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Contents:
Program 702

1. the prehistoric Wickliffe Mounds
2. Lexington’s Horse Mania
3. the Jefferson Memorial Forest
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Ballard County

For more information:
Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site, 94 Green St., Wickliffe, KY 42087, (270) 335-3681

Producer, videographer: Ernie Lee Martin


Life on the Mississippi

Wickliffe Mounds

Kentucky is a land of rolling hills. But in the western part of the state, not all of them are natural. The region includes several sites that were home to the prehistoric Mississippian people, who built huge earthwork mounds to serve as platforms for temples and as burial chambers. To lead off this program, host Dave Shuffett visits the largest and most famous of these sites in Kentucky: Ballard County’s Wickliffe Mounds.

The Mississippians, who inhabited the area from about 800 to 1300 A.D., had no writing system, so knowledge of them has to be pieced together from the physical material they left behind. What archaeologists have learned so far is that the mound sites functioned largely as ceremonial centers. The people lived in small villages and farmed, growing corn as their staple crop. But they also had a thriving trade network. The objects recovered from their sites are made from raw materials from as far away as Wisconsin and the Gulf of Mexico.

The first excavations at Wickliffe Mounds were carried out privately in the 1930s by Paducah businessman Fain King, who owned the land. His motives weren’t exactly scientific, though: King and his wife ran a tourist trade at the mounds until 1946, billing the site rather grandiosely—and inaccurately—as an “Ancient Buried City.” Fain finally passed the site on to a Paducah hospital.

In 1983, the hospital donated it to Murray State University, which established a research center and began carrying out a more comprehensive and scientific program of excavation and interpretation. Today, Wickliffe Mounds Historic Site is administered by the state parks system, with an on-site museum and a hands-on education center.

The Wickliffe Mounds are located on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, a few miles south of its confluence with the Ohio.

Watch This Story (7:29)




Fayette County

For more information:
LexArts, 161 N. Mill St., Lexington, KY 40507, (859) 255-2951

Producers: Joy Flynn, Elizabeth Ramirez
Videographers: Lee Delaney, Scott Neukam
Editor: Joy Flynn


All the Pretty Horses

Horse Mania in Lexington

During the summer and fall of 2000, the streets of Lexington were invaded by a herd of horses. These particular equines were definitely “wild,” though not in the usual sense. Sporting everything from sunglasses made of sunflowers to painted street scenes to fake but amazingly realistic stone masonry, they were the 79 entries in Horse Mania, a public art project of the Lexington Arts and Cultural Council.

Modeled after similar projects that have brought cows to the streets of Chicago and New York, pigs to Cincinnati, and other animals to other cities, Horse Mania invited artists to decorate fiberglass horse statues—two poses were available—with whatever they could paint, glue, or plaster on. (Our visit shows several artists at work on their creations at Lexington’s Artists Attic.) The horses were then sent out on the streets to be admired.

And they were. Downtown Lexington, which hosted the largest concentration of the equine artworks, saw a tremendous increase in foot traffic. The project was undoubtedly also a boon to local film-developing services, as many people made it their summertime mission to take their own or their children’s pictures with every one of the 79 statues.

Lexington’s streets seem a little emptier now. The Horse Mania horses were auctioned off in December 2000, raising about $750,000 for the arts council and its member organizations, and their new owners’ plans for them may or may not include public display. But the project organizers—and all those who found a new reason to walk around town and soak up a little art with their summer sunshine—count it a great success.

Watch This Story (8:38)




Jefferson County

For more information:
Jefferson Memorial Forest, P.O. Box 467, Fairdale, KY 40118, (502) 368-5404

Producer, videographer: Dave Shuffett
Editor: Dan Taulbee


An Urban Outing

Jefferson Memorial Forest

It has miles of hiking trails wandering through 5,000 acres of pristine forest and has been designated a National Audubon Wildlife Refuge. And in winter, when the trees are bare, the tops of some of the tallest hills afford scenic views of ... downtown Louisville.

The final segment for this episode of Kentucky Life is a visit to the largest piece of land owned by any local government in the country: the Jefferson Memorial Forest. Noting that recreational opportunities in southwestern Jefferson County were somewhat sparse, the Jefferson Fiscal Court began the process of purchasing land to establish an urban forest in 1945. The original management plan also called for commercial logging, but that never really materialized. Instead, the small amounts of timber cut over the years have been used within the forest itself. Today, the relative intactness of the woods and the presence of a small man-made lake, Tom Wallace Lake, make it a haven for wildlife.

The “Memorial” part of the forest’s name comes from the fact that it was originally dedicated, in 1948, to the veterans of World War II. It has since been rededicated to the veterans of all foreign wars.

Watch This Story (6:10)


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