Last Sunday morning we departed Nicholasville after a forgettable breakfast, and headed towards a couple of attractions I’d read about and wanted to see. The day was warming slowly, but still somewhat cloudy at the start.
The Kentucky River High Bridge was the first stop.
The map showed it less than 15 miles from Nicholasville, and it was a very pleasant drive through pretty horse and cattle country. This iron bridge was an engineering marvel when put into service in 1877. It is 275 feet above the Kentucky River. We got a good look at it from a completely vacant state park nearby.
Next up was the Jessamine Creek Gorge Trail, less than 10 miles away from the bridge. Again we passed through the pretty scenery, with plenty of cows and horses out in the fields. We also saw the occasional donkey.
This area is known as the Kentucky Palisades, and the main feature is the Kentucky River traveling through a deep gorge carved from the sedimentary rock. Jessamine Creek feeds into the Kentucky through its own smaller gorge. The trail isn’t long, about 2.5 miles round trip, and not challenging with regard to elevation change. We arrived at the trailhead a little after 11AM, and off I went.
It felt strange to be walking in the woods in shirtsleeves, in February. By now the temps were up into the mid-50s, and much of the cloud cover had cleared. When we arrived there were no other cars in the parking lot, and while on the trail I saw only two other people.
The Jessamine Creek Gorge Trail heads directly to the gorge, then crosses it and proceeds up a ridge where you can glimpse the Kentucky River and the sandstone cliffs on the other side through the trees. I don’t think there are any views once the trees leaf out. A man I met on the trail told me that there are a couple of bushwacks off the trail, one to the falls where Jessamine Creek falls into the Kentucky, and another at the outbound end of the trail that leads down the rock cliffs to the Kentucky River. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time for either of these, as Wife was patiently waiting for me at the trailhead. Here are a few photos of the trail:
And here’s a link to a short video of Jessamine Creek at the bottom of the gorge.
We resumed our westbound travel after the walk was done. After angling up towards Versaille, we picked up the Bluegrass Parkway west towards Springfield. Abraham Lincoln was born near there, and there are several attractions for tourists. We figured to check out what we could, as not everything was open on Sunday.
It was well after lunchtime when we got to Springfield, closer to mid-afternoon, and we were hungry. We found that one museum we thought of interest was closed, so we decided to check out The Lincoln Birthplace Memorial near Hodgonville. But before we got there I had to make an emergency left turn.
That turn took us into the parking lot of an old Mobil service station, converted years ago into retail space. Today it’s the home of BillyBob’s BBQ.
As mentioned earlier, we missed lunch, were hungry, and when I saw the BBQ banner I reflexively made that left turn.
We met both Billy and Bob, and chatted away with them while we devoured some of the best smoked BBQ pork I’ve ever had. Kansas City BBQ- not the other sloppy saucy varieties.
The cole slaw and barbequed beans were also first-rate. As was the conversation. We yakked about everything, and learned that two Yankees and two Southern gentlemen were in agreement about many issues of our times. Stumbling upon BillyBob’s was the highlight of my day.
Eventually we navigated to the Lincoln Birthplace Memorial, run by the National Park Service. This is one of the free ones, as it should be for not much about it is real. The memorial encases a replica frontier cabin- not Lincoln’s family’s home- and the whole thing is not located where the actual cabin existed. We’re told it’s an “approximate representation”. What’s the point of that? Were I to guess, this park came about as Federal pork to Kentucky under some pretext or guise.
Abraham Lincoln called Springfield, Illinois his home. From what I’ve read, the museums and memorials there are well done, real and accurate. We may find a way to stop there on our return trip to the East in a few weeks. Meanwhile, no links or photos of the Birthplace Memorial! 😆
As we left the park it was nearing 5PM, so we set a direct course for Elizabethtown, where we planned to spend the night.
The journey continues in the next post, recounting our exit of Kentucky, through Illinois and into Missouri. I hope you’re enjoying these posts, and thanks for stopping by!