Maysville Kentucky Blog

The Maysville Kentucky Blog is your guide to the beautiful and historic small town of Maysville Kentucky, snuggled into the rolling hills along the Ohio River. Though this blog has been discontinued, you can get your Maysville Kentucky fix over at Ken Downing's Mason County Kentucky Blog @

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Best of the Blog: Top 25 Posts of 2006

There were 366 posts to the Maysville Kentucky Blog in 2006 (one day I posted twice). For the best of 2006, I forced myself to narrow it down to the Top 25 I had the most attachment to. These may not necessarily be the best, but they're the ones that stuck out to me the most (in no particular order). Great reading in case you are nursing a hangover on New Year's Day!

Video File: Maysville Joyride! - With a video camera strapped to the top of a remote control car, we explore Maysville Kentucky's downtown streets - and get a few stares.

Exploring Maysville's Bermuda Triangle - The story of a corner of the Ohio River that sucks boats in and never lets them go.

Video File: Homefront Cafe - Video I made for my parent's coffee house and Civil War museum on Second Street.

Spooky Footage of Hayswood Hospital - Is the Hayswood Hospital in downtown Maysville haunted? Judge for yourself.

Ancient Civilization Beneath Kentucky - Ancient mysteries and lost civilizations buried in the soil near Maysville.

Maysville 50 Years Ago: One Man's Recollections - Contributing blogger, Ken Downing, shares his memories of Maysville Kentucky during the 1950s. 

Hendrickson's Magic Window - Just one of those weird things in Maysville that are often overlooked.

Getting Lost in Maysville - Confusing road layouts lead to humorous signs.

Mystery Table at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Museum - An antique table at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Museum in Old Washington may be a lot more.

How Maysville Kentucky Gave Birth To Cincinnati - Find out how horse thieves from the Maysville area gave birth to one of the largest cities in the Midwest. 

Weird Things In The Ohio River - An octopus, crocodiles, and pirannahs are some of the weird things pulled from the Ohio River over the years. 

Amazing Video: My Old Kentucky Home - Passengers returning from a trip to Europe suddenly break out in a deeply nostalgic rendition of Kentucky's theme song. 

Kentucky Ain't Just For Rednecks No Mo' - How Kentucky is making great strides to distance themselves from the redneck stereotype. 

The Strange Tale Of The Steamer Magnolia - The spectacular explosion of a steamer near Maysville Kentucky and the no less amazing backstory of the boat. 

Maysville Bridge Photos, Interesting Viewpoint - One of the engineers working on the maintenance of Maysville bridges brings a camera along, providing rare top-down photographs of the area. 

The Asparagus Bed of Mason County - How May's Lick became known as the "Asparagus Bed", despite the fact that little asparagus is actually grown there.

Pardon My French - Kentucky's obsession with naming towns with French words dates back to the visit of Marquis de Lafayette to Maysville in the 1800s. We've been butchering the pronunciations ever since.

How Bourbon Got It's Name - How Maysville Kentucky as a port on the Ohio River led to the naming of one of the world's most popular whiskeys. 

The Strange Death of Capt. Thomas Mantell - Airforce pilot Capt. Thomas Mantell chases a UFO over Maysville before perishing in a mysterious crash. 

Finding A Community Identity - Some personal opinions of how Maysville Kentucky can improve its community identity. 

Exploring the Maysville Academy Site - While taking my dog for a walk downtown, we stopped in to explore the ruins of the old Maysville Academy, where back in the day President Grant attended as a boy. 

New Orleans Influence in Maysville Architecture - After the Katrina Disaster, I wrote about the influence of New Orleans on local architecture, telling the story of how one man's gambling in New Orleans led to a Maysville icon. 

The Cox Building, Never a Masonic Temple? - The speculative history behind one of Maysville Kentucky's most ornate buildings. 

Maysville & The God**** Hippies - Four part series examining Maysville's role in the American counter-culture explosion of the 1960s.

Maysville Kentucky: Six Degrees From Billy the Kid - A guy from Maysville was at the death of Billy the Kid. Find out how he came to be there.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006 Maysville Kentucky Webby Awards

Maysville Kentucky as a small town often overlooks its presence on the web as important, despite the fact that the web is the first impression of Maysville most people outside of our area sees. That's why last year we introduced the Maysville Kentucky Webby Awards, a knockoff of the official Webby Awards honoring excellence on the Internet. This year we are continuing with this tradition of recognizing outstanding local websites, and have added a few more categories.

