Looking Back: Get on the trail

July 12, 2004

More than 140 years ago, as the clouds of war spread across the Bluegrass State, Kentuckians chose sides in the American Civil War. Nearly 175,000 Kentuckians fought in the War Between the States, and many Kentucky battles proved to be turning points in the nation's greatest conflict.

Now, six of Kentucky's Civil War sites are working together to organize a week-long heritage tourism event that will showcase the Commonwealth's Civil War history. To be held July 19-24, the "Central Kentucky Civil War Heritage Trail" will give these six sites an opportunity to display the importance of Kentucky's military past.

On successive days during the week of July 19-24, these sites will greet visitors with the best they have to offer: expertly guided tours, hands-on activities, concerts, living history programs and more. The Central Kentucky Civil War Heritage Trail will give visitors the opportunity to take a complete, week-long summer vacation, or a day-long family outing at one of Kentucky's Civil War sites.


"This event provides a wonderful opportunity to visit many of Kentucky's Civil War sites at one time," said Kay Berggren, executive director of the Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitors' Bureau. "All of these sites will have creative, interactive events planned, and visitors can choose to attend just one event or visit all six sites."

The Central Kentucky Civil War Heritage Trail will begin July 19 in Frankfort with a showcase of "The War in the Capitol City." After an opening ceremony with artillery salutes, Frankfort events will include living history, tours of Fort Hill and a John Hunt Morgan raid site, and an evening downtown concert performed by Saxton's Cornet Band.

The event will move to Camp Nelson in Jessamine County on July 20. Visitors can participate in hands-on archeology and battlefield tours, and witness artillery demonstrations by the 12th U.S. Colored Artillery.

The trail will move to Richmond on July 21. It's the site of one of the most complete Confederate victories of the entire war. Richmond events will include living history, visits to an 1860s wayside tavern, and guided tours.

July 22 events will be held at Camp Wildcat in Laurel County where, early in the war, Union troops held the Wilderness Road and prevented a Confederate invasion of the Bluegrass region. Camp Wildcat events will include speakers, living history, tours, and artillery demonstrations.

The trail will move to Mill Springs on July 23 in Pulaski County where visitors can choose to take a site's self-guided driving tour or a five hour "guided immersion tour" of "The Confederate Perspective." This Mill Springs immersion tour, which costs $35, includes a trip across Lake Cumberland, lunch and a visit to the site's historic mill (reservations necessary).

The Central Kentucky Civil War Heritage Trail will end July 24 at Perryville, the site of Kentucky's largest Civil War battle. Perryville visitors can enjoy guided battlefield tours and an interactive experience at Merchants' Row, the town's 19th century commercial district. Living history events at the battlefield will include a Civil War-era embalming presentation, cavalry and civilian experiences as they relate to the aftermath of the battle.

"This represents the first time that Kentucky's Civil War sites have worked together to promote a heritage tourism event," said Thomas Fugate, military sites coordinator for the Kentucky Heritage Council. "It has given these sites the opportunity to pool their resources and talents in order to show a national audience what transpired in Kentucky during the Civil War period," Fugate added.

For more information on the Central Kentucky Civil War Heritage Trail, see the event Web site at or call (888) 332-1862.

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