Mitch's Blog 7.0

Mitch's Blog


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Day 3 Summary

Since Imageshack is back up and operational again, I can continue to post my vacation summaries. Please note, however, that I'm still having a problem with my files at Yahoo Briefcase, so I'm not able to provide any videos at this time.

Day 3 Summary – August 2, 2005
Lexington, KY to Knoxville, TN

Since the distance we would be traveling on this part of the trip was pretty small by my standards, only about 170 miles, we had some extra time to spending taking in the sites along the way between Lexington and Knoxville.

The first stop of the day would be in Kentucky’s capital city of Frankfort, which we had bypassed the day before because everything I wanted to see there had already been shut down. Luckily, Frankfort is only about 20 miles from Lexington, so although it did require some backtracking to get to, not all that terribly much.

Frankfort, with a population of about 28,000, is the fifth smallest state capital in the United States (only the capital cities of Helena, Montana; Augusta, Maine; Pierre, South Dakota; and Montpelier, Vermont are smaller).

Frankfort definitely had a big city feel to it, mostly because of all the dignified buildings that house various state departments that are there. Because the city was built in a rather deep valley, there was actually a scenic overlook along one of the highways going in. Although I naturally had to stop to see the overlook, I quickly found out that the sight from it isn’t at as scenic as it possibly could be. The area offered a nice view of the capitol’s dome (the building sits atop a small hill making it higher than any other structure in the city), but, other than that, not much more of the city of Frankfort could be seen. The view was probably really nice when the turnout and overlook was put in, but I believe trees and other vegetation have now grown in and caused the visibility to be hindered.

I’ve sort of gotten ahead of myself, though, since we visited the overlook on the way out of town, because we took another highway coming in. So actually, the first thing we visited after arriving in Frankfort was the Kentucky History Center, which is an excellent example of what a state history center should be. The center is housed in a huge, 2-story building; the first floor is dedicated to exhibits, while the second has a research library and archives collection.

Since I obviously didn’t have anything to research in the library, I stayed down on the first floor and looked at the exhibits. Just like the Old Capitol Museum of Mississippi History I visited during my vacation last year, the Kentucky History Center contains a multitude of different exhibit spaces that seamlessly blend together to tell the story of Kentucky from the prehistoric times – before the first humans came to the area – up to the end of the twentieth century. I spent 2 hours looking at all the exhibits, though I suspect I could have spent a much more time looking at all there was to see and reading all there was to read.

The history center also has a rotating exhibit area, currently featuring an exhibit about the rivers that run through Kentucky and the role that they have played and continue to play in shaping the everyday lives of Kentuckians. This, too, was very interesting, and something I wish I could have spent more time looking at.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the Kentucky History Center also has a gift shop full of Kentucky mementos (including a bottle of “pure Kentucky bluegrass”) as well as a hall featuring paintings of the many men and one woman who have served as governor of Kentucky.

It was almost 1 in the afternoon by the time we left Frankfort, so we had to hustle a bit in order to get it to Knoxville before the sun went down. After making the rounds to visit the state capitol grounds and seeing the scenic overlook I already mentioned, we got on U.S. Highway 127 and headed south once again toward the city of Lawrenceburg. I tried eating at a Sonic for the first time here, and I must say, that’s another place that should come to Brainerd, or at least Minnesota. I’d be interested in how well the drive-in concept works in Kentucky, as well as the other northern states (Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Idaho), that Sonic has come to, since I wouldn’t expect to see all that many people willing to sit in their cars or eat outside during the wintertime. The Sonic in Lawrenceburg has a drive-thru, though, so I imagine that must do something to sustain business during the winter.

After Lawrenceburg, it was time to get back on highway 127 and drive through the cities of Salvisa, Harrodsburg, and Danville. This particular area of Kentucky – with the city of Lexington included – is the heart of the classical bluegrass, horse breeding region of Kentucky. Miles and miles of black and white, corral-type fencing to keep horses and cattle from getting away can be seen along the roadway in this area, along with many grand estates and mansions. This area is essentially the stereotypical image that anyone hearing the word Kentucky would immediately conjure up.

