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Editorial: Boone has no bone to pick with renaming of Kentucky highway

August 29, 2003

After reading about the furor over the renaming of Daniel Boone Parkway in eastern Kentucky for longtime Republican congressman Hal Rogers, we decided to try to find out what the pioneer himself thought about the issue.

So we went to a local medium, who shall remain nameless, to see if she could hook us up with Ol' Dan'l for an interview. It took a while to get the pioneer's thoughts to flow down our channel and took even longer to get him interested in the parkway issue. All he really wanted to talk about was he once owned about half the state and was rooked out of it by a bunch of nitpicking scoundrels.

Appreciating our interest, however, in getting the straight scoop from the pioneer's mouth, he did agree to make a few comments on the issue at hand. You have to understand that being a rough-spoken and uneducated man, Boone spoke in a version of English not easily reproduced on this page, so what you read here is our paraphrasing of what he said. (In this case, the full text of his statement is not available on our Web site.)

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Basically what the noble pioneer said was that if he had been around today hauling people into Kentucky in a bus or minivan, rather than by horse and covered wagon, he would have gotten darned tired of pitching his hard-earned silver coins (we didn't interupt him to explain that there's no silver in the coins anymore) in the parkway toll booths. He said that if a consequence of getting rid of that costly inconvenience was taking his name off of the highway and replacing it with the name of some sitting politician, it was well worth it.

He went on to say that from what he had heard of Congressman Rogers, bringing home 13 million federal dollars (you could have bought the whole state, nay, the whole country for that sum back in the pioneer's day) was just one of the many good things he had done for his home state and he deserved some credit for it. He said that even in his day, Kentucky was neglected by the bigwigs (or did he say big Whigs?) in Washington and any Kentucky politician who could make sure the state got its fair share of the spoils being passed around in the nation's capital should be honored and appreciated.

As for taking his name off the road, Boone said there was plenty of stuff in the state named for him - things like Fort Boonesborough or Daniel Boone National Forest, which he could identify with. He said he wouldn't want any part of driving up and down any four-lane highway to get where he wanted to go. He'd rather be tramping around in the forest hunting and carving his name on trees.

Sensing that he was tiring of the interview (which is understandable considering his age), we asked Boone one last question. We wondered if he thought it was OK to name the highway after a politician who was still very much alive and in office. He said he thought it was good idea to honor people for their achievements while they're still alive to enjoy it.

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