February / 2000
On the Road

by: Brook and Barbara Elliott

Weekend Wanderings
Escape route
  During the mid-1750s, Mary Draper Ingles wrote the greatest captivity story in Appalachian history. The Shawnee took her from her home in Draper Meadows (now West Virginia) and carried her to the Indian towns near what is now Cincinnati. 

She was part of a group taken to Big Bone Lick to make salt. While there, she escaped, and walked back home. Mary followed the rivers back to Draper Meadows-an estimated distance of 750 miles. Much of that trip took place in Kentucky.

  There were no bridges or fords in those days. Every stream and river had to be followed far inland until a crossing could be found, then followed back downstream to the Ohio, all the while foraging for food and trying to avoid recapture.

It took her months to get to the West Virginia border, a trip you can make today in a couple of hours. But if you do, you will miss some great sites and attractions. Indeed, a week might not be enough time to see it all. A weekend only leaves time for some highlights.

  To retrace Mary Ingles' route, start at Big Bone Lick State Park, near Union. A museum, life-sized diorama, and hiking trails interpret this special geologic region, and you can view the last free-flowing salt spring. It was these springs that attracted the prehistoric animals to the site. Their remaining bones gave the park its name.
Be sure, too, to see the newly established buffalo herd. Buffalo once roamed the Bluegrass, but were wiped out by hunters before the turn of the 19th century. 

  Leaving the park, follow Route 338 west to the Ohio River and turn north to Rabbit Hash, an old-time general store and river town. The entire village is owned by Alexis Scott and her brother Brandon, who bought it about three years ago and are slowly restoring the remaining buildings. In the general store you'll find numerous handmade crafts. Some of the outbuildings are ready for viewing as well.

  From Rabbit Hash you can connect with Route 20 and follow it, with the river on your left, to Covington. Known as the Gateway to the Bluegrass, there are numerous museums and attractions in town. MainStrasse Village, a restored 19th-century German neighborhood, is a don't-miss site. Antique shops, boutiques, and restaurants abound in the five-block-long village. Be sure to see the Goose Girl Fountain in the center of the village. It commemorates the Grimm Brothers' Goose Girl fairy tale.

  While every stream and creek was a problem for Mary Ingles (who couldn't swim), the Licking River was a major obstacle. It took her days of trudging deep into the Bluegrass before she could find a crossing, and long days more back to the river. You might not even notice it as you cross the concrete bridge linking Covington with Newport.

  One of the newest attractions is the Newport Aquarium. It's worth a visit, but be warned-it isn't cheap. A family of four can drop fifty bucks or more in a heartbeat, once parking and lunch are factored in.

  Pick up Route 8 out of Newport. It follows the river in the exact footprints of Mary Ingles. Fairly soon you'll reach the Meldahl Lock & Dam. Pause to look at it, because nothing points out the differences between Ms. Ingles' trip and your own as much as these engineering works. Until the early part of this century, you could, most times of the year, wade from Kentucky to Ohio. No longer. The locks and dams made the river fully navigable, and no longer dependent on rainfall for its flow. 

  A few miles from the dam is Augusta, whose picturesque 19th-century façade and lack of a seawall have made it the perfect choice for several movies. There are numerous bed and breakfast inns in Augusta, and you might want to stop here for the night. And the Beehive Tavern is one of the finest restaurants in northern Kentucky. Augusta, by the way, is the birthplace of Rosemary Clooney, and her home is still there.

  Just a short drive from Augusta is Maysville, and just up the hill, Old Washington. Both founded by Simon Kenton, they played a major role in early Kentucky history. You can spend days exploring these two towns. But if you can only visit one site, we recommend the Underground Railroad Museum in downtown Maysville. It commemorates Kentucky's role in that route to freedom.

  Route 8 takes you through numerous small river towns, with names like Trinity, Concord, Fire Brick, and South Shore, until you come to Greenup. Nearby is W-Hollow, home of Kentucky's great poet laureate Jesse Stuart. His beloved W-Hollow is now a state nature preserve, and you can follow a hiking trail to the cabin where he did much of his writing. The preserve protects these hills and hollows he immortalized so lovingly in books such as Man With a Bull-Tongue Plow and Tales From the Plum Grove Hills.
South of W-Hollow is Greenbo Lake State Resort Park, a jewel of a park that includes a lodge and cabins, swimming pool, golf, and some of the best fishing in the area.

