Enoch: Daniel Boone Heritage Trail

Published 8:00 am Saturday, September 2, 2023

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By Harry Enoch

Contributing Writer

Scenic byways are identified as highways with exceptional roadsides and viewsheds. In 2020 the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet designated Athens-Boonesboro Road (KY 418) between Ford Road and Grimes Mill Road as a Kentucky Scenic Byway.  From Grimes Mill Road to Athens has been a Scenic Byway since 1995.

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Traveling this route, one begins across the Kentucky River from Fort Boonesborough, established by Daniel Boone in 1775, and ends in Athens, near Boone’s Station, which Boone settled in 1779 — making this one of the most historic, as well as scenic, roads of Kentucky.  Due to its historical association, the byway was named Daniel Boone Heritage Trail.

The sites below—historical, scenic, recreational, and commercial—are encountered on a driving tour of the scenic byway.  The tour begins at the intersection of Ford Road (KY 1924) and Athens-Boonesboro Road, Mile 0.

Driving Tour

H, historical; S, scenic; R, recreational; C, commercial; * Kentucky Historical Highway Marker

Fort Boonesborough, H, R, *

Daniel Boone, acting on behalf of the Transylvania Company, led 30 woodsmen here in March 1775.  Col. Richard Henderson followed with a party of settlers.  The fort was erected on the west side of the river.  Now one of Kentucky’s most popular state parks.  Boonesborough Road (KY 388)

1.  Boonesborough Ferry, H, *

Kentucky’s first ferry, established by the Virginia Assembly in October 1779.  The license to operate the ferry was granted to Col. Richard Callaway.  The ferry endured until 1931, when Boonesborough Memorial Bridge was built across the river.  Mile 0.1

2.  Boone & Callaway Girls’ Kidnapping, H, *

The capture of Jemima Boone and Fanny and Betsy Callaway by a party of Shawnees and Cherokees in July 1776 was one of the most thrilling events on the western frontier.  Daniel Boone pursued with eight men, and against all odds, the rescue was a complete success.  Mile 0.1

3.  Three Trees Canoe-Kayak Rental and RV Park, R, C

Locally-owned watercraft rental business, seasonal.  (859) 749‑3227  Mile 0.2

4.  Kentucky River Palisades, S

The towering limestone cliffs, viewed across the river from Three Trees, mark the beginning of the Kentucky River palisades.   At the base of these palisades, one finds the oldest exposed rocks in Kentucky, formed in the Ordovician Period about 450 million years ago.  Mile 0.2

5.  Billy Bush Riverside Park, R

County-owned park, open daily.  Named for Capt. Billy Bush who established the Bush Settlement between the Kentucky River and Winchester in the late 18th century.  Mile 0.3

6.  Coffee Springs Falls, H, S

Wet-weather waterfalls emanating from the Coffee Springs, named for the pioneer settler, Ambrose Coffee.  Mile 0.5

7.  Boonesboro Quarry, H, S

This abandoned rock quarry was operated in the 1930s and 40s by J. A. Fries & Co. of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Caldwell Stone Co. of Danville.  Allen-Codell Co. of Clark County operated the quarry until it closed in the 1950s.  Mile 0.8

8.  Lisletown, H

After Emancipation, this black community was established by Fielding Lisle on the plateau above the Kentucky River.  Lisle, a former slave, served in the 114th U.S. Colored Infantry during the Civil War.  Mile 0.8

9. John Holder Trail, R, S, H

The 2.8‑mile hiking trail is on the publically-accessible portion of Lower Howard’s Creek Nature & Heritage Preserve.  Mile 1.1

10.  Salt Spring Trace, H, S, R, *

This pioneer trail, which led from Boonesborough to Lower Blue Licks, began as a buffalo road and Indian path.  It was discovered by early settlers in 1775, marked and used extensively to get to the Blue Licks, where pioneers hunted buffalo and made salt.  Mile 1.1

11.  Halls Restaurant, C

Hall’s on the River has been a landmark for more than half a century.  The first restaurant here was run by legendary riverman Johnny Allman in the 1940s.  Hall’s Restaurant opened in 1966.  Mile 1.1

12.  Blackfish Ford, H

The low-water crossing of the Kentucky River at the mouth of Lower Howard’s Creek was named Blackfish Ford after the famous Shawnee chief.  Blackfish and his 400 warriors crossed the river here before laying siege to Fort Boonesborough in September 1778.  Mile 1.1

13.  Col. John Holder, H, *

Kentucky militia officer, Col. John Holder, established a pioneer station in 1782.  He later added a boatyard, warehouse, ferry, gristmill, and tavern.  His enterprises led to the development of the Lower Howard’s Creek industrial center—one of the first in Kentucky.  Mile 1.1

14.  Brooklyn, H

This sunken wreck in the river near the Clark County shore was a sternwheeler towboat built in 1930.  The last owner was Linville Puckett, who used her for a marina and beer depot.  The boat sank in 1977.  Mile 1.2

15.  Stone Fences, H, S

Stone fences, such as the edge-laid fence here, line much of the road along this scenic byway.  The fences were first constructed by Irish immigrants in the mid-1800s and later by black freedmen.  Mile 1.6

16.  Lower Howard’s Creek Nature & Heritage Preserve, H, S, R

This 440-acre sanctuary features historical sites and more than 400 species of native, rare, and endangered plants along a scenic limestone gorge.  Mammalian species include river otter, beaver, deer, coyote, wildcat, black bear, gray bat, and evening bat.  Mile 1.7

17.  Hootentown, H

This post-Civil War black community was settled in the 1870s.  The community had Jouett Creek Colored School, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, and several cemeteries.  The community was named for its numerous Hooten family residents.  Mile 2.7

18.  Nursery Place & Jones Nursery, H, *

Fauntleroy Jones (1816−1897) was a nurseryman, horticulturist, and accomplished botanist.  He enlarged a 1790s dogtrot cabin into a 14-room home and established one of Kentucky’s first commercial nurseries.  Mile 3.8

19.  Boot Hill Farm, H, *

This was the home of composer, author, and ballad singer John Jacob Niles (1892−1980).  Niles composed “I Wonder as I Wander,” and “Go ‘Way from My Window.”  Mile 5.4

20.  Blue Grass Christian Camp, R

The nonprofit camp, established in 1949, is open year-round for day visits, summer camps, and retreats.  Mile 5.5

21.  Pettit-Morton Gristmill, H

This early stone gristmill was operated by Nathaniel Pettit, John Morton, and others.  It was later a restaurant, Gentry’s Old Mill.  This was also the site of a distillery and bonded warehouse.  Located at the Christian Camp.  Mile 5.5

22.  Athens, H, S

The Athens Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places for its Italianate, Greek Revival, and Late Victorian architecture.  The community of Cross Plains, founded in 1783, was renamed Athens in 1825.  Mile 7.3

Boone’s Station, H, R, *

Daniel Boone led his family and others to this place in late December 1779.  They spent the Hard Winter in half-faced camps while constructing a stockaded station.  Several years later, Boone left here after losing the land claim where the station was located.  240 Gentry Road