New bike route spans 10 Kentucky counties, traces Daniel Boone’s footsteps


Nearly 350 new road signs now dot the landscape throughout Central and Eastern Kentucky navigating cyclists through U.S. Bicycle Route 21. The new route, also called the Daniel Boone Bike Route, spans 265 miles through 10 counties of the commonwealth, much of it along the historic “Boone Trace” trail blazed by Daniel Boone in the 1770s. Beginning at the Cumberland Gap in Middlesboro and ending south of the Ohio River in Maysville, the scenic route will take cyclists through state parks and cities including Berea and Richmond. Low-volume country roads, diverse terrain, picturesque vistas and historic sites like Pine Mountain Resort Park, Levi Jackson Park, Fort Boonesborough State Park and Blue Licks Battlefield State Park are highlighted on Bicycle Route 21.

With the route completion, Kentucky is now ranked as one of the top five five states with the most miles on the U.S. Bicycle Route System. Kentucky also has U.S. Bicycle Route 76 stretching east to west for 484 miles and U.S. Bicycle Route 23 for 108 miles.

Developed locally over four years by Friends of Boone Trace, Inc., in partnership with Berea College’s Entrepreneurship for the Public Good Program, it will will eventually join a national route stretching from Atlanta to Cleveland. Digital maps are available for Rout 21 and others in Kentucky through Ride with GPS.

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New era in Kentucky wine is coming: 5 vineyards to visit, where to taste in Lexington


Bourbon may have gotten to the commonwealth first, but wine was quick to follow. First Vineyard Winery in Jessamine County dates back to 1799, giving Kentucky bragging rights when it comes to where America’s first commercial vineyard was planted. Over the ensuing centuries, the state’s wine industry has lagged behind that of California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, New York and even neighboring Virginia.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t making strides, according to Tyler Madison, creative marketing manager at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. “Our 2022 Guide lists 72 wineries in the commonwealth,” says Madison, adding that that figure includes two cideries (both in Lexington) and two meaderies (Crestwood and Knob Lick.)

Read more at:

Cooking with Parker – Beer Cheese – WCTV

By WCTV StaffPublished: Oct. 10, 2021 at 9:06 AM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Parker Coleman demonstrates her Beer Cheese recipe during Sunday’s Good Morning Show.


2 tablespoons of butter

16 ounces of cheese ( I used 8oz of sharp cheddar and 8 oz of Colby Jack cheese)

3/4 cup of milk

1/2 cup of beer (I used German!)

3 to 4 tablespoons of flour

4 tablespoons of spicy mustard

3 tablespoons of sour cream

Garlic powder

Salt pepper


1. In a sauce pan melt butter and sprinkle in flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Whisk well and cook for about a minute.

2. Pour in milk and beer slowly while whisking. The sauce should start to thicken.

3. Add in cheese in small batches. Keep whisking until cheese is incorporated. Stir in sour cream.

4. If it become to think add small amounts of milk or beer.

5. Serve with warm soft pretzels!!

Watch here:

Signs to be Installed in 10 Counties Marking New U.S. Bike Route 21

Contact: Naitore Djigbenou

Contact: Chuck Wolfe


Signs to be Installed in 10 Counties Marking New U.S. Bike Route 21  
Route follows much of historic Daniel Boone Trace and feeds into national route connecting Cleveland, Ohio to Atlanta, Ga.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 18, 2021) – The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is funding the placement of roadside signage on Kentucky’s new U.S. Bicycle Route 21 (USBR). The project begun in July and is expected to continue through the fall spanning through 10 counties and 15 communities. Ultimately USBR 21, a national bike route, will begin in Cleveland, Ohio and end in Atlanta, Ga.

USBR 21, also known as the Daniel Boone Bike Route, begins at the Cumberland Gap and extends 265 miles to the southside of the Ohio River in Maysville, Kentucky. Passing through the historic Cumberland Gap and foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, it crosses through 10 counties: Bell, Knox, Laurel, Rockcastle, Madison, Clark, Bourbon, Nicholas, Robertson and Mason. The route follows much of the original “Boone Trace”, the historic trail established by Daniel Boone in 1775 marking the first road to land west of the Appalachian Mountains.

