For more information:
• Bluegrass Grill, 3505 Winchester Avenue, Ashland, KY 41101, (606) 324-3923
Along Highway 60
Part 1: Catlettsburg to Middletown | Part 2: Louisville to Wickliffe
This expanded edition of Kentucky Life finds host Dave Shuffett and his canine companion, Sadie, taking a drive along U.S. 60 from one end of Kentucky to the other, tooling along in the spirit of the pre-interstate days, when getting there really was half the fun.
To make sure he travels the entire Kentucky length of the highway, Dave starts at Virginia Point Park in Kenova, WV, just across the border from the oil-refining town of Catlettsburg. Then it’s just a short hop to Ashland and the first stop: the Bluegrass Grill. At this old-fashioned diner, founded by Francis and Arch Riggall just after World War II, you can still get homemade pie served up by a carhop. Rannie Cooper, who now owns the place with his wife, Charlene, has been working there since he was 15.
Should you overindulge a little at the Bluegrass, there are plenty of chances to hike off the extra calories a little farther west, in Carter County. The county seat of Grayson is known as the “heart of the parks” because it’s within a few miles of Carter Caves, Greenbo, and Grayson Lake state parks. Dave stretches his legs at the Grayson Lake Nature Trail, maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Then it’s back in the car to seek out some human-made beauty at Morehead State University’s Kentucky Folk Art Center.
The Folk Art Center houses a permanent collection of more than 700 pieces and hosts special exhibits. It opened in 1997 in a former grocery store. A particularly good time to visit is during Morehead’s annual Appalachian Celebration, a week-long festival of traditional arts, crafts, and lifeways held during the last full week of June every year since 1976.
Next, Dave does a little exploring on horseback at Rudy’s Ranch and Horse Camp, where you can ride from Menifee County over into Bath and check out Cave Run Lake. Hitting the road again, he meets two more of the many interesting people along the highway. Wilburn “Tip” Tipton, a collector of clocks, razors, and musical instruments, is known far and wide—at least in Montgomery County—as the singing barber of Mount Sterling. And artist Holly VanMeter, who lives in a converted Clark County carriage house, grows a profusion of flowers that in turn inspire her watercolors.
We’ve now passed from the mountains to the Bluegrass, and there’s no better symbol for the transition than our next stop: Lexington’s Calumet Farm. Dave learns a little of its storied history from farm manager Tony Cissell. Another animal lover is next, as Dave talks to Janet Neat of Animal Helpers. This Woodford County organization operates a “halfway house” for stray cats, helping them to find new homes and making sure they get neutered or spayed.
Continuing west, U.S. 60 dips into the Kentucky River Valley at Frankfort, whose rolling hills create lots of scenic views. Dave and Sadie start their tour of the state capital at the Frankfort Cemetery, burial place of pioneer Daniel Boone, artist Paul Sawyier, Vice President Richard M. Johnson, and 17 Kentucky governors. Then they pose for snapshots in front of the capitol building. Completed in 1910 and modeled after the national capitol, it features 70 Ionic columns, decorative murals, and statues of dignitaries inside, plus lush landscaping and the famous floral clock outside.
Before leaving Frankfort, be sure to check out another historic graveyard. At the Greenhill Cemetery on the corner of Main Street and U.S. 60, you’ll find a monument to Kentucky’s African-American Civil War veterans. The only such memorial in the state, it was erected in 1924 by the Colored Women’s Relief Corps.
Also worth a visit is Smitty’s Trading Post, where Carlon Smith can set you up with anything from hub caps for an astonishing variety of cars to antique toys and engines.
Another horse farm is next on the list. Unlike Calumet, though, Walnut Way Farm in Shelbyville raises saddlebreds. Marilyn Macfarlane explains the differences between these horses and their thoroughbred cousins during our visit.
No road trip is complete without a little shopping, at least of the window variety, so Dave next stops in at Head House Antiques in Middletown. The building itself qualifies as an antique: It was constructed in 1812 of native stone from the hills around Middletown. And it was built to last—those stone walls are two feet thick.
Middletown (apparently so named because it was midway between Louisville and Shelbyville) was established in 1797. In the early 1930s, when the route for U.S. 60 was being planned, Middletown residents were incensed that the road was to go around, rather than through, their town. They feared that being bypassed by the highway would be the death of Middletown. Today, of course, the fact that it ended up a little off the main road is credited as the reason Middletown has been able to preserve so many of the historic structures that modern-day visitors come to see.
Now it’s on to Part 2 of our journey, which takes us from Louisville to Wickliffe ...
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