The criteria for being considered for a Maysville Kentucky Webby Award is that the website must either be owned and operated locally or directly service the Maysville/Mason County local area. Websites that are part of a national organization but aren't represented by an independent local website aren't included in the competition (for example BellSouth). The website also cannot be owned by the judges or their family (so I left off, among other things, my personal website and this blog). The criteria used in judging first looks at content, then importance, and finally design. It's also based largely on how the business or organization uses the website. This isn't meant to be an exhaustive list of all the local area websites, just the ones that stood out in 2006.

Now that the rules are laid out, let's check out the 2006 Maysville Webby Award winners!

Best Online Store
Magee's Bakery
New to the web this year is Magee's Bakery. Magee's Bakery is without doubt the best local online store. This isn't just for their wide assortment of baked goods that you can order at the site - including their famous transparent tarts (a favorite of George Clooney) - but also for the tons of other information they provide. Have you ever heard of a "Bakery Farm TV"? These are YouTube videos filmed at the Magee's Bakery. Now that's using a website! Magee's is definitely the most interesting online store of the local area.

Best Blog
Bob's Blah Blog
Some of the best blogs in the world don't pull any punches when dishing out opinion and neither does local man Robert Roe in his Bob's Blah Blog. I personally agree with very little of what he has to say, but for the way he says it, he gets the 2006 Maysville Webby Award for best blog. Although Roe has been a political commentator for some time, his blog arrived on the scene just this year. Welcome to the blogosphere!

Best Tourism Website
City of Maysville
Although several new tourism-based websites arrived on the scene this year (including the Washington Kentucky website among others), the City of Maysville website has remained the most up-to-date resource on tourism related information throughout 2006. When looking for information on local tourism attractions and events, it's often the first place you should look.

Best Local News
Ledger Independent
You might think this one is a gimme, but there are actually several local news sources available in Maysville Kentucky, including radio along with online sources. The Ledger Independent website has consistently stood above the others, providing an almost mirror of their daily newspaper. It probably helps that the Ledger Independent's parent company is majority-owner of, a leading provider of content management systems for online newspapers. Recent improvements to their website have included video news from the Associated Press.

Best Political Commentary
Maysville KY BBS
During the November elections, Maysville KY BBS provided an outlet for the local community to meet candidates running for a wide variety of positions. Candidates were able to respond directly to concerns of private individuals and users in turn were able to meet the candidates, something that may have been difficult in a traditional forum. Although other media outlets provided some election coverage, Maysville KY BBS was the most interactive.

Best Local Area Attraction Website
Big Rock Off Road Park
Big Rock Off Road Park is one of area's more interesting attractions, offering nearly 2,000 acres of ATV and dirtbike trails. They also have the best website for local attractions. Paradize Breeze's website was a close second, but part of the criteria for the Webby Awards is how a group uses their website. The folks at Big Rock consistently provide updates including such timely information as weather and trail conditions.

Best Church Website
First Presbyterian Church
For a city filled with so many churches, there are surprisingly few that maintain a web presence. Of the ones that do, Maysville's First Presbyterian Church really stands out. It's designed to match the metaphor of a Bible, but also provides a wealth of information about the church. The only thing they are missing (hint, hint) is a page about the history of the church building, since it is one of Maysville's oldest.

Best Agricultural Website
Herb Farm @ Strodes Run
Maysville Kentucky is largely an agricultural town but no agritourism based group utilizes the web like the Herb Farm @ Strodes Run. Always up-to-date with new information, the website provides a sneak peak into their 4,000 square foot herb barn and 220 acres of organic farm land. For their excellence this past year, they were also voted Best of Maysville, Kentucky, by (link). That's pretty cool, and at least as far as the best in agricultural websites go, we agree.

Best Sports Website
Courtside With Danny Weddle
There are several sources for local sports online but Weddle's blog stands out because of the sheer dedication he has in posting local area game scores and schedules. No other source is all about local sports, all the time, either. For this specialization and dedication, the 2006 Maysville Webby Award for sports goes to the Courtside With Danny Weddle blog. As another new blog that arrived this year, welcome to the blogosphere!

Best Art Website
Ohio River Valley Artists Guild
If you are looking for local artists, look no further. The Ohio River Valley Artists Guild is a collaboration of local artists and in the past year they have been showcasing a number of pieces at their website. Rather than singling out a particular artist for this category, this year the Webby Award for best art website goes to the entire group.