KYTC provided the Madison County fiscal court with $85,000 to fund the signage project.

“Kentucky is now ranked as one of the top five states with the most miles on the U.S. Bicycle

Route System,” said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray. “By partnering with community members, the cabinet has earned designation for U.S. Bike Routes 21 and 23, creating new north-south connections with its neighboring states. When we grow the U.S. Bicycle Route System, we’re giving residents and tourists alike greater access to alternate modes of transportation. As a recreational cyclist, these new markings are truly signs of progress and there’s still the opportunity to do more to elevate our bike and pedestrian network.”

The U.S. Bicycle Route System develops partnerships between transportation agencies, bicycle and trail organizations and volunteers. The Adventure Cycling Association partnered with the Friends of Boone Trace, Inc. to design and implement USBR 21. “The historic Boone Trace began the ‘Westward movement’ of our country,” said John M. Fox, MD, President, Friends of Boone Trace, Inc., “This directional signage will guide bicycling tourists safely through scenic byways while passing many historical points of interest along the way. Bicycle routes

also attract visitors to explore Kentucky’s towns and engage in other outdoor adventures in the Appalachian region that contribute to the local economy.”

With the official designation of two new U.S. Bicycle Routes, Kentucky now has a total of 1,000 miles of connected bicycle-friendly roads. USBR 23 connects the Cave Region of Kentucky from USBR 76 to the Tennessee border. The 109-mile route travels through the small towns and historic sites of Southwestern Kentucky and connects to Mammoth Cave National Park.

Both new routes connect to U.S. Bicycle Route 76, “The TransAmerica Bike Route,” which was originally designated in 1982 and has been updated several times since, providing cyclists with multiple connected 500-mile or greater route options across the state of Kentucky from rural Crittenden County at the Ohio River to Elkhorn City in mountainous Pike County. All routes were designed to take advantage of low-traffic roads, allowing for a scenic and comfortable cross-state ride.

The U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS) is a developing national network of officially recognized, numbered and signed bicycle routes. All U.S. Bicycle Routes are certified by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). These new routes bring the total mileage of the USBRS to 14,000.

The trail route was developed over the course of four years by the 501c-3 organization Friends of Boone Trace, Inc., in partnership with Berea College’s Entrepreneurship for the Public Good Program. Students researched the route and evaluated it for both safety and unique features. The approved route is designed for bicycle touring showcasing low-volume country roads, diverse terrain, picturesque vistas and significant historic sites, including Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Pine Mountain Resort Park, Levi Jackson Park, Fort Boonesborough State Park and Blue Licks Battlefield State Park.

Free digital maps for all designated U.S. Bicycle Routes — including USBR 21, 23 and 76 in Kentucky — are available here through a partnership with Ride with GPS.

For additional information, contact: John Fox, M.D. President, Friends of Boone Trace, Inc. (859) 533-6433


Forgotten Southern Recipes

From pear salad and tomato pudding to vinegar pie and bacon crackers, we’re more than ready for these old-school classics to make a comeback

Kentucky Beer Cheese

Kentuckians debate beer cheese’s origins—most agree it was likely first served in the 1940s at Johnny Allman’s restaurant in Clark County—as well as the best cheese to use. This version uses sharp cheddar for its bite, spiced with garlic, cayenne pepper, and smoky paprika, and mixed with a local pilsner.

>Get the recipe

To read the entire article click here!

Stuck with leftover flat beer? Make this spicy, flavorful beer cheese spread

Beer cheese, which has a cult following in Kentucky, is the perfect spread for burgers and better grilled cheeses


There are a few truths inherent to long summer weekends, chief among them being that there will inevitably be a few leftover bottles or cans of beer — you know, the stuff that got a little too warm out at the park or by the pool and lost its effervescent sparkle. 

Earlier this month, I ended up with a couple de-fizzed bottles of pale, amber ale, but didn’t want to just toss them out, so I thought back to a few years ago when I attended The Kentucky Beer Cheese Festival. The one-day festival is held annually in Winchester, Ky., where visitors and residents celebrate beer cheese, which is, as the name suggests, a spread made of beer, sharp cheese and spices. 

