“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Joy in Livingston County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)

Protect / Transform / Inspire

The Nature Conservancy

Protect/Transform/Inspire Marker Kiosk image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Shane Oliver, May 7, 2021
1. Protect/Transform/Inspire Marker Kiosk
The story of Mantle Rock Nature Preserve begins with its rare and fragile sandstone glades, which inspired The Nature Conservancy to protect the area. Glades are characterized by low-fertility soils in which only certain species thrive. These glades feature a unique plant community, including the state's only known occurrence of June grass, as well as prickly pear cactus, rushfoil, hairy lipfern, little bluestem, pinweed, and poverty grass. Plant species grow slowly in glades; trees may be much older than they appear, due to the amount of time it takes a tree to reach maturity in a glade environment.

The centerpiece of the preserve is a 30-foot high, natural sandstone arch spanning 188 feet, the longest natural arch east of the Mississippi River. The arch was formed approximately 320 million years ago during the Pennsylvanian Period of the Paleozoic Era. Other unique geological features include bluffs, rock shelters, honeycomb formations, fluorite deposits, and a rock-lined stream.

The Reynolds Metal Company donated 190 acres to the Nature Conservancy in 1988 to establish the preserve. Mantle Rock
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grew to its current size with the acquisition of the adjacent 175-acre Calendar Tract in 1995, together with the donation of the two-acre Mandy Falls tract by the Felburn Foundation.

The Conservancy has also protected nearly 1,900 additional acres near Mantle Rock. This land, now the Livingston County Wildlife Management Area and State Natural Area, contains some of the best white oak forest in the state as well as rare and threatened species such as Price's potato bean (apios priceana). The Nature Conservancy frequently works with partners to acquire important lands such as these and then transfer ownership once the partner identifies a funding source. The Conservancy worked with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves, and the Livingston County Fiscal Court to protect this land. Funding for the ownership transfer was provided by the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund, an important source of conservation funding made possible primarily from the sale of Kentucky natural license plates, a small portion of the state's unmined minerals tax, and environmental fines.

People and nature can thrive together, but we need your help to conserve the lands and waters on which all live depends. Visit us at to learn more.

Mantle Rock Nature Preserve lies
Protect Marker Panel image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Shane Oliver, May 7, 2021
2. Protect Marker Panel
within a fire-adapted area. There is ecological evidence showing that Native Americans used fire to manage the surrounding landscape. The Nature Conservancy conducts prescribed burning within the open fields and surrounding forestland on the preserve. Historically, native prairies interspersed with open woodlands occurred all over the western part of Kentucky. Over time, however, Kentucky has lost most of its native prairies due to agriculture and a lack of disturbance such as fire, allowing the transition to closed canopy forests. This makes our work at Mantle Rock even more important.

Many species thrive with fire management, and fire is the most effective tool to maintain prairies dominated by grasses such as Indian grass, little bluestem, and big bluestem. The glade, prairie, and woodland communities found at Mantle Rock Nature Preserve all depend on fire. Many wildflowers also benefit from prescribed fire, and some invasive species can be controlled with this management practice. Prescribed fire is applied by highly trained personnel certified to federal standards for wildland firefighting.

Manual removal of invasive species is another management practice used at Mantle Rock. These species include Japanese stilt grass, honeysuckle, sericea lespedeza, autumn olive, and others. Pollinator habitat, which includes abundant wildflowers, has been planted
Transform Marker Panel image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Shane Oliver, May 7, 2021
3. Transform Marker Panel
in the fields near the parking lot area to attract bees, butterflies, moths, and other insects that move pollen between plants.

The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for people and nature. Our mission is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Our vision is a world where the diversity of life thrives, and people act to conserve nature for its own sake and its ability to fulfill our needs and enrich our lives. Learn more and become a member at

Preserve Rules
Please enjoy hiking, wildlife watching, photography, and other non-consumptive recreational activities at Mantle Rock Nature Preserve. The preserve is open from sunrise to sunset.

Erected 2020 by The Nature Conservancy.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EnvironmentNatural FeaturesPaleontologyParks & Recreational Areas. A significant historical year for this entry is 1995.
Location. 37° 21.419′ N, 88° 25.448′ W. Marker is in Joy, Kentucky, in Livingston County. Marker can be reached from Lola Road (Kentucky Route 133) 0.2 miles south of Mantle Rock
Inspire Marker Panel image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Shane Oliver, May 7, 2021
4. Inspire Marker Panel
Road, on the right when traveling south. The marker stands along the 2.75-mile loop trail at the Mantle Rock Nature Preserve. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Mantle Rock Rd, Smithland KY 42081, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Walk in Their Footsteps… (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Real Story of Mantle Rock (approx. 0.2 miles away); Exploring Mantle Rock (approx. 0.2 miles away); They Passed This Way (approx. 0.2 miles away); Mantle Rock (1/2 Mile) (approx. ¼ mile away); A Changed Landscape (approx. 0.3 miles away); Witness to History (approx. 0.3 miles away); A Winter Camp (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Joy.
More about this marker. The Mantle Rock Nature Preserve is owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy, and contains a 2.75-mile walking trail. A portion of the trail follows an old road trace used by the Cherokee during the winter of 1838-1839. The National Park Service helped restore this portion of the trail by erecting interpretive exhibits along the old road trace.
Former Interpretive Marker Kiosk image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Shane Oliver, May 7, 2021
5. Former Interpretive Marker Kiosk
The Nature Conservancy discarded the former marker kiosk in a clearing, a few feet away from this current marker kiosk.
Close-up view of the former marker kiosk image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Shane Oliver, May 7, 2021
6. Close-up view of the former marker kiosk
Credits. This page was last revised on June 8, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 4, 2021, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 118 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on June 4, 2021, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.

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Oct. 2, 2023