Mansion Museum at Old Fort Harrod State Park houses artifacts

July 27, 2004|TIM WISEMAN

HARRODSBURG - The wife of Daniel Boone told Crystal Ashby to go to Old Fort Harrod State Park.

Crystal Ashby, a school teacher in Loudonville, Ohio, heard from one of her colleagues, Laurie Boone, that the state park in Harrodsburg was a place worth visiting. And so Ashby and her family came to learn more about the historic site.

"Most of our trips revolve around history," said Jack Ashby, Crystal Ashby's husband. "It's good to see the country you live in."

Park Superintendent Joan Huffman said there is more to the park than most people would think, especially within the park's Mansion Museum.


"There's a large variety of things people can do in the park," she said. "To me, the Mansion Museum is truly a hidden treasure."

Built in 1813 and expanded in 1836, the Greek Revival mansion houses artifacts dating from the earliest days of Kentucky's first settlement. The Weapons Room at the museum boasts one such artifact, a flintlock rifle that could have been used by James Harrod, the leader of the group that built the settlement in 1774. The rifle has been part of the museum's collection for years, but only recently did the park realize the gun was from that long ago, Huffman said.

Alongside the room's almost 50 rifles are about 100 handguns, including a gun disguised as an ink pen. That gun dates from 1910, but the handguns range from a late 1700s blunderbuss to guns from the early 1900s. Another wall in the room highlights the evolution of rifles to smaller, repeat-firing weapons.

On the first floor of the Mansion Museum are exhibits about the Civil War which were perfect for her family's Civil War buffs, Crystal Ashby said.

A room on the northern side of the house has an exhibit about the Union, including a life-sized portrait of Kentucky native Abraham Lincoln and other Lincoln-related artifacts. The room across the hall, on the building's southern side, has an exhibit about the Confederacy.

Crystal Ashby said she likes the educational aspect of trips like this and that she has heard other teachers praise her son's grasp of facts learned at places like Old Fort Harrod.

"It helps him in school," she said. "I don't think he's picking up that much, but I guess he is."

Huffman said the other highlights of Old Fort Harrod State Park include the recreated fort and its costumed interpreters, the oldest cemetery in the state and the Lincoln Marriage Temple which houses the log cabin where the parents of Abraham Lincoln were married.

Old Fort Harrod State Park is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from mid-March through October. Admission is $4.50 for an adult, $2.50 for a child. For more information, call (859) 734-3314.

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