BizLex Q&A: Fielding Rogers

by Tom Wilmes

In 1926, George Lee Wainscott, who owned a bottling plant in Winchester, held a contest at the Clark County Fair to name his new soft drink — a carbonated soda spiced with a proprietary blend of fresh ginger and citrus flavors. The winning entry, “A late one,” later adapted as Ale-8-One, reflected the latest thing on the market.

Ninety-five years since the launch of its flagship brand, Ale-8-One Bottling Co. is still innovating as the business furthers its heritage with new brands and business streams.

Fielding Rogers, Wainscott’s great-great nephew, is the fourth generation to lead the company, which is still privately held and family owned. “There’s a photo of me in the office when I was 5 days old,” he says. Rogers worked in the family business summers while in school and graduated from Washington and Lee University with a degree in business management. He became president of Ale-8-One Bottling Co. in 2009 at age 28.

Since then, he’s overseen the development of Ale-8’s first permanent product extension — the introduction Cherry Ale- 8-One in 2018 — along with seasonal flavors and sugar-free versions and has helped grow Ale-8’s distribution footprint beyond Kentucky and throughout the region. He’s also the keeper of Wainscott’s secret recipe. Every few weeks he climbs a spiral staircase in the Winchester plant to a private batching room, where he mixes the proprietary blend used to flavor every batch of Ale-8-One according to his great-great-uncle’s handwritten instructions.

Did you always know that you wanted to be involved in the family business?

I always knew that at some point I would be involved, because it is a family business and it’s truly in my blood. I spent a lot of my childhood here and watched my dad mix up the secret formula on a regular basis — and now that’s my responsibility. It’s also one of the most fun aspects of my job. You walk into a room, you’re the only person there, and you produce something tangible that, at the end of the day, you know a whole lot of people are going to enjoy.

How do you balance Ale-8’s legacy with innovation?

Legacy, to me, means what we’re leaving for future generations. I look at it as I’m a steward of the brand. I’m trying to build a brand that’s even more recognizable, foster a strong company culture and perpetuate a sustainable business model that that will work for the next 10, 20 or even 100 years. We’ll always be a family business. I just want us to be nimble enough to adapt to the new practices of the day and do what we need to do to keep the brand around for more generations.

“Legacy, to me, means what we’re leaving for future generations. I look at it as I’m a steward of the brand.”

A company our size is unusual in our category — we’re very vertically integrated for as small as we are. We’re effectively running three different businesses. One is our IP — formula, trademarks and branding — one is manufacturing, and one is distribution. We do some manufacturing and distribution for different brands that fit well with our retail partners. And we benefit most when we fill our manufacturing and distribution with our own stuff, so that’s a big reason why we are interested in new product development.

What’s the decision-making process when developing new brands?

First, we look at what will fit well with the market and what works well for our company and our systems. We talk with our retail partners and customers to find out what they’re excited about, and then we make a whole bunch of different things and see what we really love. We’re super selective about what we bring out. We put a lot of time and effort into making sure that that one thing is perfect and we’re 100 percent sure about it.

Have you had a lot of requests for Cherry Ale-8 over the years?

I used to drink cherry Ale-8 all the time as a kid — you basically make a Shirley Temple with Ale-8 and maraschino cherry juice. It was a natural fit as the first new flavor we’ve ever come out with. It was also quite a process. There are several hundred varieties of cherry flavoring you can use, for example. I think the one we chose is the one that’s most like I remember drinking a cherry Ale-8 as a kid. And if you haven’t tried Cherry Ale-8 Zero — I’m literally drinking one right now — we love it and it’s exceeded our expectations. In some places it’s outselling the regular cherry version. There’s no sugar, no calories and no aspartame. It took us a while to develop, and we spent a lot of time to get it just right, but that’s one that customers really seem to want.

What’s the strategy when it comes to expanding Ale-8’s distribution footprint?

