Home .. Email .. Articles .. Simply .. Links
The Golden Triangle
January 11, 2004
Kentucky’s golden triangle is anchored to the east by Bardstown, an architectural jewel; to the west by Elizabethtown, an exquisite link in the chain; to the north Fort Knox where the proverbial “pot” of gold lies behind fortified walls. The triangle offers lots to do and see and is within an hour’s drive of Louisville to the north and several hour’s motoring from the State of Tennessee to the south.
At the triangle’s eastern point, Bardstown can be accessed by the Blue Grass Parkway but the best way to experience mid-Kentucky landscape, see small villages, meet friendly people and enjoy down-home cooking is to drive the byways, in particular Highway #62.
To take full advantage of your time, and assuming that you’ll begin your visit in Bardstown, your first stop should be at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information Center located just off Court House Square where a video presentation introduces you to the community.
Bardstown’s historic central square, bisected by Third Street -North and South & Stephen Foster - East and West, is the hub of the community of 30,000 friendly folks. It’s apparent that built heritage is appreciated and maintained. Nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings share space with a few structures that date to the late eighteenth century. Using the handy walking tour pamphlet, look for the c1814 McLean House - c1857 George Washington Hite Law Office - c1800/1810 Adam Anthony House & Shop - c1927 John Fitch Monument - c1911 Crystal Building - c1900 Johnson Building - c1820 Nelson County Jail -c1794 Old Talbot Tavern - c1835 Sisco Carriage Shop - c1830 Kinkhead-Wickliffe House with beehive shaped smokehouse behind it and a c1785-1856 pioneer cemetery.
Stores, for the most part, are housed in restored buildings, all fine examples of 19th century commercial architecture. Among those businesses, Bardstown Booksellers has two floors to browse along with a great candy counter and gift area. Hurst Discount Drugs has been a fixture on main street since 1900. It’s most compelling feature is “The Fountain on Court House Square”, an original soda fountain and lunch counter. Try their famous chicken salad or pimento cheese sandwiches, iced tea and pecan praline ice cream. Two can eat here for under $10.00.
Other recommended eatery are Dagwoods and The Spicy Lemon for lunch, both on North Third Street. For hearty appetites, and a taste of “southern cooking”, the Stephen Foster Restaurant, with its buffet-style service, is located on Stephen Foster West. You can’t visit Bardstown without dining on My Old Kentucky Home Dinner Train, not to be confused with the Railway Museum. This dining experience is so popular that reservations are a must. Three course lunches, and five course dinners are served on restored dining cars as the train passes through pretty “bourbon country”.
Within walking distance of the square on West Stephen Foster, the spire of St. Joseph Proto- Cathedral dominate the landscape. Begun in 1816, the building was consecrated in 1819, the first church west of the Allegany Mountains. For the occasion, paintings, that still hang in the church, were sent as gifts from Francis 1, King of the Two Sicilies and Pope Leo X11. The edifice is usually open to the general public and has knowledgeable guides that can answer your questions.
Spalding Hall, located just behind the cathedral, houses the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History and the Bardstown Historical Museum. The building, with chapel, was in c1826 St. Joseph College and Seminary. It’s subsequent history includes that of being a hospital for both sides during the Civil War, an orphanage during the early 1900's and a Preparatory School from 1911 through 1968. Even if you don’t drink, a visit to the Oscar Getz Museum is a must just to see the extensive collection of pottery, bottles, pictures and other artifacts associated with whiskey making. One of the most unique artifacts in the Historical Museum, housed in the original chapel, is the collection of Cherokee Indian artifacts which include a magnificent decorated coat.
Everyone who visits Bardstown should experience My Old Kentucky Home State Park, location of c1818 “Federal Hill”. The residence that belonged to a cousin of composer Stephen Foster, was the inspiration for his famous song - “My Old Kentucky Home”. During the summer, “Stephen Foster - The Musical” is mounted at the Dan Talbot Amphitheater. Foster’s music is front and centre in this popular, high-spirited presentation. To avoid disappointment, it is recommended that tickets are purchased well in advance of your visit.
Other things to see and do around Bardstown include tours and displays, offered at a number of area distilleries. Museums focus railroad history, the Civil War, Women of the Civil War, Wild Life & Natural History. Visitors enjoy touring Old Bardstown Village, the Old County Jail and “Wickland” home of three governors.
Religious orders established themselves in and near Bardstown soon after the cathedral was built. The Abbey of Gethsemani south of Bardstown at Trappist, is famous for its fudge, fruit cake and cheese. 90% of their business is by mail order. Nazareth Arts for Life, Heritage Hall and c1854 St. Vincent de Paul church are open to the public at Nazareth Mother House for the Sisters of Charity several miles north of Bardstown.
Of special note is the Kentucky Train Museum located in New Haven, thirteen miles south of Bardstown. This facility has an excellent display of railroad memorabilia and a stellular model trains exhibit. It’s in this museum that you learn about “Honey Pots” and “Gandy Dancers”. During the summer months visitors enjoy a twenty-two mile train ride through pretty Kentucky countryside.
Bardstown and area is noted for its special events. These include the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in September - an Arts, Crafts and Antique Fair mid-October - Christmas ‘Round Bardstown in December - My Old Kentucky Home Festival in late March and The Iron Horse Festival in September in New Haven.
While in the area take time to visit Bloomfield which lies twelve miles east of Bardstown. This community which boasts no mall-sprawl and has a nice restored main street, is best known for its official state Tobacco Festival which is held annually in October and includes the state pipe smoking contest. Bloomfield’s cemetery is home to a famous grave, that of Jeroboam Beauchamp and his wife Ann. A plaque in the local cemetery gives insight into their sad tale.
