The Eye of the Rich Land
Huge herds of bison graze in immense meadows beneath an open canopy of oak, ash, cherry, hickory, and sugar maple. Many of the trees are four feet or more in diameter. Elk and deer are abundant. Impenetrable canebreaks cover miles. Dense, closed forests blanket the steep creek and river valleys. Turkeys roost in flocks of hundreds. Brightly colored Carolina parakeets flit overhead. Flocks of passenger pigeons, over two billion birds strong, darken the skies as they pass. Bear, wolves, and panthers roam the deep forests. This was the Kentucky Bluegrass in 1750.
For thousands of years the prehistoric residents of Kentucky lived with the land, taking what they needed but no more. European hunters and settlers were much different. Early diaries and letters attest to the fact that the pioneers were impressed by the natural wealth of Kentucky. Colonel Richard Henderson was one day's journey from the site of his Transylvania Settlement, soon to be named Boonesborough, when he wrote "Camp'd that night in the eye of the rich land" in April 1775. Others called the Bluegrass a "second paradise," and a "promised land." But the natural riches were seen as the means to an end, not as a valuable resource. Native plants and animals were treated carelessly and sometimes with contempt.
Hunters killed many thousands of bison, elk, deer, and bear, sometimes taking only the hide. Later, settlers killed bison in huge numbers. Animals were also killed for sport. Bison were left where they fell. One man could, and often did, kill off an entire flock of roosting turkeys. Game was so abundant as to be seen as everlasting, but by 1800, bison were almost gone and elk were rare.
Settlers cleared the native cane and grasses, even though they provided excellent food for cattle, replacing them with sown timothy and bluegrass. European white clover replaced native clover. Maple trees were carelessly tapped for sap to make maple sugar and died in a few years. Trees were commercially clear-cut from the riverbanks and cliff sides.
In less than 75 years, one person's lifetime, the Bluegrass had changed forever.
Erected by The Winchester/Clark County Tourism Commission.
Location. 37° 53.398′ N, 84° 15.603′ W. Marker is near Winchester, Kentucky, in Clark County. Marker can be reached from Ford Road/4 Mile Road (Kentucky Route 1924) 1.2 miles south of Boonesboro Road (Kentucky Route 627), on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. The exhibit can be reached from the parking area on KY Route 1924.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Quest for Land (a few steps from this marker); Rock and Man (a few steps from this marker); A Long, Steep Road (a few steps from this marker); Roads in the Wilderness (within shouting distance of this marker); Common Cliffside Plants (within shouting distance of this marker); Defending the Kentucky River (within shouting distance of this marker); Three Confederate Raids (within shouting distance of this marker); Thomas B. Brooks, Army Engineer (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Winchester.
More about this marker. This marker is part of the historic site known as the "Civil War Fort at Boonesboro." CAUTION: The climb up the hill is VERY steep.
Also see . . . Civil War Fort at Boonesboro. (Submitted on June 25, 2014, by Karl Stelly of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 24, 2014, by Karl Stelly of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 361 times since then and 31 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on June 24, 2014, by Karl Stelly of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.