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Jun 12, 2009


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Mary West is my mother in law and she has been visiting with us this week. She arrived on Monday night and on Tuesday afternoon, we began a 2 day trip to Blue Lick Battleground State Resort Park in Northern Kentucky. Using coupons from Pepsi we spent 2 nights at the lodge and traveled around the area visiting museums, fishing in the Ohio River, seeing train depots, and photographing barn quilts. That was quite a bit to pack into the short trip! The lodge at the state park is very nice with decks or patios off of each room. It appears to be a newer lodge. The view from the deck was beautiful but it was hard to photograph due to rain and fog. Even with the rain, I was able to steal a few minutes to sit on the deck and strum on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. It was a perfect place to be.

Day 1 - We visited Old Washington, an historic area on the southern edge of Maysville. Tim and I had been there years ago on a field trip so I was somewhat familiar with the town. We toured the Paxton Inn, an old building that was purportedly a "safe" stop on the underground railroad. I say this because people kept no written records which could have been used to convict them if they were arrested for harboring slaves. The Inn has a large kitchen and dining room on the lower floor and the upstairs was an open room where travelers could spend the night. There were 2 beds. Once the beds were full, then you could sleep on the floor. Space was allotted on a first come, first serve basis and it was full when there was no longer any space left on which to sleep.
...Fleeing slaves did not sleep in the beds or on the floors because they had to be hidden. The basement of the Inn could have been a hiding place and they might have been hidden under false bottom barrels or other supplies that were stored in that area.
Inside the house, hidden behind a pie safe or cupboard, there was a hidden stairway to the upper room. There is controversy over whether this was a servants' stairway or a hiding place. The owner of the Inn was an abolitionist. I suspect that it may have been built for servants and possibly used for both purposes. I was not allowed to photograph the stairway, a rule set by the DAR who owns the Inn.
In the photo you see Larry, Mary, and the tour guide who led us through the Inn and presented the story in first person, as it might have been told by a run away slave. Her great grandfather was a slave in the area who escaped to the north and returned to the area after slavery was abolished. He actually owned and worked part of the farm on which he had served since his birth. Her brother now owns that farm.
...In the dining room of the Inn there hang several period quilts that are thought to have been used as a means of communicating safety to those seeking freedom. They have hidden messages built into them that would tell if the house was a "safe house", if there were clothing or food available, and even giving directions to go north. The north star was a very important tool. The quilts would be hung on a fence or hung out of a window as housekeepers would hang them out to "air" during the day. They may also have been hung on a chair by a window where they could be seen. Can you find the star in the quilt below that says that this is not a "safe house"?

And another quilt, which you can find clues within it's patterns; this one is very intricate and harder to decipher:

...There are many other historic buildings in Old Washington and there is a tour that covers all of them, which lasts about 2 hours. We only took the Inn tour because it was raining and the walkway is very uneven. Here are some photos of other buildings:

...After leaving Old Washington, we traveled into Maysville to see the Amtrak Station. We also found the National Slavery to Freedom Museum, but sadly it is only open on the weekends. I wondered if it were because of lack of support. I have read that because of the lack of written records, support is fragile for this type of endeavor.

...On to Dover, KY, an old river town, full of historic buildings that need restoration. We wound our way around to the town park which is on the river. Here we waited for an hour or so while Tim got in his fishing fix. He caught 2 nice size bass. The largest was about 13.5". PHOTO BY TIM WEST

...After Dover we followed a map to see several covered bridges. The Dover Bridge is the only one still in use in the state of Kentucky.


The following is the only privately owned covered bridge in Kentucky.

...Flemming County has their own quilt trail with a map that Larry picked up at the Maysville visitor's center. Their trail is dedicated to the courageous pioneer women who settled in the area.


You can see more bridges and barn quilt photos on my facebook pages!

...At the end of the day, we returned to the lodge to rest for the night.

Day 2 - On Thursday, we left the State Park after breakfast and traveled into Paris, KY. There is an old train depot which you can see in the following photos. Passenger service is no longer available but the lines are still used for freight. The depot is historic and badly needs to be restored.

The small towns of KY are filled with old, historic buildings and beautiful mansions along tree lined streets that have been well kept. There are also many that could be restored to their original beauty. After leaving Paris, we traveled west on state highways through Georgetown, Frankfort, and Shelbyville. We stopped for an early dinner at Claudia Sander's Dinner House, which was delicious!


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