Monday, August 6, 2007

154. 237 miles each way - but I drove 723. This is Part One.

Google's directions for the trip from Louisville to Fancy Farm are pretty simple - 65 South to the WK West to I-24 West to the Purchase South to KY 80 West. 237 miles. I have a rule that in my road trips I try to follow. I actually have several but one of them is not to take the same route coming and going. I've written before of the twelve ways to get from Louisville to Frankfort.

I've been going down to Fancy Farm for many years and have seen many changes. And on many of those trips, especially the early ones, I was not in command of the route or the vehicle. Often I was with family, friends, a group such as the Young Democrats or the All Wool and a Yard Wide Democratic Club, or along as an aide in a campaign. My current boss reminded me his last time there was in 1983 and that I was there as well, the summer of politicking spent with the Martha Layne Collins campaign for governor.

I remember being there the year Al Gore came by as a candidate for Vice President. The history lessons tell us that Alben Barkley, born just a few miles north of Fancy Farm along KY 339 in the community of Loews, was a regular during his terms of office in McCracken County, later as a United States Congressman and Senator, as well as Vice President. I can remember the 1995 campaign for governor when Robin Engle was leading a group supporting Larry Forgy for governor, with not just signs, but also bullhorns and airhorns. The era of incivility was in place, ushered in under the direction of United States Senator Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr.

During most of the last ten years, I've driven myself, usually with one or two friends. I've taken my mother, my oldest niece and nephew, and a few others, including one year when my rider was an immigrant from Cuba and we drove a prized possession, a 1968 Cherry Red Mustang convertible (which since March of 2000 has sat in my mother's garage), which on the way back broke down in Irvington, Kentucky, where we had to put up for the night in what was then a motel (and now serves as a string of apartments), waiting for the "79 Auto Parts" place to open the next day in order to replace something that had to do with the alternator. (It might occur to you that Irvington does not fall upon the normal path from Fancy Farm to Louisville). The Mustang made its last trip, political or otherwise, in the 2000 Saint Patrick's Day Parade, transporting - up to a point - Eleanor Jordan, then a candidate for Congress, and Mary Lou Marzian, running for re-election as the 34th District State Representative. They had to walk the last few blocks sans Mustang in the rain. But, I digress.

Having gone to Fancy Farm so many times, I try to find different ways to get there. Other than the trip which ended in Irvington, I usually stick to normal directions upon the return. This year's trip there took me and my travelling companion south toward Bowling Green. I commented upon passing the turn-off to the WK West in Elizabethtown how elated I was not to be exiting at that point. [An aside: under my normal rules of spelling, that word exiting should have two Ts just as travelling has 2 Ls. However, I didn't like the way it looked].

We stayed south on I-65 to the Smith's Grove exit, where I departed from the highway and the schedule to look at a Bed and Breakfast which I've seen advertized for sale on the internet. Taking KY 101 north into the little town, I eventually found the Cave Springs Bed and Breakfast and drove into the driveway, but didn't stay - just looked. There is a cave on the property, hence the name.

From there we returned to Smith's Grove, following KY 101 north to its intersection with southbound US 31W which led into Bowling Green, home of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. My friend had never been there so we took a little tour around the campus, which it seems to me is in a perpetual state of construction. I can never remember being there that some major construction was not underway. After passing a new football stadium and the venerable Ed Diddle Arena basketball stadium, we found our way to US 68-KY 80, and made our way west along what I call Kentucky's Southern Corridor.

Southwest of Bowling Green, one finds the village of South Union and a Shaker Village along the side of the old highway. From there we followed into Russellville in Logan County, the site of a convention at which the delegates thereto voted to join the Confederate States of America during the War Between The States, which some might think is still being waged in some parts along Kentucky's Southern Corridor.

From Russellville west to Elkton along a new and widened Us 68 - KY 80, one passes off to the side the communities of Whippoorwill, Gordonsville, and Daysville. Eventually, the old highway darts off to the left, a straight line concete highway carrying you into the town square of Elkton, where the old Court House has been converted to a museum, and there doesn't seem to be a new court house. We stopped into the Elkton City Hall, also on the square, and were directed one block south, then one block east to a low lying building which looked to have been built in the 1950s, which is presently serving as a Court House. Elkton is at the intersection of KY 80 and KY 181.

West of Elkton, it doesn't take long for the fifth tallest monument in the United States, a 351 foot tall concrete obelisk, to come into view. Like Elkton, the Jefferson Davis Monument is on the old highway, appropriately called the Jefferson Davis Highway. It is located in the tiny village of Fairview, which rests at the Todd - Christian county line. The president of the Confederate States of America, like the president of the United States of America serving during the Civil War, was born in Kentucky; Davis born about seven months prior to Lincoln.

From Fairview, the next city on the trip is Hopkinsville, which is a lot bigger than many think. We drove through downtown and looked, but did not stop, at Farrell's Snappy Service, a culinary fixture since the 1940s, serving their specialty, Hamburgers, sort of like upscale White Castles, from a location right in downtown Hopkinsville.

We left Hopkinsville to the northwest along KY 91 which takes you into Princeton, which was the site of our first Fancy Farm-related event, a garden party at the home of State Representative Mike Cherry, on South Jefferson Street. The Party was a fundraiser for the local Democratic Party and included both local and state speakers. The food and drink was excellent, but minimal. Representative Cherry's house is an interstingly designed house with octogonal rooms and a nautical theme reflecting his service in the United States Navy.

South Jefferson Street in Princeton serves as KY 293, a significant number for me for reasons which will go unstated here, and so we took KY 293 southwest out of town, intersecting with I-24 West a short way later, which took us to US 62, which we used to cross over the Cumberland River a little below Barkley Dam (and Lake) and across the Kentucky Dam (and Lake) and the Tennessee River into the Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park at Gilbertsville, where later on Friday evening the Marshall County Bean Dinner was held with a packed house getting their fill of bean soup, cornbread, tomatoes, onions, and coffee or tea - for a price. The food was good and Judge Mike Miller, Marshall's County Judge Executive, gave a good speech revving up the Democrats in attendance.

To be continued.

1 comment:

MaDonna White said...

I enjoy your stories and history so much. I LOVE the car. David would be happy to help you get it running. We both love Mustangs. I also like your writing style and agree two TTs does look wrong. I was rather disappointed with the negative folks who spoke at Fancy Farm. I love that I got to see it for myself though. Did you know that Robert E. Lee was one of the most kind and loving family oriented people to ever be written about in history? He had 11 children and prayed and wrote a journal to his wife about the saddness of the war. He was a much nicer man than U. S. Grant. Just on the wrong side. Well I better be off to bed myself. Looking forward to reading more about Fancy Farm and your travels.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.