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Off the Beaten Path: Kentucky Byways

| Updated Oct 14, 2018

On your way South, many RVers may well be going through Kentucky. You can enjoy the Kentucky Horse Park and the Bourbon Trail if you like, stop in to see the original Kentucky Fried Chicken in Corbin and, if you're lucky, see the moonbow at Cumberland Falls. But if you want to get off the beaten path, you can see some things most people never do.

In Lexington, you can begin your day at Magee's bakery, where the bagels are big and delicious, and you can pick up a slice of transparent pie, a Kentucky specialty and delicious to boot.

Off the Beaten Path: Kentucky Byways 1
Cane Ridge Meetinghouse

Follow US 460 east out of town toward Georgetown. As you drive through, have a look at Ward Hall, an amazingly beautiful plantation era home now owned by a local historical society. Head on toward the little town of Paris and find the Cane Ridge Meetinghouse. This, the largest single room log structure in the USA, was built in 1791, just after the Cumberland Gap Trail was widened to allow the passage of wagons in 1790.

Just ten short years later, more than ten thousand people converged on the building for an event that would later be called the Second Great Awakening. Among the crowd were many freed slaves, indentured European immigrants, participants in the Whisky Rebellion, and veterans of the Revolutionary War.

The sentiments of this gathering ultimately led to the foundation of three new Christian denominations and the strengthening of the women's rights, abolition, and temperance movements. A stone building has now been erected around the meetinghouse to protect it from the elements. The grounds include a historic cemetery and places to walk, sit, and picnic.

Off the Beaten Path: Kentucky Byways 2
Gospel Kingdom houses

Swing south when you leave the meetinghouse and near Richmond, Kentucky you'll find the oldest operating business in the Commonwealth. The Valley View Ferry across the Kentucky River has been in continuous service since 1780, more than a decade before Kentucky became a state. There is no charge to ride the ferry, and it was operated by the same family for more than 200 years until it was purchased by the county government in 1991.

In 2000, the barge was replaced with a newer, longer model, allowing it to carry three cars instead of two. There are excellent vantage points from which to take a photo of your Roadtrek making the crossing.

A couple of hours west, just south of Louisville, you will find the Gospel Kingdom

Off the Beaten Path: Kentucky Byways 3
The ferry

campground. It is used several weeks out of the year for revival style meetings, but the rest of the year is sparsely populated. We were told the camping area (with hookups) is available to anyone when not in use for an event. The most interesting thing (of many on the site) are the tiny houses built by regular attenders for their use while at camp. They're actually just bedrooms with a roof and a door. Bathhouse, kitchen, and dining room are all communal. We had a very pleasant visit with several volunteers who were there doing maintenance when we visited.

Kentucky, old and new, is a labyrinth of places and events waiting to be discovered. Wander any backroad and you're likely to see something you can't resist stopping for. Maybe it's fresh brown eggs for $1.50 a dozen. Maybe it's four mules pulling a hay baler. When you stop, look around. You might well notice us, Patti and Tom Burkett, out there off the beaten path.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2018-10-14

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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