Kentucky Tourism
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Western Kentucky

This section includes the Western Waterlands & the Bluegrass, Blues & BBQ tourism regions.

Western Region

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 undeveloped shoreline. 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
(270) 236-2423
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.


Mantle Rock

Cherokee Trail of Tears Commemorative Park
100 E. 9th St., Hopkinsville, KY (270) 886-7503
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.


Amish Community
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.


Moneta J. Sleet, Jr.

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.


Hotel Metropolitan
724 Oscar Cross Drive, Paducah, KY
Contact: Upper Town Heritage Foundation
(270) 443-7918
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 completely renovated.

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.

Hotel Metropolitan

National Quilt Museum
215 Jefferson Street, Paducah, KY
(270) 442-8856

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.