s most famous frontiersman.

“One of the biggest myths about Boone is that he wore a coonskin hat,” he says. “He never did, and re-enactors are very quick to point this out.”

Still, Boone remains a legendary figure in Kentucky history and some 20,000 visitors plus 3,500 students come every year to learn more about the trailblazer during the fort’s season, from April through October.

Don’t miss Women on the Frontier, April 22–23, which presents demonstrations and hands-on learning of 18th-century life skills and daily activities such as growing crops, using flintlock guns, starting fires, and preparing firewood. Spring Trade Days, May 27–28, features merchants, traders, artisans, Native Americans, militia members, long hunters, scouts, and other frontier characters converging on the fort, as well as period music, camps, and 18th-century goods.

For more information: Fort Boonesborough, 4375 Boonesboro Road, Richmond; (859) 527-3131, fortboonesboroughlivinghistory.

 

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