This section includes the Western Waterlands & the Bluegrass, Blues & BBQ tourism regions.
The theme for Kentucky's southwestern most region may be water - it's home to four rivers
(the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee and Mississippi) and two large man-made lakes - but it's also an area rich in
Native American history, and the bedrock of Bluegrass - the state's original music genre.
Water enthusiasts will find this area a paradise.
Kentucky Lake is one of the world's largest man-made lakes,
and the Land Between the Lakes, shared by Kentucky and Tennessee, has 170,000 acres, including 300 miles of
If water defines the region's geographical setting, Bluegrass, Blues and Barbecue define its cultural setting.
The small town of Rosine near Owensboro was the birthplace of Bill Monroe, "Father of Bluegrass Music," and
Blues legend W.C. Handy lived for a time in Henderson. To sample the third part of the trio, just stop into
any of the barbecue emporiums that dot the western part of the state.
The region has its share of Civil War history. Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy,
was born in Fairview, just 100 miles from the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, and the
town of Columbus played such a vital part in American history that at one time
there was discussion about moving the nation's capital here from Washington.
But, the region's most distinctive cultural imprint is that left by the
Native Americans. The Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site is an archeological
excavation of a vibrant Mississippian culture dating back to 1100 A.D.
A tragic chapter of Kentucky's Native American history is remembered
in Hopkinsville at the Trail of Tears Commemorative Park, the site
where two Cherokee chiefs perished and are buried. Mantle Rock,
a natural rock shelter, marks the spot where the Cherokee stopped,
and many perished, in the winter of 1838 – 1839 on their
forced march from North Carolina to Oklahoma.
And in Marion, the Mantle Rock Native Education & Cultural Center offers classes in
Native American arts and culture.
Warren Thomas Chapel Museum
603 Moulton Street, Hickman, KY
In 1866 seventeen former slaves founded a church which
they called Thomas Chapel Colored Methodist Church,
named for "Uncle Warren" and "Aunt Sally" Thomas,
two of its charter members, who provided the land for the
church building. A house of worship was erected in 1869,
but it later burned. The present building was completed in
1890 and its basement served as the first school for black
children in Hickman. One of Thomas Chapel's earliest
members was Rufus Atwood, a graduate of Fisk University,
who later became president of Kentucky State University.
In 1978 Thomas Chapel was added to the Federal
Register as a Kentucky Historical Site.
Cherokee Trail of Tears Commemorative Park
100 E. 9th St., Hopkinsville, KY
This historic park is one of the few documented sites of
actual trail and campsites used during the forced removal
of the Cherokee people to "Indian Territory" (Oklahoma)
on what became known as "The Trail Where They Cried"
or “The Trail of Tears”. It was used as an encampment
in 1838 and 1839. The park is the burial site for two
Cherokee Chiefs who died during the removal-Fly Smith
and Whitepath. Bronze statues of both, created by a
local artist, stand as silent sentinels. The park features a
log cabin, which dates to the Trail Of Tears, and serves
as a museum and visitors center.
Contact: Marion Tourism Commission
213 South Main St. Marion, KY
Crittenden County has a thriving Amish Community of over
600 residents. Many homes have shops from which are
sold handcrafted furniture, woven rugs, quilts, plants and
baked goods. Guided tours are available to experience
the culture and heritage of this wonderful community.
Mantle Rock Native Education & Cultural Center
110 South Main Street, Marion, KY
The Center came about as the dream of founder "Momfeather" Erickson, a Cherokee Elder raised in a
traditional family in eastern Kentucky. Visiting Mantle
Rock in 2001, she heard the spirits of the ancestors
directing her to bring the scattered People back to
this area as part of the long-awaited "Regathering."
The Mantle Rock Native Education and Culture Center
takes its name from a natural rock formation in western
Kentucky by the Ohio River where several thousand
Cherokee sought shelter while the river was frozen and
impassable in the winter of 1838-1839 (the Trail of Tears).
Through events, educational programs and a living history
village project, the Center works to interpret Kentucky's
Native American culture in this area.
International Bluegrass Music Museum
117 Daviess Street, Owensboro, KY
State of the art, interactive
museum dedicated to preserving
and encouraging the growth of Bluegrass music. See the
changing exhibits, hear the examples of the music from it's
roots to today's newest acts, and try creating your own
Bluegrass mix. Discover the richness of Bluegrass music
through an exciting and educational experience, including
exhibits that explore the relationship between the origins
of Bluegrass and the African-American music tradition.
724 Oscar Cross Drive, Paducah, KY
Contact: Upper Town Heritage Foundation
(270) 443-7918 www.hotelmetropolitan.org
The Hotel Metropolitan, the first hotel owned and
operated by and for African-Americans in Paducah, was
constructed in 1909. Operated as a boardinghouse by
Maggie Steed, the hotel hosted the participants of the
General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky as
well as well-known musicians and traveling performers
such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway,
Chick Webb's orchestra, B.B. King, Bobby "Blue" Bland
and Ike and Tina Turner. The hotel has recently been
Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center
100 Kentucky Avenue, Paducah, KY
Opened in 2004 as a regional performing arts center,
this facility is a gathering place where people of the
region celebrate creativity and diversity as they attend
performances, participate in educational and outreach
activities and expand their horizons through the arts.
National Quilt Museum
215 Jefferson Street, Paducah, KY
(270) 442-8856 www.quiltmuseum.org
Quilting has long been of interest to people studying
the history of African-American traditions. From the days of
the enslaved, quilting has been an artform that has survived.
The National Quilt Museum works to advance the art of today's quilters by bringing it to new and expanding audiences worldwide.
Big Spring Park on the Trail of Tears
206 East Market Street, Princeton, KY
This site includes an historic marker identifying this as a
point on the "Varmintrace” Road from Princeton toward
the Cumberland River where in 1838, the Cherokee
camped on the 1200-mile "Trail of Tears."
Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site
94 Green Street, Wickliffe, KY
Wickliffe Mounds is a Native American archaeological site.
It was here that a mound-building Mississippian culture
constructed a village that was inhabited from around
1100 A.D. until sometime around 1350 A.D. The
Mississippians built a settlement with permanent houses
and earthen mounds situated around a central plaza. They
farmed the river bottoms and participated in a vast trade
network. Exhibits, murals and a nature walk help interpret
the history of this Native American culture to visitors.