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Producer, videographer: Gale Worth
A Fort Harrod Holiday
In this special edition of Kentucky Life, host Dave Shuffett visits Harrodsburg for a peaceful respite from the modern world’s holiday-time hustle and bustle.
In fact, you can’t get much farther from the modern world than Old Fort Harrod State Park, which commemorates Kentucky’s first permanent settlement. A group of 32 frontiersmen, led by James Harrod of Pennsylvania, first laid out a town here in 1774, but then abandoned it because of frequent Indian raids. They returned the next year and built a more substantial fort, and “Harrod’s Town” has been occupied ever since—making it the oldest permanent white settlement west of the Alleghenies. The modern state park, with its reconstructed cabins and fortifications, opened in 1927.
On our visit, Dave learns some of this history in the company of Park Superintendent Joan Huffman, touring the grounds by the light of hundreds of luminaries set out for the holiday season. Then it’s across the road to the Mansion Museum, an 1830s Greek Revival home decorated for a Victorian Christmas. Carolers, a visit with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, and a sparkling display of Christmas trees donated and decorated by various organizations add to the festive atmosphere.
Old Fort Harrod State Park, located in Mercer County about 30 miles southwest of Lexington on U.S. 68, is open year-round except for Thanksgiving Day and one week at the end of the year. From mid-April through October, visitors can tour a “Living History” display featuring costumed craftspeople demonstrating pioneer-style weaving, basket making, blacksmithing, and other practical arts. Other attractions include the cabin where Abraham Lincoln’s parents were married (the event took place a few counties west, near present-day Springfield, but the cabin was moved here for preservation) and an outdoor drama during the summer.
You can see more of the fort and learn about frontier life in our Electronic Field Trip to Fort Harrod and Fort Boonesborough.
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