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Program 1916

1. The Great Saltpetre Cave
2. Historical Marker 718—Cardome Center
3. Black Bear
4. Today's Special—Billy Ray's
5. Cotton in Kentucky
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Season 19 Menu

Rockcastle County

For more information:
The Rockcastle Karst Conservancy: The Great Saltpetre Preserve

Producer: Dave Shuffett
Videographer: Charles Watson
Editor: Jim Piston

More Like This From Kentucky Life: Cub Run Cave

The Great Saltpetre Cave

Dave Shuffett takes a rare look inside the Great Saltpetre Cave in Rockcastle County. Gated and closed to visitors except for rare occasions, the cave is protected as part of the Great Saltpetre Preserve.

Settlers became aware of the cave after its discovery by John Baker in 1798. Baker, his wife, and their children were lost inside the cave when their torch went out. It was two days before they found their way out. During the War of 1812, the cave was a vital source of saltpeter, a component of gunpowder. It was also mined during the Mexican-American War and the Civil War, with the Union soldiers who worked the cave also living in it.

It became a tourist attraction in the 1940s, and, thanks to great acoustics of the domed Echo Auditorium, was the site of broadcasts of Renfro Valley shows. The cave was open until the mid-1970s for tours, dances, and weddings.

Today the preserve includes 306 acres of mountain woodland. The preserve is maintained by the Greater Cincinnati Grotto, Blue Grass Grotto and the Dayton Underground Grotto; only members of these grottos have keys to the cave. The Rockcastle Karst Conservancy works to preserve the delicate ecosystems found in the underground limestone caverns, sinkholes and streams.

The cave is open to the public for an annual open house the third weekend in May; it is also open for reserved tours.

Scott County

For more information:
Cardome Center

Producer/Editor: Jim Piston

Historical Marker 718—Cardome Center

Scott County's Cardome Center was once the home of Civil War Governor James F. Robinson, who served only a year in office.

Robinson, then a state senator, was called to duty after Kentucky's pro-Confederate governor, Beriah Magoffin, refused President Lincoln's call for Kentucky troops. Magoffin wanted to resign and he wanted Robinson, who was loyal to the Union but also pro-slavery, to replace him. To make Robinson next in line for the governorship, he first had to be elected Speaker of the Senate. It was done, Magoffin resigned, and Robinson became governor.

After his time as governor, Robinson served as a trustee of Georgetown College. He lived here at Cardome from 1844 until his death in 1882.

Eventually, Robinson's heirs sold Cardome to an order of cloistered nuns, who established a well-known and well-regarded school for girls here in 1896. Cardome Academy closed in 1969, and Toyota gave $1 million to a local nonprofit organization to buy the property and turn it into a community center.

Rowan County

For more information:
You Are Not Alone Network

Producer: Valerie Trimble Videographer: David Dampier
Audio: Roger Tremaine
Editor: Jim Piston

Black Bear

Black Bear is a Native American potter, a member of the Blackfoot tribe of Montana, now living and working in Morehead. Black Bear learned how to work with clay from the potters of New Mexico's Santa Clara Pueblo. He uses native clays of Kentucky and New Mexico, mixing them with mica or volcanic ash, and builds his pieces with rolled clay coils.

Works by Black Bear can be found at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea. He previously has lectured at Morehead State University's Department of Art, and he is vice president of the board of the Kentucky Center for Native American Arts and Culture.

In addition to his pottery, Black Bear counsels at-risk youth, particularly those on the reservations, and is involved with youth suicide prevention through the You Are Not Alone Network.

Floyd County

For more information:
Billy Ray's Restaurant on Facebook

Producer/Editor: Rob Elliott
Videographer: John Bacon
Audio: David Dampier

Today's Special—Billy Ray's

Prestonburg's Billy Ray's restaurant is serving Today's Special. Hearty and delicious daily specials, home-style cooking, friendly service, and great desserts make Billy Ray's the popular choice for family dining.

Comfort food is Billy Ray's specialty. You'll find chicken and dumplings and meatloaf made from scratch. You can enjoy classics like liver and onions, soup beans and fried potatoes, and stuffed green peppers the way your grandma made them. Desserts like peach cobbler and lemon cake hit the sweet spot.

You can also start your day here with old-fashioned country breakfasts of bacon, eggs, biscuits and more, all made for hungry people with a hard day's work ahead of them.

Hickman County

Producer/Editor: Paul Smith
Videographer: John Schroering
Audio: Charles Watson

Cotton in Kentucky

When we think of cotton fields, we think of the Deep South. But in the western region of Kentucky, farmers have been growing cotton for generations. Kentucky is on the far northern border of cotton production, and these farmers typically grow it in addition to their other crops of corn, wheat and soybeans.

The United States is the third largest producer of cotton in the world today, and Kentucky is among the 17 states growing cotton.

Cotton was grown in Western Kentucky for years until the 1970s, but it started making a small comeback as an alternative crop in the past decade. Cotton is easier to harvest now than it was then, and the disease resistance of the crop is improved, according to the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

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