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Adventure runs through it

Memories growing up along the Rockcastle River 


Daily adventures on the steep banks of the Rockcastle River near Livingston, a genealogy going back to Pocahontas and the building of a family trading company. That history might have the makings of a book, but for Betsy Carloftis, the spoken version has come first. 

These are Carloftis’ childhood memories. Her parents, the late Lucille and Carlo Carloftis, built a homestead on the Rockcastle River and started what is now known as the Rockcastle River Trading Company. 

While a book about her memories is in the works, Betsy, a consumer-member of Jackson Energy, decided first to record them on an audio CD called River Raised: Appalachian Stories of My Life on the Rockcastle River. Betsy has had a strong connection to the electric cooperative since 1973, when she was Miss Jackson County RECC. 

Mary Baldwin poses with Betsy amid a pile of rocks. Baldwin came to the area often to look for rocks. Photo: Charles Chestnut 

Betsy’s parents opened what was called Fort Sequoyah, later renamed, as a stopover spot for travelers coming through Kentucky. 

“The year was 1955,” Betsy recalls, “and Americans were traveling highways and byways that brought them right into the middle of rural communities. Trailers captured the hearts of everyone, and the travelers were searching for adventure.” 

A self-described lover of life, Betsy moves seamlessly from story to story, hardly finishing one before memories escort her to another. “I have so enjoyed writing my memories,” Betsy says, adding her recorded collection includes “probably more than 70 stories.” 

“As the years passed, we became a part of the river’s personal story and its past,” Betsy says. “Living our lives amid the winding, rhythmic flow of the water, along with the river cane and the bluebells that grew wild along its steep banks.” 

To find out more, visit or take your own trip to the Rockcastle River Trading Company off U.S. 25. The store welcomes visitors April through December.

DEBRA GIBSON ISAACS writes about how co-op members and staff contribute to their communities.

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