Clark County, Kentucky is a place that has known its share of rises and falls. It is a community of perseverance and determination which has helped to give it the strong character it has today. The county is referred to as the land “where horse country meets hill country”.
The county is part of the Bluegrass Region. The rolling hills are breathtaking and the fertile soil is conducive to raising horses which is characteristic of the entire state.
Part of the Lexington-Fayette, KY Metropolitan Statistical Area, Clark County was established in 1792. It was originally part of the neighboring Bourbon and Fayette counties. Clark County is name for George Rogers Clark who was a Revolutionary War hero.
George Clark was an American militia officer who hailed from Virginia. He became the northwestern frontier’s highest ranking American officer during the course of much of the American Revolutionary war. Clark was the leader of the Kentucky militia. Kentucky, at that time, was actually part of the state of Virginia. He was known as the “Conqueror of the Old Northwest” because of his valiant acts of bravery that greatly influenced the ultimate victory in the war. Thus, the county deemed him more than worthy to name the area after.
Clark County’s roots began when pioneers traveled through Fort Boonesborough in nearby Madison County around the American Revolution days. They ended up establishing settlements in Clark County. There were nineteen such settlements which were called “stations” at that time.
More settlers joined the group during the course of time. The Old Stone Meeting House was erected in 1793 to serve as a place to gather for various reasons. In the 1790’s the Tracy Settlement was built and a church begat there.
The American Revolutionary War held its share of hardships the pioneers were forced to endure. The Indian raids were equally as dreadful. But when all the threat subsided, the county flourished with agricultural and commercial ventures. Distilleries and mills were opened and livestock was imported into the rich fertile land.
The Kentucky Railroad gave the county just the pump it needed to thrive. Winchester became profitable as a transportation hub. But, three years later, it was shut down.
Shorthorn cattle became the hope of the future. Unfortunately, the shorthorn were unable to compete with the huge number of cattle being hauled from the west via the railroads. The county suffered another great loss.
Hemp was the next venture. It did extremely well throughout World War ll as it was in big demand. A processing plant was built and the county came alive again. But the war ended and so did the glory days. Tobacco was anticipated to be the following cash crop but as Clark County’s luck would go, that never panned out.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the industrial age hit Winchester and surrounding areas. The transportation system, such as the Mountain Parkway, made it convenient to travel to and fro. Twenty-five percent of the county’s residents worked in or around Winchester while another 25 percent commuted to Fayette and other close-by out of the county areas.
Agriculture still plays an enormous role in Clark County today. The land in the county is rich and fertile. Farms make up ninety-five percent of the area. Tobacco is one of the most popular crops and livestock are abundant.
Over 35,000 residents call Clark County home today. Becknerville, Colby, Bloomingdale, Combs Ferry, Ford, Lyndale, Goffs Corner, Pilot View, Trapp and Winchester are the communities the county is comprised of. The county seat is Winchester. The county is adjacent to Montgomery County, Bourbon County, Powell County, Fayette County, Madison County and Estill County.
The remnants of the pioneer stations, or settlements, can be visited today. Many come from all over the country to get a glimpse into the past.
The Civil War Fort at Boonesboro is one of the finest sites of its kind in the area. The earthwork fortification is able to be explored. It was built by the Union Soldiers in an attempt to defend the ford and ferry. There is a gorgeous view of the Kentucky River from the historical sight and trails that can be walked which boast amazing panoramic views.
The Blackfish Byson Ranch is located on 242 acres of rolling hills, perfect for any adventurous soul. The relationship between the Native Americans and the buffalo is celebrated with lots of fun and interesting things to do. You can take a guided tour where you’ll see buffalo herds. You can even take a wagon and throw a tomahawk. Kids get a chance to try their hand at tossing a lasso. Buffalo meat samples are available for all.
The Bluegrass Heritage Museum is another tourist attraction. It is in Winchester and embraces the regional history with innovative exhibits and museum artifacts which takes a look at the area from the first European contact with Native Americans to its present day state. Charles Lewis Adams, the famous photographer from Clark County has a spot all his own in the museum as does a section for Black History of Clark County.
Beer Cheese is a monumental part of Clark County’s history. Annual Beer Cheese Festival is held each year to celebrate the original Kentucky cheese with a twist. It is a big attraction for tourists and locals alike.
Another fun thing to do in the county is to take the Ale-8-One Plant Tour. The plant is focuses on Kentucky’s special and unique ginger and citrus blended soft drink that is from the area. With the popular drink celebrating its ninetieth birthday, the festivities have stepped up a notch. The name “Ale-8-One” was the result of a Clark County naming contest. The beverage was first bottle in 1926 a favorite in the county and in Kentucky in general.
Simply driving around looking at all the charming historic features of downtown Winchester is worth a long drive to many who flock in to do exactly that. Churches, homes and historic buildings grace the town and picture-perfect scenery is available at each and every turn in Winchester and throughout the entire county.
While trials and tribulations have been a huge factor in the history of Clark County, so has the will to keep on keeping on. For those who strive to do the same, Clark County might just be the perfect place to be.