Elizabethtown, the second point of the golden triangle, lies thirty miles west of Bardstown, on #62 which winds through a unique Kentucky landscape feature known as the “Knobs”. Elizabethtown is home to a number of excellent visitor attractions. Schmidt Museum of Coca Cola Memorabilia is located in the Visitor and Convention Bureau, right on #62, and marked by a soaring angular purple tower-sculpture attached to the building. Well displayed artifacts give a great “slice-of-life” view into the history of the popular soft drink as it unfolds through artifacts that include glasses, bottles, trays, advertisements, signage, light fixtures and coolers.
Another trip down memory lane involves a visit to Swope’s Cars of Yesteryear Museum, where approximately twenty antique and classic cars are on display. Each has been meticulously restored. Each is a beauty with a story to tell. Each visit provides a new experience as cars are rotated regularly from Swope’s extensive private collection. There is no admission charge to this excellent display.
Freeman Lake Park, a made-man lake in pretty surroundings and located right in Elizabethtown, offers swimming, boating, fishing and hiking. Energetic folks can rent a paddle boat and enjoy a leisurely tour of the lake. The c1892 Hardin County one-room school and Lincoln Heritage House are located in the park and open to the general public during the summer.
Historic walking and driving tour pamphlets are available at the Information Center. There are some excellent architectural features in the downtown area, one in particular, an Art Deco portico on the c1923 Joplin Hotel building. During the summer months, walking tours with costumed interpreters are presented on Thursday evenings. History is brought very much alive by energetic presenters who certainly know their history. For Civil War buffs, Cemetery Hill is worth a visit as it has a number of Civil War burial sites, including several graves that hold the remains of men who served with the Union’s Coloured Troops. While in the area, visit Glendale, a small railroad crossroads village with excellent antique, memorabilia and specialty shops only four miles south-west of Elizabethtown.
Clermont, to the north, is home to Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. Established in 1929 by Isaac Wolfe Bernheim, a German immigrant, the arboretum was a gift to the people of Kentucky. Visitors have a choice of activities. Contemplate quietly in a grove of oak, elm, buckeye or beech trees - enjoy stands of magnolia, lilac, witch-hazel and azalea - birdwatch - hike more than forty miles of paths, both leisurely and challenging - picnic in shady glens - take part in special seasonal activities - view wonderful outdoor sculptures - bicycle - fish - take in the art exhibits in the Visitor Center - browse the Nature-oriented gift shop - tour prairie and wetlands areas by foot or car. The visitor friendly Arboretum extends over 250 acres, with 14,000 acres in total belonging to the non-profit organization.
Exciting new attractions at Bernheim Arboretum, that can also be accessed via Highway #245 from Bardstown, include a new, super-green Visitor Center and an exciting interactive program that involves hand-held computerized units that will allow individuals not only to access information about what they are viewing but to have that material downloaded to their home computer, if desired.
Anchoring the third point in the triangle, the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor is located at Fort Knox just north of Radcliff. The purpose of this museum, named after General George S. Patton Jr., is to preserve historical material that relates to cavalry and armor. Its collection pertains to the First and Second World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and includes vehicles, weapons, uniforms, artwork and other memorabilia all displayed in chronological order. French, German, British, Russian and American vehicles are displayed. This museum will be of interest to anyone who has served in the armed forces, or who has studied armaments. As the attraction is located on the United States Armor Center in Fort Knox - a military base - be sure to have proper identification if planning a visit. You’ll be asked for it at the gates. Canadians should carry passports. Fort Knox is home to the “Gold Vault”. For obvious reasons visitors are not allowed anywhere near the Treasury.
There are a large number of accommodation choices in the Golden Triangle. These range from large “brand name” hotels and motels through quaint inns and charming bed and breakfast establishments. Several in the Bardstown area come highly recommended.
Springhill Winery & Plantation Bed and Breakfast, in Bloomfield just east of Bardstown, is situated close by the Blue Grass Parkway, and just off Highway #62. The oldest part of the house at Springhill is Federalist in design and dates c1857 with an addition that dates to a later Victoria period. The fully restored home is notable for interior wood trim around doors and windows. The home is surrounded by vineyards and has a wine and gift shop on the premises where the products of the vineyards are sold. Eddie O’Daniel, the charming owner and vintner, offers monthly and seasonal musical and theatrical events, all listed on his web site.
In Bardstown, A Rosemark Haven B & B occupies a spacious c1830 Federalist-style, red brick house with wide center halls, high ceilings, lovely fireplace surrounds, and exterior walls that are four bricks thick. The central staircase soars three floors to a glassed-in cupola atop a hipped roof. Known as “The Haven”, the main house had many tenants before being lovingly restored and opened as a first class bed and breakfast accommodation. The property consists of a number of buildings, one of them a two-storey former slave quarters that is due for the same quality restoration that the main house has undergone.
As with any trip, be sure to write for a comprehensive package of information before leaving home. Make reservations in advance for lodging, entertainments and specialty dining. You don’t want to be disappointed. Consider visiting when roads are less traveled and attractions not so crowded. Don’t rush through your visit. Set aside enough time to thoroughly enjoy Kentucky’s Golden Triangle.
IF YOU GO:
Bardstown, KY 40004
Bardstown, KY 40004
Bardstown, KY 40004
Bardstown, KY 40004
New Haven, KY
Bloomfield, KY 40005
Bardstown, KY 40004
Trappist, KY 40051-6102
Elizabethtown, KY 42701
Elizabethtown, KY 42701
Clermont, KY 40110-0130
Radcliff, KY 40159
Fort Knox, KY 40121
Copyright © 2005 Mestern.Net All rights reserved.