Along with horses and cattle, the only other agricultural commodity of significance in the central and southern regions of Kentucky is, of course, tobacco. In fact, there were quite a few tobacco fields near the cities of Lexington and Harrodsburg. With that said, tobacco was pretty much the only crop being grown in the area, most likely due to the rocky soil that makes up the area. There were many walls of tan-colored rock along the roads in this area, evidence of how the roadway designers had to cut through the stone right beneath the top layer of soil to smoothen the roadbed. Tobacco must have a pretty shallow root system to grow so well in an area where corn and tubers would fail.

In Danville, we got off of the main highway to see the Constitution Square State Historic Site, the site of where Kentucky’s constitution was written. The area has been turned into a large park housing numerous historical buildings from around the area. We started touring the grounds by going to the information center/gift shop, where we met a nice, old gentleman who, after hearing that we were from Minnesota, informed us that some other “northerners,” from Minot, North Dakota, had stopped by earlier in the day.

After leaving the center, we proceeded to view all of the park’s buildings, which included, among other things, a replica of the cabin used to write the constitution, a drive-thru prison, the first post office west of the Alleghenies, the first brick schoolhouse west of the Alleghenies, and a garden commemorating all of Kentucky’s governors.

After seeing this interesting park, we got back on the road, this time U.S. Highway 150, to head southeast to get on Interstate 75.

By the time we got to Interstate 75, the terrain had gotten progressively hillier. By the time we had traveled 20 miles south to Corbin, KY, it was clear that we were going into mountain county. The road kept going up steep hills only to be followed by going down equally as steep of hills.

Because London, KY is the city where the infamous Colonel Sanders started his business that would ultimately be famous worldwide, we had to get off of the interstate to look around. The original Sander’s Café has been meticulously restored to look just as it did when it originally opened in the 1940s, and a modern-day KFC has been added off to the side. Although we didn’t have time to go and see the museum and gift store that is housed in the original café, I do have a receipt to prove that I ate at KFC #0001.

After this adventure, we got back on the interstate to head south on a non-stop journey to our hotel in Knoxville. The road immediately started going up in elevation, and by the time we made it about 20 miles south of the Kentucky/Tennessee border, my GPS showed that we had gone up to 2,100 feet in elevation, almost 1,000 feet higher than our last stop in London.

This height was almost entirely lost by the time we got to Knoxville, however, since that city is at an elevation of about 900 feet. By the time we got to our hotel, it was about 7:30 PM.

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This was the street scene right in front of the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort

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The Kentucky History Center in Frankfort

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The Kentucky state capitol

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The 4-lane road leading up to the state capitol

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A subtle hill sign on the way out of Frankfort

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At the scenic overlook looking down on Frankfort

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The view of the capitol from the overlook

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Historical marker at the overlook

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Another view of Frankfort from the overlook

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Constitution Square Historic Site sign in Danville

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The drive-thru jail at Constitution Square Historic Site

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A table inside the drive-thru jail

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This is a replica of the cabin used to pen Kentucky's constitution

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A street scene in Danville near the Constitution Square Historic Site

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Site of log courthouse

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This monument is in the middle of the garden honoring Kentucky's govenors

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Each one of Kentucky's past govenors has a commeorative, engraved plaque

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Another look at the monument

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This was the first brick schoolhouse west of the Alleghenies

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The original Sander's Cafe in London (KY)

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The Sander's Cafe has an addition that has made it like any other KFC on the inside; here's a shot of the drive-thru at the first KFC

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Scenery near Salvisa

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There were quite a few tobacco warehouses all over central Kentucky

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This type of fencing stretched for miles and miles along the roadway in the Lexington area

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The Wal-Mart in Harrodsburg is one of the original ones Sam Walton built

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A welcome to Danville sign

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In Danville, we got stuck behind this guy hauling yard waste

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One of the huge walls of rock along the roadway in central Kentucky

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KFCs were like wildflowers all over the place in Kentucky; here's one in Mount Vernon

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The scenery near Corbin

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Tennessee welcomes you

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Northeast Tennessee scenery

Click here to view all these pictures in one gallery.

Kentucky Constitution Hall
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Tennessee Psychotic Scare
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Mitch's Blog began on December 23, 2001