Segment producers: Joy Flynn, Charlee Heaton, Marsha Hellard, Ernie Lee Martin, Janet Whitaker, Gale Worth
Life’s Great on 68!
There are quicker ways to get from Maysville to Paducah, but none as scenic and full of history as following the wanderings of U.S. Highway 68 as it meanders south, then west, eventually exiting Kentucky by crossing the same river it crossed to get in. In this special expanded edition of Kentucky Life, ride along with host Dave Shuffett as he drives that route, sees the sites, and meets an abundance of interesting people along the way.
We start in the river town of Maysville. Long before it was the seat of Mason County, it was the spot where buffalo entered Kentucky at a convenient shallow spot in the Ohio River. One of the temptations for the buffalo was the salt licks a little to the southwest, and they wore out a path to them. Highway 68 follows that old Buffalo Trace down to Blue Licks, site of one of the last battles of the Revolutionary War. In fact, the Battle of Blue Licks happened after the British surrender at Yorktown. And it’s probably a good thing the war had already been decided, because at Blue Licks the British and their Wyandot allies inflicted one of the worst and bloodiest defeats suffered by American frontier forces during the war. More than 70 Kentuckians, including Daniel Boone’s son Israel, died in a skirmish that lasted just a few minutes.
Farther along the road, there’s a lot more history to learn about. In Boyle County, Dave visits the Perryville Battlefield, site of another bloody battle—this one the largest Civil War engagement in Kentucky. (There’s more about the Battle of Perryville in Kentucky Life Program 210 and Program 911.) He also tastes a little of what pioneer life was like in Harrodsburg, the first permanent white settlement west of the Alleghenies, and explores the contributions of the Shakers to Kentucky’s history and crafts tradition at the restored communities of Pleasant Hill, just south of Harrodsburg in Mercer County, and South Union, out west in Logan County. In Western Kentucky, Civil War-era sites in Russellville and Bowling Green remind us that the area was a Confederate stronghold. For a time, in fact, Bowling Green was Kentucky’s “Confederate state capital.”
As fascinating as the “official” historic sites may be, though, what’s a road trip without a few stops that are just for fun? Just outside Paris in Bourbon County, Dave stops at the Bourbon Drive-In, a blast from the past that’s been operating since the days of poodle skirts. In the heart of horse country, he spends time along Lexington’s Main Street, where a long-time businessman remembers the heyday of downtown. The big-band era comes back to life with tours of Buella Vista, a former Metcalfe County resort, and Lost River Cave, where patrons could dine and dance to jazz underground. Grandma’s Cupboard in Todd County provides a taste of Kentucky’s Amish country. Later, a sailing expedition on Kentucky Lake brings fresh air and scenic beauty.
Of course, what really makes any trip worthwhile are the people. On this journey, we meet young golf champ Whitney Wade, a couple who’ve been married for three-quarters of a century, amateur historians, and front-porch philosophers. We even “meet” a Kentuckian who has achieved a unique kind of immortality: Bowling Green native Duncan Hines, who parlayed a love for travel and good food into something of a publishing empire (favorable mention in his guidebooks was much sought-after by restaurant owners of the 1930s and ’40s, and Hines later published two cookbooks of his own), as well as the packaged-food company that bears his name.
In one stop that Hines himself would no doubt approve, Dave visits a family farm where one of the products is old-fashioned homemade country ham. That’s him on the left in the photo, diving into a sample of the results. After all, it wouldn’t be polite not to try some, right?
|< Previous Program | Next Program >|