Kentucky Department of Parks
History Comes Alive at Fort Boonesborough State Park
May 19, 2010 Contact: Bill Farmer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 859-527-3131 ext216
(Through Oct. 31, 2010) firstname.lastname@example.org
No matter which Kentucky State Park or historic site you visit, each has a distinct character and air about it. Like snowflakes, no two are alike in setting, the story they tell or the experiences that happen along with making new memories for guests. There’s no such thing as, “If you’ve seen one, you seen ‘em all,” for any of Kentucky’s 53 state parks.
Take Ft. Boonesborough State Park located between Lexington and Richmond just off I-75 as a perfect example. Among the standard recreational opportunities—camping, hiking, fishing and taking a dip in the pool—is the recreation of Kentucky’s second settlement established in 1775 by Daniel Boone and his men on the Kentucky River. During the 2010 summer season, new experts who “reside” at the fort are on hand to share and colorfully explain what life was like on what was once the nation’s western frontier. Enter the fort stockades and wander back to a time before Kentucky became a state. Historic interpretations about the lives of slaves and free blacks as the country expanded westward; the story of children captured, adopted and raised to adulthood by Native American tribes; and other new programs that explain what area life was like in the 18th Century, go on all summer long.
Scott New, who appears at the fort as Daniel Boone, is expanding his character portrayals of the famous pioneer and hunter which go on throughout the day. New will compare the man with the myths that have grown about him through the centuries; Boone’s Trace and the Wilderness Road, the path thousands of people followed to move west; and Kentucky-life during the American Revolution. He will also lead a walking tour of the original fort site.
A common aspect of life on the new frontier often omitted from history books is that of colonial children who were captured by Native American tribes and reared as an adopted member of the tribe. Ben vonDielingen, who speaks Shawnee, will interpret and explore the vast cultural differences that existed between the Shawnee and colonist’s cultures in the Ohio valley during the era.
New to Kentucky, Josiah MacMillan who came to this country from Liberia, Africa several years ago, will tell of the life led by slaves and free blacks as part of the fort’s frontier program. Slaves were present when Boone and about 30 axmen cleared the path to the Kentucky River where today’s working fort with cabins, blockhouses and furnishings, is located. Slaves had a vital role in transforming the “howling wilderness” of western Virginia to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Indeed, by the time the first federal census was taken 220 years ago, more than 12,000 slaves lived in Kentucky. It was these slaves, who toiled most to clear land, raise cabins, plant crops and tend livestock at the time. Slaves also worked at skilled occupations like blacksmithing, woodworking, spinning and weaving, brick making and more. (email contacts to request photo of Macmillan presenting.)
In addition, the distilling process for what we now call fine bourbon began with corn liquor near where the fort is located. Hear the story as told by Bob Caudill who grew up where Strode’s Station, an early frontier site founded shortly after Boonesborough. He will present how whiskey was made and then shipped via rivers to far away places like New Orleans. Caudill will explain the difference between the early and present-day libations and why central Kentucky is important to the process.
Finally, visit the gun maker’s shop to see what was involved in learning a frontier trade during the late 1700s. Various contracts and agreements were involved in becoming indentured labor or an apprentice. Larry MacQuown will tell all about how flintlock guns were made and what it took to become a gunsmith around this time. See if you have what it takes by trying out the rifling bench, a tool used to cut the spiral grooves inside of rifle barrels that improved long-range shooting accuracy.
These new programs are in addition to daily presentations and reenactments of what it was like to live and work where Fort Boonesborough began. Examine the artifacts on display in the Blockhouse Museum and shop around the Transylvania 18th Century Store.
Park hours are from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., seven days a week through October 31. To find out a particular interpreter’s schedule, call or email ahead of time. Reach the park at 859-527-3131 or email email@example.com or check the park’s Web site at www.parks.ky.gov for more details.
Fort Boonesborough is an easy day trip from Cincinnati, Louisville or Ashland at exit 95 on I-75, about 10 miles south of Lexington. Admission is $5 for children 6 to 12 years of age, $8 for adults and free for children under six. Group rates are also available. Admission to the Kentucky River Museum (hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m), is included in the admission to the Fort. Parking is always free at Kentucky State Parks and Ft. Boonesborough’s grounds are open year-round. Camping, primitive and with hook ups, is also available. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Consider making it a double header and tour another, nearby state historic site, White Hall. The Italianate mansion was the home of nationally prominent Cassius M. Clay and the collection there includes pieces about his friend, President Abraham Lincoln. For details, call 859-623-9178 or email WhiteHall@ky.gov. Make it a weekend getaway and stay at Blue Licks State Resort Park, to round out with more Boone information, or Natural Bridge State Resort Park to see stone arches that are older than the hills. Both are just a short, drive away and surrounded by some of Kentucky’s best scenery.
More information about all Kentucky State Parks, a map and special events is available at www.parks.ky.gov. You’re never far from a Kentucky State Park.
Kentucky State Parks are made up of 52 state parks plus one shared with Virginia. The Ky. Department of Parks, an agency of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, operates more resort parks with lodges and has more infrastructure than any other system in the nation. Each year these parks draw millions of visitors and generate millions of dollars for Kentucky’s economy. For more information about amenities, events and more, visit and bookmark the web site www.parks.ky.gov