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Good Times Happen in Kentucky

November 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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Thousands of snowbirds pass through Kentucky every year and miss out on some of the most incredible natural wonders and cultural treasures anywhere.

Kentucky Welcome Center, I-65, Exit 114 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kentucky Welcome Center, I-65, Exit 114 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From horse racing and Bourbon Country, to the culture of Appalachia, Civil War significance, and Abraham Lincoln, Kentucky is a state enriched with deep traditions, important history, and authentic heritage.

Every mile we’ve traveled along the highways and byways of the Bluegrass State has led us to new discoveries: National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Mammoth Cave National Park in Cave Country, Grand Ole Opry of Kentucky in Renfro Valley, Cumberland Gap, Red River Gorge, Natural Bridge, folk arts and crafts in Berea, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, horse farms, and Bourbon Country.
Once an Indian hunting ground where Native American civilizations flourished as early as 13,000 years ago, Kentucky is bounded in the north by the great Ohio River and in the west by the mighty Mississippi.

White men explored the area as early as 1750 when Shawnee and Cherokee still dominated the land. Early white explorers including Daniel Boone entered Kentucky after the Cumberland Gap through the Cumberland Mountains on Kentucky’s eastern border was discovered in 1750.

In 1792, Kentucky separated from Virginia and became the 15th state. A border state, Kentucky clung unsuccessfully to neutrality during the Civil War.

Kentuckians fought in both Union and Confederate armies and there are many instances of brothers taking arms against brothers in the struggle. Confederate forces invaded Kentucky in 1861 but most of the fighting within the state ceased by 1863, after Union forces ousted the Confederate army.

My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Bardstown © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Bardstown © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After the Civil War, the state changed economically and socially. Tobacco became the major crop, the coal mining industry exploded, and emphasis moved from agriculture to manufacturing and services, causing a population shift to the cities.

Kentucky offers a mix of natural beauty, country charm, and metropolitan attractions.

The largest cities lie along the state’s northern region, with Louisville famous for the arts, industry, and the Kentucky Derby; and Lexington internationally known as the birthplace of thoroughbred racing champions.

Bordered by the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, Kentucky’s Western region offers timeless bluegrass traditions, natural attractions including the Land Between the Lakes, the city of Owensboro—Kentucky’s third largest, and the creative art and energy of Paducah.

Home to world-famous Kentucky barbecue and music legends, Bill Monroe, the Everly Brothers, and W.C. Handy, this region invites the RVer to travel the roads of tradition.

South Central Kentucky is best known for dozens of lakes and its extensive cave system.

Rich in small town charm, heritage, and beautiful waterways, this region invites the RVer to explore and enjoy nature and Kentucky’s historic small town southern charm.

Bowling Green is home to the famed National Corvette Museum and Lost River Cave and Valley, home to Kentucky’s only underground boat tour.

Marvel at one of the most spectacular and vast adventures in Kentucky—Mammoth Cave National Park, the world’s longest cave system.

In the North Central Region you’ll find one of the state’s more popular claims to fame: Horse Country. Soft rolling hills, bluegrass countryside, and equestrian attractions including Churchill Downs, Keeneland, and the Kentucky Horse Park make this area a favorite for the RVer.

Bernheim Arborteum & Research Forest, Clermont © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bernheim Arborteum & Research Forest, Clermont © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Built on the falls of the Ohio River, Louisville is home to the annual Kentucky Derby, “the greatest two minutes in sports,” and world-class museums including the Louisville Slugger Museum and the Muhammad Ali Center.

Eastern Kentucky is home to the sprawling Appalachian Mountains, and the unique culture, music, and art of Appalachia, which has spawned many bluegrass and country artists.

Appalachian arts, history, crafts, music, and culture are celebrated and honored in festivals, museums, arts centers, and historic sites including the Highland Museum and Discovery Center, National Kentucky Folk Arts Center, Coal Miners Museum, and Mountain HomePlace, an actual Civil war era working farm as it was from 1850-1875.

Exploring Kentucky is discovering all the things you know about, and all the things you don’t. It’s experiencing more than 500 horse farms and touring the famous Bourbon Country distilleries.

Please Note: This is Part 1 of an ongoing series on Kentucky/Bourbon Country

Worth Pondering…

A richer and more Beautiful Country than this

I believe has never been seen in America.

—George Rogers Clark, 1775

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If you enjoy these articles and want to read more on RV travels and lifestyle, visit my website: Vogel Talks RVing.

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