  Return to the river and follow it east to Ashland-a city of many parts. Stately historic homes, ancient Indian burial mounds, parks, museums, theaters, and art galleries define this town perched on the banks of the Ohio River.

  If nothing else, be sure and take the two-mile walking tour of the downtown area, which includes the mansions and mounds of Central Park, Calvary Episcopal Church, founded in 1888, and the restored Paramount Arts Center, housed in what had been the first "talkie" theater in the Ohio Valley.

  Mary Draper Ingles had only one desire-to never see the Ohio Valley again. But like us, you'll probably want to return again and again.

  For more information, contact: Kentucky Department of Travel, 500 Mero St. #22, Frankfort, KY 40601, 1-800-225-8747.

Day Trips and Short Stops
Remembering the Battle of Tebbs Bend
  "Many of our best men were killed or wounded. It was a sad, sorrowful day."

  Thus did Confederate Major-and future Kentucky governor-James B. McCreary describe the Battle of Tebbs Bend, along the banks of Green River, near Campbellsville in July 1863.

  It was the start of John Hunt Morgan's aborted attempt to invade the north, and eventually link up with Robert E. Lee. But outnumbered Union forces fought Morgan to a standstill, and forced him to withdraw after heavy losses. Morgan's plans came to naught, and he was captured three weeks later.

  The story of this raid and the Battle of Tebbs Bend is told in the Atkinson Griffin House, now relocated at the Interpretive Center at Green River Lake State Park. The double-pen log house, originally located across the highway, served as a Confederate hospital during the battle. Bloodstains, still visible on the upstairs floor, are mute testimony of the battle.

  Inside the log house are several exhibits, including a diorama of the battle. This serves as a good overview if you choose to take the driving tour of the battle site just a few miles away. 
There are 11 marked sites on the battle tour, including the newly refurbished Confederate cemetery. Twenty of the estimated 36 Confederate dead are buried here. The Union dead lie in the National Cemetery in Lebanon. Included among them is Lizzie Compton, a 16-year-old girl who was posing as a man. 

  Also included is a display of the tools used to build log houses, and an exhibit detailing the various kinds of log architecture. 
For more information, and a map of the driving tour, contact: Taylor County Tourist Commission, P.O. Box 4021, Campbellsville, KY 42718, 1-800-738-4719.

Outdoor Log
Where to hunt in midwinter
  Wingshooters who put up their shotguns during February are missing a bet. There's still a lot of gunning to be done.

  True, quail season has closed. Grouse are the only wild birds still available. But don't neglect the private hunting clubs that have sprung up the past few years. They offer gunning like you remember it-crisp days afield, with good dogs that hold for the point, then flush like a jet plane. 

  According to Black's Wing & Clay directory, there are at least 15 hunting preserves scattered across the Commonwealth. But several we know about are not listed there, so there's sure to be one close to you. These range from simple farm fields to ornate, full-service resorts with all the amenities. 

  We haven't hunted them all, but we've gunned enough to know that high-quality hunting experiences are available at these clubs.
Without doubt, one of the best is Elk Creek Hunt Club & Sporting Clays, near Owenton, (502) 484-4569. Here Curtis Sigretto and sporting clays champion Jon Kruger have created a paradise for gunners. There's a full-service lodge with sleeping accommodations, restaurant, pro shop, several sporting clays courses, and 600 acres of hunting for quail, pheasant, and chukar partridge.

  Deer Creek Outfitters, in Sebree, (270) 835-2424, is another high-end hunting club, with a full lodge and quail hunting on 400 acres. Deer Creek's big claim to fame is that it offers unlimited hunting on a flat fee basis. Eighteen to 24 coveys per day are not uncommon. Pheasant and chukar hunting also are offered, along with combination hunts for upland birds and waterfowl.

  On the other end of the scale is Happy Ridge Quail Farm and Preserve in Pleasureville, (502) 878-4903. There is no lodge or other amenities, just some of the most natural quail gunning you can find. Eddie Shuck, one of the best professional dog trainers in the state, manages his preserve with dog work in mind. Mixed natural growth and food crops provide a top-notch setting for upland gunning. And if you need some training work for your dogs, Eddie is the man to see.

  For a complete listing of Kentucky hunting preserves, check Black's Wing & Clay. Copies are available from Black's Sporting Directories, P.O. Box 2029, Red Bank, NJ 07701, (732) 224-8700.

Brook and Barbara Elliott are freelance writers and public relations consultants. They write primarily about travel and outdoor recreation, and help publicize businesses in those industries.