Richmond, Kentucky: Rooted in History
By Kathy Witt
Ever since its founding in 1798 by a Revolutionary War colonel – and even before – Richmond, Kentucky, has been a town busy making history.
Following skirmishes with Native Americans in 1775, Daniel Boone and a party of explorers laid out what would become Kentucky’s second settlement at Fort Boonesborough. During the Civil War, Union and Confederate armies clashed mightily at the Battle of Richmond. Meanwhile, Cassius Clay (whose father had fought alongside Daniel Boone to defend the fort) campaigned for equal rights for African-Americans while serving as the U.S. minister to Russia.
And while these three landmark events certainly define Richmond’s history, the city and surrounding area offer much more for visiting couples and families.
History comes to life in Richmond, named for the Virginia birthplace of its founder and located in Madison County, just minutes from Lexington. A visit to many area attractions will instantly whisk you back in time.
Walk the same grounds Daniel Boone did as you explore the reconstructed Fort Boonesborough, a National Historic Landmark located on the banks of the Kentucky River, stepping into a world nearly two and half centuries ago through cabins, blockhouses and furnishings that narrate the life and times of this legendary explorer. Watch artisans re-create pioneer life through craft demonstrations of candle dipping, pottery turning, lye soap making and welding. Then return to the present with amenities for the 21st-century traveler, including a junior Olympic-size swimming pool with waterslide, miniature golf, gift shops, picnic shelters, paved nature trails, the Kentucky River Museum and more.
The first major Civil War battle fought in Kentucky was the Battle of Richmond, which took place on Aug. 29-30, 1862, giving a decisive victory to the Confederate army. Learn about the devastation of Federal troops in three separate engagements as you follow the path of the battle on a self-guided driving tour.
Beginning at the Visitor Center, the tour takes you behind the lines and onto the battlefields and skirmish areas as the Battle Between the States entered a border state. This tour is part of the Kentucky Civil War Heritage Trail and the Civil War Trust National Discovery Trail. A re-enactment of the Battle of Richmond also takes place each year in August.
The 44-room Georgian/Italianate mansion White Hall is famous for the man who lived within its walls: Cassius Marcellus Clay. Emancipationist, newspaper publisher, minister to Russia and friend to Abraham Lincoln, Clay lived in the home when it was known as Clermont – the home his father, General Green Clay, built in 1798-1799 and was expanded in the mid-1860s to create the home you can tour today. Guides in period dress share the history and treasures of the man and the mansion.
Sip, Eat, Stay & Play
With a downtown brimming with more than 100 buildings on the National Register of Historic Place and three National Registered Historic Districts, Richmond is indeed a treasure trove of history. But there are other lures as well.
You can explore the outdoors on horseback at Stepping Stone Ranch at Deer Run Stables, a 100-acre oasis featuring 7 miles or trails, two outdoor riding arenas and a 12,000-square-foot indoor arena. For a ranch of a different kind, head to River Hill Ranch to discover not horses, but alpacas! Resembling small llamas, these cute little creatures roam the farm in search of visitors who come to learn more about them in a pastoral setting.
You can take your tastebuds on an expedition by raising a pint of local craft beer at Dreaming Creek Brewery and noshing at one of the visiting food trucks that stop by. Also on the menu are occasional trivia nights, pop-up shops and other fun events. Once you’re ready to “wine down,” head over to scenic Chenault Vineyards to savor a tour and tasting amid a stunning backdrop of Kentucky’s rolling hills. This family-owned slice of paradise overlooks 500 acres of lush grapevines that produce a variety of dry and sweet wines, plus there are event venues for rent and a lineup of entertainment throughout the year.
You can also tee up at the 18-hole, par-72 championship Gibson Bay Golf Course, ranked 4 1/2 stars by Golf Digest, and visit Kentucky’s first Buc-ee’s, a popular chain of country stores and gas stations throughout the South.
More to See & Do
Come live the history – not to mention beauty, culture and downright fun – in Richmond, a town that welcomes visitors with Southern charm and hospitality. To plan your getaway, call 800-866-3705 or visit visitrichmondky.com.