Friday, June 28, 2013

The Old Franfort Pike Midway Kentucky

As I said in my previous post we just returned from Michigan - our home state. On the way home we visited Excelsior Motors and Dave Hume. For Michaels 68th birthday he purchased a 1973 Citro├źn SM. It's in pretty good shape for a 40 year old car. He'll have fun working on it over the next few years. Dave says there are about 2200 SMs in the US and he has worked on 1000 of them. He's been doing it for 30 years. He was delightful and a wealth of information for Michael. We will certainly visit him again.

But the real subject of this post is the Old Frankfort Pike. We had no idea what a beautiful road his business is on!  I've been trying to research the history of it but there is little on the internet. I have emailed a couple people and have not heard back from anyone yet. So what I'm posting is what Dave told me during a brief conversation about it.


I took a couple pictures, but it is difficult to stop to take photos because it is a narrow road with no berm and a stone fence most of the way. So a few of these photos are mine, the rest I got off of the Lexington KY website.

This Pike is best known for the horse farms. Three Chimneys is probably the best known as the home for many years of Seattle Slew, the only undefeated Triple Crown winner in history. The current bumper crop of stallions includes Smarty Jones, 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, and Big Brown, 2008 Derby and Preakness winner.

Not being a horse race aficionado the horses were secondary, but the farms and stables were breathtaking!

You'll pass through six historic districts, and by four National Historic Register properties on this beautiful drive. 

The stone fence goes for miles. As we went south on I 75 we could see that limestone is readily available in the area. I'll be interested in finding out how old the fence is.

According to Dave there is a log cabin on the road that Lewis and Clark stayed in on their trek west. There is also a building that was the toll house. The Offut-Cole Tavern is located at the corner of Old Frankfort Pike and US-62 in Midway. According to the historic marker, the log portion of the structure dates to the 1780s-1790s. Major John Lee, a founder and early leader of Woodford County, lived here and began its tradition as a tavern. Leased to John Kennedy and William Dailey, it grew in fame as a stagecoach stop (midway) along the toll road from Lexington to Frankfort.

It's odd that for such a beautiful and historic road it is difficult to find too much information about it.

I'll add to this post as I find out more. It was a real treat to make this drive. Some folks are trying to get it designated as a National Scenic Byway. Others don't want the designation because it will bring more traffic.

This stretch of road is 16.9-miles long and has been voted one of the 10 best scenic drives in the United States.  Bordering the road for most of the drive are locusts, Osage orange, dogwood, redbud, red and white oak, and sugar maple. In the spring, the flowering redbud and dogwood make a spectacular display. There are also many canopies of trees along the route. Most of these are formed by either locust or Osage orange.

It was fascinating.

Next in series M-119 and the tunnel of trees in Michigan

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