Franklin County is a county that is said to have something for everyone. Situated in the amazingly beautiful Bluegrass Region of Kentucky, it is abundant in farm land, distilleries, museums and friendly faces. Slightly under 50,000 lucky citizens call Franklin County their home.
The county was established on May 10, 1795. It was created out of portions donated by Shelby, Woodford and Mercer counties. It is the namesake of Benjamin Franklin who was the signer of the Declaration of Independence as well as an early American patriot, diplomat and inventor.
Frankfort is the county seat and the state capital as well. It is a river city, nestled between Lexington and Louisville alongside the Kentucky River. Frankfort, as well as the entire county, is known for its horses, bourbon and wine.
Elkhorn Creek meanders through the county. The eighteen mile long water body runs through several counties where it meets the South Elkhorn just east of Frankfort. It is named for the elk horn shape of its twists and turns. The creek is abundant in catfish, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, carp, rock bass and carp, making it a fisherman’s paradise.
The history of the county roots back to the 1780’s when the Bryan Station pioneers who were making a salt fort were attacked by Indians. Stephen Frank, who was one of the settlers, was killed in the attack and the crossing was named “Frank’s Fort” in his honor. Eventually, it was changed to Frankfort.
Five commissioners were appointed in 1792 once Kentucky became a state. Their job was to locate a worthy state capital. Although a number of towns competed for the honor, Frankfort won out.
The Andrew Holmes log house was the capitol for the first seven years. Then, in 1796, a home was built by the Virginia lawyer, John Brown in Frankfort. John Brown moved in and represented Virginia in the Continental Congress there. He then introduced a bill that would grant statehood to Kentucky. When he accomplished that feat, he was elected as the Kentucky U.S. Senator. John Brown’s house is now known as Liberty Hall. The Old Governor’s Mansion still stands today and is the oldest United States executive residence that is still in use.
In 1910, fortifications were built on Fort Hill that overlooked downtown Frankfort. During the Civil War they were occupied by the Confederate Army for a time.
Madison County offers a plethora of historical sites to visit, boasting its rich history. The Liberty Hall historic site is one of the most popular. It offers culinary experiences along with a guided tour of John Brown’s Liberty Hall. The Hall is also rented for weddings and other special events.
Another place of interest is the Old Governor’s Mansion in Frankfort. From 1798 through 1914, a total of thirty-five governors and their families lived in the Federal style building. It is celebrated for being a building that has seen more historic events than almost any home or building in the Commonwealth.
Also locate in the capital city is the Kentucky Historical museum. From military history to political history to everyday relics of the past used by the pioneers and early day citizens, the museum is one of the best in the land as it is an affiliate of the Smithsonian. Tours are provided regularly.
The Salato Wildlife Center is an indoor and outdoor seasonal venue for natural history programs and exhibits. Fishing and hiking are available. Educational programs on hunting, boating and fishing are given there as well. A wide range of habitats are able to be seen like mountains, hilly prairies, running streams and marshes. Paved trails lead to bison, eagles and even bear sightings. There is an aquarium, many natural wildlife habitats and flower gardens to enjoy too.
Horses have played a big part of the county’s history. Visitors enjoy touring working horse farms in the Bluegrass Region. Around four hundred and fifty horse farms abide in the county, many of which provide tours and other attractions like gift shops, horseback riding and educational classes.
Whisky tours are another major tourism attraction. Some of the best places to visit distilleries in the county can be found around Frankfort like the Buffalo Trace Distillery, Castle & Key Distillery, Woodford Reserve Distillery, Wild Turkey Distillery, Glens Creek Distilling and Limestone Branch. The tours generally include seeing the sites and the option of taste testing as well.
For those who prefer wine, the Equus Run Vineyard is a tasteful place to tour. With the look and feel of a country club, the vineyards boast courtyards, a little amphitheater, an event barn and of course, wine. The vineyards can be toured as well as the other amenities, enjoyed. Murder mystery parties and other fun events are scheduled regularly at the venue.
Rebecca Ruth’s Candy Tours is a sweet treat for visitors to the area. The candy factory is home to the famous Bourbon Candy. Tours of the factory take place frequently and of course, the iconic chocolate bourbon can be purchased along with many other types of candy.
The county is comprised of 212 square miles. Two hundred and eight of it is land and 4.3 square miles is water. Bridgeport, Forks of Elkhorn, Jett, Frankfort, Switzer, Peaks Mill and Bald Knob are the communities within the county. Adjacent counties include Owen, Scott, Woodford, Shelby, Anderson and Henry counties.
Education is a focal point in the county. Kentucky State University resides within the boundaries and provides higher education is a culturally diverse atmosphere. The University has been a thriving part of the community for over one hundred and thirty years.
The Madison County community is a strong one that is proud to provide a diverse mix of history and steps towards a great future. It has a stable economy for its working class citizens with a wide range of employment opportunities.
Those who live in Madison County count themselves fortunate for it is a land rooted in rich history but one that embraces the opportunity of change as well. History, education, employment and beauty…indeed, Madison County has something for everyone.