We are very deliberate in entering into new markets. We want to make sure that there’s going to be strong customer demand. Because Ale-8 has been around for 95 years, we have more brand recognition than a startup. Our job is to find out how to make the right decisions to expand into a new geography where fans already exist, along with finding the right retail partners and distributors to better serve them. We also spend a lot of time on market research and marketing. We try and make sure that our products are going to do well and all our partners are going to be happy.

I feel like I haven’t seen as many Ale-8 commercials on television as I used to but more presence on social media. Is that deliberate?

You can spend an awful lot of money on advertising, but if it’s not done strategically and in the right way, you don’t see a lot of benefit. We’re very careful about making sure we’re getting a good bang for our buck, and we’re big on measuring the results. We have a passionate following on social media, and we’ve also developed a grassroots network of local fans who are product ambassadors and who do a lot of their own generated content, and that has been very effective.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I would call myself very thoughtful. I try to be very analytical and try not to be impulsive. My No. 1 focus is to always consider the long-term when making decisions. A lot of times it’s easier to make a decision that might work out well in the short term, but I think it’s always better to make the harder choice that’s better in the long run. In terms of my leadership style, I like to set goals and set a direction and then hire the right people, get out of their way and let them run with it. We’re very much a team-oriented, family business.

by Tom Wilmes

September 1, 2021

These 6 Cincinnati day trips are quite a rush


With tasty restaurants, charming neighborhoods, and serene city parks, Cincinnati’s packed with impressive attractions and activities. But just beyond the Queen City, a host of day trip adventures await. And, the city’s proximity to Kentucky and Indiana means you can cross multiple states and sights off your bucket list, all within two hours.

The following six Cincinnati day trips offer a bit of something for everyone—from sports and roller coasters to outdoor adventures and adult beverages. Here are the best day trips from Cincinnati for a quick getaway:

Red River Gorge Geological Area, Kentucky

Why go: Climb and hike through glacier-carved landscapes

Red River Gorge Geological Area, known locally as “The Red,” is an action-packed oasis in Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest—and one of the best day trips from Cincinnati, particularly for adventure seekers. The Red is legendary among rock climbers, with steep sandstone walls offering thousands of routes. Climbing guides like the local Bluegrass Climbing School lead rock climbing and rappelling trips.

But this Kentucky getaway adventure extends well beyond climbing. Red River Gorge boasts over 70 trail miles along canyons, gorges, and arches. Some of the most scenic routes include the three-mile Natural Bridge & Laurel Ridge Trail, as well as the four-mile jaunt to Gray’s Arch. Mind-blowing underground kayaking and boat tours also wind through The Red’s caverns.

While you’re in town, don’t miss Miguel’s Pizza, famous in the climbing world for kick-starting The Red’s climbing scene in the 1980s. In addition to lunch, dinner, and margaritas, Miguel’s offers a rock-climbing store, along with their own accommodations nearby.

How to get to Red River Gorge

Red River Gorge is two hours southeast of Cincinnati. Car is the easiest way to get from point A to B, with the drive mostly following Interstate 75 south to Interstate 64 east, before hitting several backstreets on the way into The Red. Build in time for a stop in Winchester, Kentucky, the birthplace of beer cheese—where you can sample this local delicacy across the town’s Beer Cheese Trail.

Read the entire article here!

Mt. Folly Farm owner Laura Freeman launches an inspiring “sequel”

August 27, 2021

Lucky Laura

The entrepreneur behind Laura’s Lean Beef has launched an inspiring second act


The story of Laura Freeman’s second act begins with a horse. On May 19, 2005, the eponymous founder of Laura’s Lean Beef was out for a ride on her 1500-acre estate, Mt. Folly Farm, when her horse spun her off. Freeman, then a competitive event rider who had recently returned from a meet, landed hard and suffered a traumatic brain injury. She was air-lifted to the University of Kentucky Hospital and later spent months at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital relearning how to swallow, walk, talk, type and perform other basic tasks. 

Freeman knew she couldn’t run an operation as large and complex as Laura’s Lean Beef anymore — in part because, aside from the rehab challenges, she was in near constant pain. 

