I haven't posted for two and a half weeks. Seems I left y'all down in the Kentucky Bend of the Mississippi River with a promise of stories about the return trip. My apologies. Interestingly, my readership hasn't suffered from the lack of posting - still the same seven faithful readers.
At this point I'm not going to give you a paragraph or two for each road and highway used to make the trip back home. Suffice it to say, at least while in Kentucky, they were mostly two lane state routes through stretches of largely unpopulated territory - what seemed to be some of western Kentucky's coal country - areas previously undiscovered in my trekking about the backroads of Kentucky.
From the Bend, I returned to Fulton County proper travelling to the county seat Hickman, and from there to Clinton, the county seat of Hickman County immediately north. Along the way, just west of the intersection of KY239 and KY123, I spied an old school building called Oakton or Oakdale or something. I wish I had taken the time to learn more about it while I was in the area but didn't. I've sent off an email to a Hickman County historian in the hopes of learning more.
I passed through Clinton to KY307, which runs in a nearly straight north-south line for almost 34 miles from Fulton to its intersection with US62 in northeastern Carlisle County, one of the longest straigh lines of pavement anywhere in the Commonwealth. I drove about 13 of those miles to that point, taking US62 eastward through a few miles of Ballard County and into western Kentucky's metropolis, Paducah, the seat of McCracken County. Here I visited the parents of a friend of mine, spending two hours gossiping about the County Judge and County Clerk's races, one of which includes the write-in candidacy of a Republican woman who is apparently running at te behest of the County Judge. The incumbent County Clerk, a Democrat, is otherwise running unopposed. From there I headed back to my motel room in beautiful Calvert City to prepare the next day's trip back toward the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606.
Early the next morning, before leaving Calvert City, I drove to the northern dead-end of KY95 in Marshall County where the road becomes a boatramp into the Tennessee River. The picture here is looking eastward (or upriver). It was an inspiring sight - that's Livingston County across the river to the left.
I crossed back over the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers following the new US62 eastward up through Caldwell County and into Hopkins County and its intersection with KY109 northward. I'll have to admit I've never really been much off the main roads in Hopkins County. Back in 1995 I spent a lot of timing driving State Representative Jim Wayne around in his Primary race for State Auditor. One of those trips was to some kind of BBQ event sponsored by State Representative Eddie Ballard of Hopkins County. I'm not sure I could find it today, but until this recent venture, that was my only detour from the regularly scheduled roadways. I left Madisonville, the county seat, eastward on the four-lane Anton Road - KY 70. At the fork in the road just before the community of Anton and a crossing of the CSX Railroad, I went to the left as is my wont and ended up on KY85. For seven long and lonely miles, KY 85 traverses acres and acres (and acres and acres) of corn and soybeans. There were no mailboxes and no electric lines along this elevated section of highway along the bottomlands of eastern Hopkins County. The road eventually crosses the Pond River and into McLean County, just north of the Muhlenberg line. After a few miles, KY85 comes to an end and thus I turned northward onto KY181 and into the village of Sacramento.
Sacramento is a town I've been meaning to visit for some time. For several years now I've been trying to get my friend Preston Bates to join me on a May trip here for the annual reenactment of the Battle of Sacramento, a Civil War event cited by the locals as the first war victory attributed to Nathan Bedford Forrest, a lieutenant general of the Confederate States Army and hero to many in the Old South. Forrest was a self-educated military genius who prior to his service to the Lost Cause was an alderman and slave owner and trader in Memphis, Tennessee. For many, this alone should discredit him. But, let me offer a speech he delivered to his troops upon the end of the war which saw his side capitulate and surrender to the overwhelming forces of United States Army General Ulysses Grant. If more of today's self-proclaimed adherants to the Old South would heed the words of their military hero, General Forrest, a multitude of racial problems might just go away. Here is a part of what he said to his troops at his headquarters in Gainesville, Alabama on May 9, 1865:
Civil war, such as you have just passed through naturally engenders feelings of animosity, hatred, and revenge. It is our duty to divest ourselves of all such feelings; and as far as it is in our power to do so, to cultivate friendly feelings towards those with whom we have so long contended, and heretofore so widely, but honestly, differed. Neighborhood feuds, personal animosities, and private differences should be blotted out; and, when you return home, a manly, straightforward course of conduct will secure the respect of your enemies. Whatever your responsibilities may be to Government, to society, or to individuals meet them like men. The attempt made to establish a separate and independent Confederation has failed; but the consciousness of having done your duty faithfully, and to the end, will, in some measure, repay for the hardships you have undergone. In bidding you farewell, rest assured that you carry with you my best wishes for your future welfare and happiness. Without, in any way, referring to the merits of the Cause in which we have been engaged, your courage and determination, as exhibited on many hard-fought fields, has elicited the respect and admiration of friend and foe. And I now cheerfully and gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to the officers and men of my command whose zeal, fidelity and unflinching bravery have been the great source of my past success in arms. I have never, on the field of battle, sent you where I was unwilling to go myself; nor would I now advise you to a course which I felt myself unwilling to pursue. You have been good soldiers, you can be good citizens. Obey the laws, preserve your honor, and the Government to which you have surrendered can afford to be, and will be, magnanimous.
This year's reenactment was held the weekend of May 21 (although the actual Battle was in late December). Preston and I had both just concluded our work in different Democratic primaries and neither of us was up to the trip. Perhaps next year. But, I digress.
I left Sacramento northward to the county seat at Calhoun where I picked up KY81. Coming down off the Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Green River into downtown Calhoun deposits you at a stop sign on Main Street just south of Second. The east side of Main north of Second is occupied by the McLean County Court House. Main Street runs on for about a mile north of town out to the Calhoun Cemetery where a fork in the road leads KY81 off to the right. As a side note, the fork to the left, KY815, leads to a town called West Louisville. I wonder if they cruise along Broadway in West Louisville on Derby Day? I wonder if they even celebrate Derby Day? Again, I digress.
A few miles north of Calhoun, I turned east onto KY140 which leads to one of my ancestral communities, Utica, in southern Daviess County. I've written about Utica before and my great-grandfather Robert Lewis' forefathers being from there. At KY140's intersection with US431, I turned northward through what appears to be another mining region in Browns Valley and into Owensboro, the Daviess County seat.
The Kentucky part of my trip home ends, at least for now, in Daviess County. I worked my way through downtown and eastward out of town along E. 4th Street, co-numbered as US60 and US231. There is a great deal of highway construction going on as the east side extension of the Wendell H. Ford By-Pass around the city is being reconstructed to connect to the recently rebuilt US60/231, which leads to the fairly new (opened in October 2002) and strikingly beautiful William Natcher Bridge, carrying US231 out of Kentucky and into southern Indiana. US231 is being completely reconstructed in Indiana as a four-lane divided highway - almost an interstate - all the way up to I-64 north of the town of Dale. Gone will be the days of travelling the narrow but terribly straight US231 which presently passes through the communities of Rockport, Chrisney, Gentryville (with its connection to all-things-Lincoln), and Dale on its route from Owensboro to I-64.
As with other journeys which eventually reach I-64 in this very Catholic area of Indiana, I tend to head straight on eastward into Louisville, about a 70 mile journey from this point. This trip was no exception. I'm sorry it has taken all these weeks to get you back home, but here we are.
Have a good weekend.