Danville, Kentucky is in Boyle County where it serves as the county seat. The town is notorious for hosting two of the United States Vice-Presidential debates. There is no debating that the town is one of the best in the nation. It was recently voted as the number four best place to retire by Money Magazine.
Often referred to as the “City of Firsts”, it was the location that the first constitution of Kentucky was written and signed at. It is home of the first Kentucky courthouse and had the first ever post office to the west of the Allegheny Mountains. Ephraim McDowell performed the first known laparotomy in 1809 in the town as well. And…it was also the first Kentucky capital.
The town was an interesting section of the Great Settlement Area surrounding Harrod’s Fort which is now known as Harrodsburg. That happened in 1774 when Danville was named Crow’s Station. But the town was platted and surveyed by Kentucky’s first district attorney, Walker Daniel in 1783 and came to be called Danville in his honor in 1787.
Ten conventions took place during the years between 1784 and 1792 in an outcry for better governance. Ultimately, they gained independence from Virginia as a result. The Danville club was formed in 1786. They met at Grayson’s Tavern every Saturday night where they discussed the social, economic and political issues of the times. Once independence was gained, their business was not as important and they scattered about the state.
Meriwether Lewis stopped off in Danville in 1806 during his travels of the Wilderness Road. He was a co-leader of the notorious Lewis and Clark Expedition. Clark himself made a visit to Danville in the same year. He visited his nephews who were going to school in the town.
When Boyle County formed in 1842, Danville was elected to be the county seat. The railroad planned to come through in 1850 and construction began but was never completed. The debt was still considered to be owed, however. It was finally paid off in 1884. Shortly after that, a huge fire swept over the city which destroyed sixty-four buildings. And yet…the town moved forward, despite adversities.
The Battle of Perryville during the American Civil War n 1862 left the need for medical facilities when a huge number of soldiers were injured. The courthouse and all other buildings that were available became makeshift hospitals. The Union then drove Confederates from the area surrounding the county fairgrounds through town.
As the pattern of the town always had been, there were ups with the downs. Archibald McNeill tried a crop of hemp out in the rich fertile soil in 1775. The rest was…history. From tobacco to hemp, the area thrived. For some years after that, the town had one of the largest cash crops in the nation in hemp. But, as luck would have it, the market dwindled in 1915.
Danville has the oldest college administration structure and campus laying west of the Allegheny Mountains, Centre College. Around 1,400 students are enrolled. In 1926, the college merged with the Danville Kentucky College for Women but females didn’t surface on campus until 1962. In 1921, the football team beat Harvard University’s team which was undefeated at that time. The score was 6-0. The New York Times labeled it as footballs upset of the century. The game became known as “C6HO” which is written on the post office till this day.
Transylvania University began in 1783 in Danville but in 1789 moved to Lexington. Danville In 1853, Theological Seminary was founded. In 1961, it became part of the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The Caldwell Female College was established in 1876 and in 1913 became the Kentucky College for Women and later merged with Centre College.
Other college are located in Danville as well. Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Eastern Kentucky University, Midway University and American National University all have campuses in town. The fact that so many higher education opportunities abound makes learning a top priority and focus for Danville.
You won’t be lacking for things to do if you live in Danville or pay a visit there. The Wilderness Trail Distillery offers tours of the Kentucky Bourbon plant where the finest of whiskeys are made. The area is well-known for its world-class bourbon and this is one of the best tours in town.
Kentucky Wine Tours is another big hit in the town. In addition to bourbon, the area is famous for wonderful wine. Tours, food and wine tasting are the highlights of the activity. Private tours are available for special occasions.
Horses are a large part of the community. Horse farms offer tours and horseback riding are popular activities. Some have long trails that meander through the gorgeous countryside.
Visitors, as well as local residents, enjoy taking a break to walk through the Great American Dollhouse Museum. Showcasing more than two hundred dollhouses, dolls, miniature buildings and room boxes, complete with furnishings, the set up much larger and interesting than most originally think it will be. The social revolving of America is depicted in mini-version, going back to Native American history through the Colonial days and the Old West through the modern eras of today. There is also a fantasy land exhibit that gets a lot of attention. Trolls, witches, elves, faeries and the likes can be seen in that section.
Danville is 15.9 square miles in size. There is 0.077 square miles of water, leaving 15.8 square miles of it as land.
Transportation has been made much easier with the DanTran bus service that runs inside of Danville. BGCAP connects the town with Lancaster, Junction City, Lexington and Stanford. Danville is also connected to such nearby towns as Harrodsburg, Stanford, Burgin and Versailles by highways. Stuart Power Field is the closest airport and is only three miles from downtown. The closest international airport is in Lexington.
“Quite simply the nicest town” is the motto of Danville. Visitors and locals alike agree…it is true.