Bourbon County, Kentucky
If you’re a whiskey fan, you might like joining the ranks of the 20,000 or so residents of Bourbon County. Located in Kentucky, Bourbon County is part of the Lexington–Fayette Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is comprised of three cities, Paris, Millersburg and North Middletown with Paris serving as the county seat.
The area can’t be beat for its beauty. Country roads wind through the stunning Bluegrass Region. Age-old stone fences are a source of attraction as well as the horse farms.
The county is rich in history, with bourbon whisky being at the heart of the humble beginnings. Bourbon actually originated in the area in the late 1700’s. It boasted a lively flavor made from corn (maize) rather than the traditional rye base. Bourbon was thoughtfully named after the House of Bourbon in France, in honor of Louis XVI who helped the area during the Revolutionary War.
The booming bourbon distilleries suffered greatly during the Prohibition era. Twenty thriving distilleries were shut down for 95 years and the industry was all but wiped out. Today, bourbon production in the area has but Bourbon County back on the map though.
Initially the county encompassed a much larger section of Kentucky than it does today. The area, now thirty-four separate modern counties, was once part of a Louisiana French province. In 1763 it became Virginia territory but then was transferred in 1792 to form the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The original area expanse is referred to as “Old Bourbon”.
The county is 292 square miles, 1.9 square miles of it being water. Although there are no significant lakes, there are a few streams. The largest stream is the Licking River, a principal tributary of the South Fork of Stoner Creek where Paris is situated.
Bourbon County is comprised of lush, rolling hills. The area was once heavily forested but agricultural development has axed that. Still, tall deciduous trees can be found in abundance, giving way to spectacular autumn foliage.
If you’re not all that into bourbon (or, even if you are), you might enjoy the thoroughbred farms that grace Bourbon County. The county is dubbed the “Thoroughbred Capital of the World”. And…rightly so.
Home to a myriad of the best racing horses in the industry, it is overflowing with equine farms, many of which offer private or public tours. For those who prefer to just sight see, simply driving around the county admiring the farms is of interest to many.
Claiborne Farm is one of the most popular horse farms in the county. The notorious farm dates back to the Civil War where the Civil War veteran, Captain Richard Hancock, began the thoroughbred farm on is wife’s family farm. A number of outstanding horses hail from the farm such as Secretariat, Ambiorix, Blame and scores more.
Adena Springs Farm is another farm well-noted for tourism. Runnymede Farm, Siena Farm and Hillcroft Farm get their fair share of attention as well.
Horseback riding is all the rage in Bourbon County. Moss Landing, Clover Hill Farm and Scheffelridge Farm accommodate riders as do other private and public farms throughout the rolling hill county.
Horse farms aren’t all there is to see on a driving tour of the county though. The entire area is sprinkled with historic homes and breathtaking scenery. The Colville Covered Bridge can be driven through. It is one of only thirteen historical covered bridges remaining in the state of Kentucky.
The Cane Ridge Meeting House is a log building which was erected in 1791. Though it is now enclosed in a preserving stone superstructure, it is thought to be the largest one-room log building in the entire county. The log house played an important role in the founding of the Church of Christ.
Evan’s Orchard attracts many who want to experience a tourism farm firsthand. Visitors can take a look at the farm up close and personal and can even hand pick fruit. Hayrides are available too. There is a friendly barn yard petting zoo for the little ones to enjoy, creamy homemade fudge for all and many other amenities to take advantage of.
Modern attractions are also available within Bourbon County. The Houston Oaks Golf Course and Shady Brook Golf Course offer golfers a place to put. Walkers can enjoy the Bourbon County Park paved track or can let their children let loose on the playground. There is also a drive-in movie that features flicks in the summer months.
For those who enjoy the great outdoors, Bourbon County is jam packed with things to do. Fishing and kayaking are among the favored activities in the area. Paris Landing, Fryman’s Boat Dock, Central Kentucky Kayaking and Setter Ridge Kayaking are some of the most popular accommodations. Hiking and biking are commonly enjoyed outside activities as well.
The summers in the county are generally warm and humid in nature. From May to September is considered to be the hot months. The winter in Bourbon County can get quite cold and wet. The coldest time tends to be from the end of November until the end of February. It is generally party cloudy the entire year-round. The temperatures can vary from 26 degrees to 86 degrees. It rarely drops below ten degrees or rises above 92.
At last count, Bourbon County had about 5,500 families who call it home. The population density was 66 per square mile. It was 90.38% white. The median family income was $42,294 and the medium household income was $35,038 with 14% of the total population falling under the poverty level.
Bourbon County was always noted for being a reliable Democratic county during the majority of the 20th century. But, once the 21st century began, it has shifted to be Republic, hands-down.
The lush green rolling hills nestled in Bourbon County and the rich history and horse farms make the area attractive to visitors as well as to those who are fortunate enough to call it their home.
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