The Legacy of Sportsmanís Hill at Crab Orchard
About 2 miles from Crab Orchard was a mineral spring, well known to travelers on the Wilderness Road. Seen in the 19th century as being of medicinal benefit, a large health spa industry developed around these mineral springs. In 1827 Jack Davis built the first local spa, the Crab Orchard Springs Hotel. Southern, antebellum aristocracy who owned plantations in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi would come in the summer to Crab Orchard Springs to escape the heat, yellow fever and cholera of the deep south. Holding gala balls, dinners and
The local racing traditions continued in 1836 when Henry Farris built Spring Hill Race Course on the southeast edge of Crab Orchard south of the city cemetery. The spring and fall racing meets, the mineral waters and the addition of five resort hotels made Crab Orchard the center for racing being referred to as the “Saratoga of the South”. One of the most prestigious races was the Crab Orchard Derby which was run in the spring. Once race prize was a coin-silver wine set consisting of a tray, two goblets and pitcher filled with silver dollars.
Suspended during the Civil War, the Crab Orchard Derby began to fade as the deep southerners ceased to visit. In 1875 a very similar race was held the first time in Louisville and called the Kentucky Derby. In the 1890ís, with the development of “patent medicines” as a “Guaranteed” health cure, the popularity of mineral water spas declined. After several destructive hotel fires, creditors began foreclosing and by 1922 horse races ceased at Crab Orchard.
Colonel John Chinn, breeder, author of Kentucky Racing Regulations and owner of the 1883 Kentucky Derby winner, Leonatus, stated, “When the South lost the Civil War it wouldnít be farfetched to say that it lost the Derby
Location. 37° 28.108′ N, 84° 32.782′ W. Marker is in Crab Orchard, Kentucky, in Lincoln County. Marker can be reached from William Whitley Road. Marker is located on Sportsman's Hill across from William Whitley House. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Crab Orchard KY 40419, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Where Racing Turned Around (within shouting distance of this marker); A Little Bit to Eat at the Race (within shouting distance of this marker); Celebration (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Beginning of Horse Racing in Kentucky (about 500 feet away); A View from Sportsmanís Hill (about 600 feet away); Sportsman Hill (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sportsman's Hill / Whitley House - 1785 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sportsman's Hill (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Crab Orchard.
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Credits. This page was last revised on July 15, 2017. This page originally submitted on July 14, 2017, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 187 times since then and 55 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on July 14, 2017, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.