“There was just no way,” she said in a recent interview at the farm. “When I would go into the office to try to sell the company, I’d shut the door and lay down on the floor, because the pain was so bad.”

But that closed door, as is the way of things, opened another. The solution to her pain turned out to be CBD oil extracted from hemp. “The first time I tried it, it didn’t work,” recalls Freeman, now 64. “But after I got the right type and the right dosage, boom! The full-body pain went away in a week. CBD helped my recovery tremendously. And I said, ‘Good lord, we want to grow this.’ ”

It was a eureka moment that — after a protracted recovery, during which Freeman sold Laura’s Lean Beef, moved to Martha’s Vineyard, and pondered retirement — finally set into motion another entrepreneurial chain of events that continues to this day. 

“There’s a big difference between cattle grazed locally and rotationally and cattle trucked to huge feed lots in Kansas, with thousands of animals per square mile.”

—Alice Melendez

Photo by Kevin Nance

Returning to Mt. Folly Farm, which has been in Freeman’s family for several generations, she and her daughter, Alice Melendez, planted their first hemp crop in 2014, just after it became legal in Kentucky. Now the farm’s umbrella corporation, Mt. Folly Enterprises, markets an increasingly popular line of USDA certified products, sold primarily through Freeman’s e-commerce website. 

Click here to read the entire article.

Ale-8-One Continues to Shatter Glass-Ceiling, Welcoming Former Wild Turkey R&D Professional, Daphne Phipps to the Team

NEWS PROVIDED BYHGPR Inc.August 10, 2021, 18:12 GMT

WINCHESTER, KENTUCKY, UNITED STATES, August 10, 2021 / — Ale-8-One Bottling Co. welcomes former Wild Turkey Distillery R&D Professional, Daphne Phipps, as Innovation Director. Daphne’s hire exemplifies a contemporary pattern for the iconic soda brand that just turned 95, with qualified women representing 50% of the leadership positions at the Company, including Ale-8-One President and COO, Ellen McGeeney. This newly created position will be responsible for leading the development of innovative market and customer-centric beverages, including Ale-8-One seasonal flavors, additional soft drink varieties, and brand-new products in the broader beverage category.

“Daphne brings with her a wealth of experience and a dynamic skill set that has earned the respect of her peers. As a native of the Brand’s birthplace in Winchester, KY, Daphne has an authentic understanding of the heritage and story that is crafted into every Ale-8-One product. Her institutional knowledge of the industry and region, coupled with her creative ability, is a powerful addition to an already exceptional team at Ale-8-One. As Innovation Director, Daphne will continue the successful momentum of our recent product launches and accelerate the introduction of new flavor profiles to the market, in the creative spirit of our founder G.L. Wainscott.”– Ellen McGeeney, President and COO, Ale-8-One Bottling Co.

About Ale-8-One
Ale-8-One Bottling Company was founded in 1902 by G.L. Wainscott in Winchester, Kentucky, and remains the oldest, privately held bottler in the United States still owned and operated by the founding family. Ale-8-One soft drink has been bottled in green glass in Winchester since 1926. The only soft drink invented in Kentucky still in existence, Ale-8’s proprietary blend is flavored with ginger and citrus and contains less carbonation and fewer calories than conventional sodas. The company’s founder and inventor, G.L. Wainscott, developed the recipe, and to this day, his great-great-nephew, Fielding Rogers, personally blends every batch of Ale-8-One. Ale-8-One is widely available in Kentucky, available nationwide online, available in Kroger stores throughout the Southeast, and can be found at most Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores and Fresh Market. For more information, visit and follow-on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

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Where in the world: Gone but not forgotten, 2 Elm Street

By Winchester Sun

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Published 5:58 pm Thursday, July 29, 2021

By Harry Enoch

Contributing Columnist

In 1976 the Kentucky Heritage Commission, in cooperation with the Clark County Historical Society, began a historic sites survey of Clark County.  The results were published in a report entitled, Survey of Historic Sites in Kentucky, Clark County.  Copies of the report, which locals refer to as the “Blue Book,” are available for viewing at the library and for sale at the Bluegrass Heritage Museum.

