The seat of Mercer County, Harrodsburg, Kentucky is home to around 8,340 proud citizens. It was the first English settlement of permanence that laid west of the Allegheny Mountain range. For that reason, it has been coined the “Birthplace of the West”.
The heritage of Herrodsburg is remarkable. Founded in 1774 by a group of pioneers who were bravely led by James Harrod, a Pennsylvania native, it was the only colonial city that existed in the west at that time.
It was through Herrodsburg that the pioneers filtered to conquer the Western Frontier. Initially, it was the county seat of the Virginia town of Fincastle. Then it became part of Kentucky County. When Kentucky County was frothed, it fell into Lincoln County. But in 1785, Mercer County was formed and the town found a final county to reside and serve as the county seat for. The territory the town is part of became the state of Kentucky in 1792. The county remained as Mercer.
The town was officially established and incorporated in 1836. It was them deemed the oldest Anerican settlement of its kind and location. It was once called Harrod’s Town, named after James Harrod who settled there and forth the Native Americans time after time when attacked. The town was eventually abandoned due the Dunmore’s War between the pioneers and Native Americans. It was resettled, however, in 1775.
During the American Revolutionary War, Harrodsburg was also known as Oldtown. It was attacked once again by Native Americans. It was only one out of three Kentucky settlements that remained after the war. Logan’s Fort and Boonesborough were the other two.
Harrodsburg was on the side of the Confederates during the war. The Union had some control over them though. The Battle of Perryville left a sea of devastation over the city. It was converted into hospitals with 1600 wounded and sick Confederate soldiers who were captured during a raid by the Union under Lt. Col. John Boyle. For the remainder of the war, the city of Harrodsburg was under martial law.
Times became better when the Louisville Southern Railroad laid stakes in 1888. Construction had begun in 1884. The town flourished as the railroad brought in prosperity. A spur was built in 1888 making it even more profitable. The railroad is now the Norfolk Southern Railway.
History is celebrated in Harrodsburg. The Old Fort Harrod State Park (also called Pioneer Memorial Park) has been in operation since 1927. It is there that the town is honored for being the first permanent settlement that was west of the Appalachians. A monument was erected by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936, in commemoration of the area’s rich history.
The Bourbon Trail runs through Harrodsburg which is part of Central Kentucky Tours. Tours of the distilleries along the way are offered on the trip. Visitors get to taste a bit of the history for themselves.
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is one of the most beloved places to visit. It has three thousand acres of land to catch the history of the Kentucky Shakers in. From 1805 to 1910, it was the home of Shakers, the third largest community of the likes in the entire United States. Guests can explore the land from which the Shakers toiled so hard on and get a glimpse back in time when life was simple but difficult at the same time.
Horse farm tours are also available. The area is wild about horses. There is horseback riding, horse training, horse boarding, horse trails to take and just about everything else one could hope to find that has to do with horses. Some visitors to the area chose to simply drive around and check out the tons of horse farms that are sprinkled across the lovely rolling Bluegrass hills.
The Harrisburg and Mercer Barn Quilt Trails runs through the town too. Promoting the agricultural traditions of the area, there are countless displays of hand-painted quilt squares on buildings and barns in the location. There are quilts to behold and storytelling too. Festivals are held that embrace the art of quilt making as well.
Devine’s Farm and Corn Maze is a celebration of working farms. The one hundred acre farm produces the highest of quality in vegetables and fruits each season. The produce can be admired and purchased. Guests can also see how the produce is grown. There is a dairy education area, a petting spot, hayrides and an overflowing pumpkin patch in the fall. Playground areas are plentiful and zip line racers bring in even more fun.
Black Watch Alpacas is a fun farm where visitors can learn about alpacas and their fiber too. Guests can get close to, and can even pet, the critters. The tour is also a learning experience. There is a little store there as well.
Terrapin Farm is a place a family can go for fun and facts. An educational, hands-on farm, the diverse four hundred acre farm has poultry, pasture-raised hogs, produce and more. There are festivals that take place on the farm throughout the year. Tours are given by appointment only.
There are 5.3 square acres that comprise Harrodsburg. Every inch of it is land. Three routes run through the city, connecting it to the rest of the world. Danville, Perryville and Lawrenceburg are nearby.
The residents of Harrodsburg enjoy a nice economy, much due in part to the employers of the area. Hitachi Automotive Products has its home there. Corning Incorporated bases a plant in the town, the makers of Gorilla Glass. Trim Masters, the maker of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky seats is an employer who hires many of the residents too.
From a mere 182 population in 1800 to the city it is today, Harrodsburg has grown, oftentimes against the odds. It has reigned victorious over Native Indian attacks, the Civil War and many other adversities the citizens of old and new have faced. The residents of the town are strong and proud to call Harrodsburg their home.