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Program 1222

Dr. Clark’s Kentucky Treasures
Season 12 Menu

Kentucky

Producer, videographer, editor: Brandon Wickey
Audio: Thomas Cooper


Dr. Clark’s Kentucky Treasures

It is probably safe to assume that no one else has known Kentucky as well as the late historian laureate Dr. Thomas Clark. Though he grew up in Mississippi, he moved to Kentucky as a young history student and then spent nearly eight decades exploring the highways and byways, the history and culture, and the natural splendor of his adopted state. He advised Kentucky’s leaders on matters of policy and held court at roadside diners. He lobbied tirelessly for the preservation of historical records and was known to dive into trash bins to rescue them himself. And he chronicled Kentucky’s history in books, essays, and articles, keeping multiple projects in the works right up until his death at the age of 101.

One of Clark’s last projects, suggested by a photographer friend from the Lexington Herald-Leader, was a “Top 10” list of Kentucky Treasures—the places every Kentuckian should visit. After the historian’s death in June 2005, his widow, Loretta Clark, found a typewritten list of 11 places. They may or may not have been the final selections; Clark did not live to write the proposed newspaper article. But the places on the list are all historical, cultural, or natural gems. They reflect Clark’s belief that the well-rounded life includes attention to art and spirituality as well as history and current affairs. They celebrate his love of both natural and manmade beauty. And they represent a fine starting point for anyone else who would like to know Kentucky.

This special expanded edition of Kentucky Life tours Dr. Clark’s 11 Kentucky Treasures to explore their historic, ecological, or cultural significance. It was inspired by the book Dr. Thomas Clark’s Kentucky Treasures, published by the Herald-Leader, and includes comments from Clark drawn from extensive interviews he taped with KET in the two years before his death.

The Treasures

The broadcast program is divided into four segments:

Part 1

  • Cumberland Gap and the Narrows, Bell County
    The openings through the mountains that enabled settlers to enter Kentucky from the east.
  • Lilley Cornett Woods, Letcher County
    A national natural landmark that is one of the few places contemporary visitors can see the Eastern Kentucky woods as the pioneers experienced them.
  • Fitchburg Furnace, Estill County
    One of the best-preserved examples of an iron furnace—a leading industry in frontier Kentucky.

Part 2

  • Augusta, Bracken County
    A lovely river town whose past residents have ranged from ancient Native Americans to Civil War raiders.
  • Falls of the Ohio, Jefferson County/Southern Indiana
    The tricky rapids where Louisville was born, and where fossil beds yield hundreds of millions of years of history.
  • Speed Art Museum, Louisville
    Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum.

Part 3

  • Mammoth Cave, Edmonson County
    The world’s longest cave system.
  • Land Between the Lakes, Trigg and Lyon counties
    One of the country’s largest inland peninsulas, a haven for wildlife and recreation-seeking humans alike.

Part 4

  • Cane Ridge Meeting House, Bourbon County
    A tiny church that was the epicenter of a great religious revival and the birthplace of two denominations.
  • Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, Mercer County
    A beautifully preserved community where a devout people lived apart from the world.
  • Abbey of Gethsemani, Nelson County
    The home of Thomas Merton, one of the 20th century’s leading writers on spiritual matters, and a place where devout people still live apart from the world.

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