The Blue Book contains small cropped images of many of the recorded sites. The resolution of these printed images is low. However, film negatives of these photographs are very high quality. Images for all the Winchester buildings in the survey have been digitized at high resolution and are available for viewing at the Museum. Of particular interest for this series of articles are the photographs of historic buildings that no longer exist.

The following description of the house at 2 Elm Street appears in the Blue Book:

“This central-hall-plan, one-and-a-half-story house appears on the 1877 Sanborn Map and is one of the earliest remaining buildings in Poynterville, Winchester’s traditionally black neighborhood.”

In July 1867 Wiley T. Poynter (1838-1896) had a 65-acre tract of land laid out in 52 lots and platted as “Poynterville.” The new subdivision was bordered on the north by Walnut Street, on the east by First Street, on the south by an extension of Washington Street, and on the west by “the old Paris Road,” which today is called Elm Street.  Poynterville was the first of many suburbs created in Winchester’s history.

The house at 2 Elm Street was originally located in Brunerville.  One year after Poynterville was laid out, the heirs of John Bruner established an adjoining suburb that they called Brunerville (1868).  Brunerville lay on the west side of Elm Street and was framed by Walnut, Upper and Washington.  The Brunerville name persisted until sometime in the 20th century, after which time the area was presumed to be part of Poynterville.

In 1872 William Rowe, of color, purchased lot #21 in Brunerville for $34.  When he sold the lot three years later for $300, there was a house on it.  Although he lived here for many years, little has been learned about Rowe.  He never appeared in the census.  We can only document his presence in Winchester from 1866 through 1891 through his numerous land transactions.  Rowe purchased and sold 7 lots in Poynterville, 2 in Brunerville and 3 in Winchester.  Most of these were acquired as vacant lots and sold with houses on them, suggesting that he may have been a builder.  Sometime after 1878 Rowe declared bankruptcy, bringing his business ventures to a close.

Several of the deeds name his wife Martha.  Martha was widowed when she died of heart disease in 1920.  Doctor John H. Tyler attended in her last illness.  She was buried in Daniel Grove Cemetery.  

In 1875 Marcus Reynolds purchased the house at 2 Elm Street.  We know a little of his history.  He was born in Madison County in 1835.  During the Civil War (1865) Marcus enlisted in the Army at Lexington.  He served as a wagoner in Company B of the 119th U.S. Colored Infantry.  His unit saw action in various parts of Kentucky before the regiment was disbanded in April 1866.

In 1870 Marcus lived on Colby Bybee’s farm at Aaron’s Run in Montgomery County, and worked as a farm laborer.  A few years later he moved to Winchester.  He died February 14, 1888, and was buried in Daniel Grove Cemetery.  His grave is marked by a military headstone.

Marcus’ wife name was Ailsey or Elsie.  She received a widow’s pension for his service in the Civil War.  No further record can be found for her.  

The next owner of the house is uncertain because there was no deed of sale from Marcus or his wife.  Later owners of the property include Washington Ashley, Alfred Ashley (1890), Julia and William Cofer (1907), Elizabeth and Chester Skinner (1949), Sonny and Hazel Skinner (1997), Arthur Lee Weathers Jr. (2017) and Keith Weathers (2018).

The landmark house at 2 Elm Street was razed several years ago.  

Picture legends

Map shows the original boundaries of Poynterville and Brunerville.

2 Elm Street, 1977

The Fitchburg Furnace: Kentucky Bucket List

Taylor Six

“Everything has its limit — iron ore cannot be educated into gold.” — Mark Twain

This is the quote written underneath item number 87: Touch the Walls of the Fitchburg Furnace, featured in the “Kentucky Bucket List” by Michael Crisp. 

For my first task for my column, I stayed close to home by traveling to Irvine, just 30 miles down U.S. Highway 52 towards Daniel Boone National Forest. 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service’s website, the historic Fitchburg Furnace was constructed in 1868 by Fred Fitch and construction was completed in 1869 by Sam Worthley — just in time for the peak of the iron industry.

