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Program 1202

1. the River Heritage Museum
2. Kentucky Down Under
3. woodcarver LaVon Williams
4. air dogs
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Season 12 Menu

McCracken County

For more information:
River Discovery Center, 117 S. Water St., Paducah, KY 42001, (270) 575-9958

Producer, editor: Joy Flynn
Videographer: Amelia Cutadean
Audio: Noel Bramblett

Watery History

the River Heritage Museum

Editor's note: The museum is now called the River Discovery Center.

Paducah’s location at the junction of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers gave the city life and has provided much of its livelihood throughout its history. So it’s only fitting that its oldest surviving building is now dedicated to preserving that heritage.

The River Heritage Museum offers exhibits on all aspects of rivers, from the biology of river banks and bottoms to a restored 1920s calliope that recalls the heyday of the grand passenger steamboats. The workaday river is much in evidence, too: Visitors can try their hands at loading a barge, operating a hydroelectric dam, or navigating through a lock.

Our tour of the museum is led by Executive Director Julie Harris, who also points out some of the interior details that make this museum an architectural as well as a historical attraction. The River Heritage Museum occupies the Petter Building, a two-story Greek Revival structure built around 1843 to house a bank. A special grant from the National Park Service helped preserve and restore the building, which still has its original floors and fireplaces, molded lintels, parapet end walls, and grand staircase. Two rooms decked out with period furnishings can be rented for meetings or other events.

The River Heritage Museum is open Monday through Saturday year-round, plus Sundays from April to November.

Hart County

For more information:
Kentucky Down Under, 3700 L&N Turnpike Road, Horse Cave, KY 42749-0189, (800) 762-2869

Producer, editor: D. Anthony Noel
Videographers: David Brinkley, Arin Althaus

Kentucky’s Outback

Kentucky Down Under

Bill Austin’s family has owned Kentucky Caverns in Hart County (formerly known as Mammoth Onyx Cave) since the 1920s. His wife, Judy, grew up on a sheep ranch in Australia. Together, they run a unique private park where you can go “down under” the ground to see stalagmites and stalactites—or stay up top and visit with the animals and culture of the Land Down Under.

The 45-minute walking tour of Kentucky Caverns offers the chance to see formations like massive columns and draperies and “cave coral”—impressive, but not that unusual in this land of many caves. But walk around above ground, and you may think you’ve suddenly been transported to the other side of the world. Kookaburras call, lorikeets land on your head to beg for nectar, and kangaroos and wallabies abound. In fact, staff members can often be seen carrying the babies (known as joeys) in pouches like mother kangaroos, the better to acclimate them to human visitors.

Since Kentucky Life’s previous visit (in Program 812), Kentucky Down Under has expanded its offerings on Australian life and culture. One of the newer areas, Taraba Station, features domestic animals like donkeys, goats, and rabbits and traces the effect they had on Australia’s native fauna after they were introduced by European settlers.

Fayette County

For more information:
• LaVon Williams, c/o Kentucky Folk Art Center, 102 W. 1st St., Morehead, KY 40351, (606) 783-2204

Producer: Jeffrey Hill
Videographer/editor: Daniel V. Conrad

A Culture Carved in Wood

artist LaVon Williams

Our next segment is also an update, as we check back in with woodcarver LaVon Williams, previously seen in Kentucky Life Program 105.

LaVon creates reliefs and three-dimensional pieces depicting churchgoers, jazz musicians, dancing couples, and other familiar figures from urban African-American life. While carrying on a family tradition of woodcarving that goes back five generations, he is keenly aware that he is helping to preserve a cultural legacy, too. “African-American art is passed from one generation to the next,” he explains. “Those who can truly teach it are slowly passing away.”

Born in Lakeland, FL, LaVon has stayed on in Lexington since attending the University of Kentucky, where he also was a member of the 1978 national champion basketball team. His artwork has been seen in the 1994 film Deep Cover and in a national touring show of art inspired by dance as well as at the Kentucky Folk Art Center. He also created the logo for the National Black Libraries Association.

Shelby County

For more information: has event schedules and results, articles about champion dogs, and other information about the sport.

Producer, videographer: Dave Shuffett
Editor: Jay Akers

Canine Athletics

diving dogs

Kentucky Life host Dave Shuffett, a well-known dog lover, wraps up this edition by checking out the latest thing in canine sports: dock diving. At a competition held at Buffalo Crossing Ranch in Shelby County, these “air dogs” dive off a dock into a pond in pursuit of an object thrown by their handler, with the longest leap winning.

Dock diving, invented just a few years ago, has caught on rapidly and is now one of the most popular events in ESPN’s annual Great Outdoor Games. Dave meets a celebrity dog, world champion Little Morgan, and his handler, Mike Jackson, a former Kentuckian.

Carter County

For more information:
Carter Caves State Resort Park, 344 Caveland Dr., Olive Hill, KY 41164-9032, (606) 286-4411, reservations (800) 325-0059

On Location

Carter Caves

Dave and his own dogs, Sadie and Charlie, host this edition from Carter Caves State Resort Park. Kentucky Life previously explored the park in Program 605.

SEASON 12 PROGRAMS: 120112021203120412051206120712081209121012111212
1213121412151216121712181219122012211222: Dr. Clark’s Kentucky Treasures

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