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Program 1109

1. Floracliff Nature Preserve
2. Howard Steamboat Museum
3. stone carver Tim Lewis
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Season 11 Menu

Fayette County

For more information:
Floracliff Nature Sanctuary, P.O. Box 4006, Lexington, KY 40544, (859) 351-7770

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

Nature on the Rocks

Floracliff Nature Preserve

While teaching at Georgetown College in the late 1950s, nationally known botanist Mary E. Wharton began buying some land along Elk Lick Creek, a tributary of the Kentucky River in southern Fayette County. Wharton has since passed away, but the lovely spot she identified as a good place for botanical and ecological research has become the Floracliff Nature Preserve, jointly administered by an independent board of trustees and the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission.

The site features a gorge-like valley, typical of many feeder streams along the Kentucky River Palisades; mixed hardwood forest and an abundance of wildflowers (a particular specialty of Wharton’s); diverse and plentiful aquatic life; and one unusual geological feature: a tufa formation or “petrified waterfall” that’s among the largest in the eastern United States. Like cave formations, these rippled walls are created over the course of eons, as minerals left behind by individual drops of water slowly build up. The Floracliff example, composed primarily of travertine and located at the junction of Kettle Springs Branch and Falls Creek Branch, is 61 feet high and 8-12 feet in diameter.

On this visit, preserve manager Carey Ruff shows us around some of Floracliff’s 287 acres. Hikes and other events are scheduled at various times of the year, and research proposals are welcomed. Otherwise, visitation to the preserve is by appointment only and is restricted to small groups with pre-approved leaders.

Southern Indiana

For more information:
Howard Steamboat Museum, 1101 E. Market St., Jeffersonville, IN 47130, (888) 472-0606

Producer, videographer: Dave Shuffett

Full Steam Ahead

Howard Steamboat Museum

The first steam-powered boat arrived in Louisville on October 28, 1811. Within the decade, steamboats were beginning to take over a significant share of America’s freight-hauling business from the older flatboats. By the 1840s, as railroads also began to compete for that trade, riverboats began adding frills for passengers, with some eventually advertised as “floating palaces” promising a journey in the lap of luxury. Later variations included the showboats, which brought mobile musical theater to towns along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

Through it all, Greater Louisville was a riverboat hub. The Falls of the Ohio, the only significant obstacle to navigation from Pittsburgh to the Mississippi, was circumvented by one small canal in the 1830s, but larger boats often had to stop and wait for higher water to get past the falls. Many simply treated Louisville as the end of the line, offloading their cargo, either for portage around the falls or for transfer to railcars, before heading back the way they’d come. At the height of the riverboat era, the Falls City saw as many as 2,400 arrivals and departures per year, and freight warehouses and shipping facilities lined the riverbank for miles.

Meanwhile, across the river, the Howard family of Jeffersonville, IN was building boats. 19-year-old James Howard built his first hull in 1834, and he and his successors built the Howard Shipyard and Dock Co. into one of the biggest inland boat construction and repair operations in the country. The company operated three busy yards and turned out the grandest of the grand steamboats for decades.

The Howards also built an impressive family home—a massive brick and limestone mansion with a grand staircase, stained glass windows, brass chandeliers, intricately carved wood, and other Victorian-era luxuries. Today that mansion would be worth visiting for the architecture and furnishings alone. But as host Dave Shuffett discovers on this visit, it also houses the Howard Steamboat Museum, which holds a large collection of rare models, artifacts, and photographs. He gets a personal tour from museum administrator Yvonne Knight, who points out some of its treasures from the heyday of the riverboat.

That heyday lasted until around World War I, when the advent of the internal combustion engine and highways finally put an end to the era of routine travel by water. The Howard company facilities sat idle for a while before being taken over by the U.S. Navy for World War II shipbuilding. They have since been sold to Jeffboat, still a leading manufacturer of barges, towboats—and even, once again, luxury steamboats, this time for vacation cruising.

Elliott County

For more information:
• c/o Kentucky Folk Art Center, 102 W. First St., Morehead, KY 40351, (606) 783-2204

Producer: Jeffrey Hill
Videographer: Daniel V. Conrad
Editors: Daniel V. Conrad, Jeffrey Hill

Set in Stone

Stone carver Tim Lewis

Sculptor Tim Lewis of Elliott County literally turns disaster into art: He gets much of the stone for his impressive carvings by salvaging the chimneys of houses that have burned down. In his hands, they become animals, reliefs of Biblical figures, or even figures from popular culture.

Tim lives in Isonville, in a house he built himself just up the road from the one where he was born. A self-reliant sort, he also taught himself art, taking up carving after an accident ended his logging career. Of course, he did have the encouragement of family members and friends as well as two knowledgeable neighbors—renowned folk artists Minnie and Garland Adkins.

Today, examples of Tim’s work can be found in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution; the Kentucky Folk Art Center in Morehead; the Columbus (OH) Museum of Art; the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art; the Mennello Museum in Orlando, FL; and numerous private collections. And when you visit Atlanta, check out the specially commissioned original Tim Lewis in Olympic Park.

SEASON 11 PROGRAMS: 1101110211031104110511061107
110811091110: Wild and Scenic Kentucky11111112

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