It was the last charcoal iron smelting furnace built in America. Standing 81-feet-tall, the furnace is considered the largest charcoal furnace in the world. Its intricate architectural design places it among the top 25 dry-stone masonry structures worldwide.

Ambitious entrepreneurs began construction in 1868 and celebrated the first blast in 1870. According to the website, Fitchburg was part of the larger Red River Iron Manufacturing Company, previously Red River Iron Works. Its owners utilized new technology, developing a hot blast furnace that used boilers to build up gas pressure for higher temperature. Fitchburg is the world’s largest dual-stack furnace. In 1870, with 250 men, Fitchburg produced 900 tons of pig iron. Its venture was cut short in 1875, costing out-of-state investors more than $1 million at that time.

The marker in the historical site, stated the structure helped establish the Fitchburg Furnace Community, which was once a part of a bustling settlement nearby the town, which included mills, shops and homes for more than 100 families. All of whom engaged in the smelting of iron ore. 

The marker shares this about the furnace’s demise, “Little by little, the fires in the old furnace flickered out, never to blaze again. Thus, writing the final entry in the journal of iron-making industry at Fitchburg. Fitchburg Furnace, once a scene of a bustling iron industry, now stands silent. Where long ago fire belched out of the stone chimneys, moss has now taken root. The shouts of the iron workers have given way to the cries of birds and insects. The old furnace had its day and then faded into the long years of oblivion, awakening as a modern-day attraction.”


Which brings me to my experience. 

I visited the furnace on Saturday, July 24, 2021. Myself, and my partner in all things Kentucky Bucket List experiences and life adventures, Isaac, joined me (Also, my car was on the fritz and I enlisted his help to do this column, so major kudos to him). 

He helped deliver not only a check mark for completion in the book, and for sure an adventure. 

More importantly, he helped me learn a valuable lesson about patience and perseverance. 

We left Richmond around lunchtime, right as the Kentucky summer heat and humidity was setting in. With the windows down and no AC, we set off to Estill County listening to 50s oldies. 

The first goal was stomach fuel, and I knew just the place: Burger Barn. Isaac had never been, despite traveling through Irvine constantly to go into Eastern Kentucky, and I knew it would be just the place.

We both had burgers with the works and seasoned fries. We cooled off with a crisp, refreshing Ale-8-One (number 32 on the list). 

Afterwards we set off to Fitchburg Road where the adventure and lesson both began. The furnace itself was a little more than 12 miles out from downtown Irvine, about 20 minutes.

We put the address listed on the forest service’s site into the GPS and were taken to what was not our intended destination, but someone’s home. 

Without service, limited gas, and both of us covered in sweat due to lack of AC, we decided to turn around to get bearings on directions, and to fill up on gas to either go home, or try again. 

At this point both of us were hot, irritated and I was being a “negative Nancy” about the situation to put it lightly. However, Isaac encouraged me to go back and go farther on the road to hopefully find the site. He helped me practice patience, and not give up so easily. 

Sure enough, we did arrive and the structure was larger and more captivating than the photos do it justice. We were the only people in the area and we read the interpretive signs, then ventured inside the furnace which was damp, dark, and sadly, tagged with some graffiti. 

However, it was amazing to admire the large stone bricks (which were larger than my wingspan), and imagine what once was a booming business in the hills of Irvine. 

We looked through every space, and pictured how strenuous, and unbearably hot it would be to shovel coal into a towering furnace for a wage of $2 per ton produced.  

Once we had seen all we could, we hopped back in the Jeep, and headed home to Richmond. It was a great experience I am glad we saw through to completion.

As of now, the plan is to head to Eastern Kentucky this weekend to Prestonsburg/Pikeville area. There are several items on the Kentucky Bucket List which are located in Floyd County which include seeing a Spring Warbler in Jenny Wiley State Park, as well as visiting the grave of Randall McCoy from the infamous Hatfield and McCoy feud.

Thank you dear reader for going with me through this journey throughout the state of Kentucky! I can’t wait to share my next adventure with you. 

Editor’s note: This column is an ongoing series inspired by the Kentucky Bucket List book written by Michael Crisp. You can purchase the book online at Amazon.