Friday, December 29, 2006

New Year, New Sunday Alchohol Sales

The last time New Year's Eve fell on a Sunday was in 2000, and many locals thought it lame that they couldn't celebrate the coming year traditionally (you know, getting sloshed and regretting it) because Maysville Kentucky didn't allow alchohol sales on Sunday. This past year, however, Maysville officials passed an ordinance changing all of that. This year will be like any other weekday New Year's - you can get sloshed and regret it in public!

Many local pubs, taverns, and watering holes plan to take advantage of the new law and throw a party, including O'Rourke's Pub on Market Street. The ordinance permits alcohol sales until 1 am, so that gives you just enough time to watch the ball drop and then clear out. Party on! Just remember to be safe and plan transportation ahead of time. Geno's Taxi's phone number is (606) 564-8911.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Fifty Years of Slavery

Francis Fredric was born a slave in Virginia and was moved by his master to Mason County, Kentucky, when he was fourteen years old. The master's wife befriended Fredric, which enabled him to work within the house as opposed to the fields, among other "perks". Apparently attending a prayer-meeting wasn't one of these perks because for that Fredric was flogged. At one point he received 107 lashes from a whip. Fredric was fortunate enough to have later escaped through the Underground Railroad to Canada, and eventually make his way to Liverpool, England, where he wrote the book Fifty Years of Slavery in 1863. Here's an excerpt:
From Welland we took boats to Maysville, Kentucky. My master had bought a farm in Mason County, about twenty miles from Maysville. When we arrived there we found a great deal of uncultivated land belonging to the farm. The first thing the negroes did was to clear the land of bush, and then to sow blue grass seed for the cattle to feed upon. They then fenced in the woods for what is called woodland pasture. The neighbouring planters came and showed my master how to manage his new estate. They told the slaves how to tap the sugar-tree to let the liquid out, and to boil it down so as to get the sugar from it. The slaves built a great many log-huts; for my master, at the next slave-market, intended to purchase more slaves.

I was taken into the house to learn to wait at table - a fortunate chance for me, since I had a better opportunity of getting food. I shall never forget my first day in the kitchen. I was delighted to see some bread in the pantry. I took piece after piece to skim the fat from the top of the boiling-pot, overjoyed that I could have sufficient.

The full text of Fifty Years of Slavery is online here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

1865 Painting of Maysville Kentucky By William Craig

The artist William Craig was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1829. Most of his paintings were in water colors, although the one above is in oil. His paintings were most popular in Ireland. In 1863 he settled in the United States, becoming one of the original members of the American Society of Watercolor Painters. His paintings have been called "admirable specimens of the art, tender yet brilliant in tone, and possessed of that peculiar transparency of coloring which is so noticeable in the works of the English school." In 1865, Craig traveled to Kentucky and Ohio where he painted this piece.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Kenton's Station

A childhood resident of Kenton's Station, the fort that Simon Kenton built when he arrived here in the 1700s, once wrote describing the location:
During 1785 a large addition of settlers was made at Kenton's Station, and some 16 or 18 cabins erected, and fully 20 families altogether. The cabins were erected in a hollow square, adjoining each other-except two cabins, between which was a space of some 30 feet which was picketed. No gate - entered the cabin doors, and these of nights barred with a stout hand spike - doors of slabs nearly 3 inches thick: One story cabins: Corners were block-houses, higher than the other cabins, and jutting over a foot for defense. The enclose within the station was about 8 rods by 4 - longest way of the station along the creek. Some 4 or 5 rods below the station and on the hill side a very large fine spring burst out from which a supply of water was obtained - this spring had rivulets running a few rods into the creek.

None of the original cabins remain today. However, the territory itself and Kenton's Spring can still be seen. It's located off the AA Highway, a short distance behind the K-Mart shopping center. A marker by the side of the road points to the entrance. The marker reads:

Simon Kenton's Station: About 1/2 mile west is site of camp made by Simon Kenton and Thomas Williams in the spring of 1775. They left this camp in the fall and visited stations in area. Kenton returned to camp in 1784, and brought with him a group of his family and friends. During 1784 and 1785, they fortified the station, which became a major stronghold north of Kentucky River.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Pulse: Merry Christmas!

This week's Pulse comes from Dadvocate and his blog post is about the Christmas and Holiday scenes from Maysville Kentucky.

Window at the Bank of Maysville

The Bank of Maysville, established in 1834, is the oldest bank in Kentucky. Several small, local banks flourish in Maysville and the surrounding area. These banks truly deliver personal service, partly because almost everyone knows everyone else. You treat your old schoolmates, neighbors and the guy who sits at the table next to you in a restaurant the best you can. Otherwise, you go out of business.

I have a small connection to this bank. In the main branch there is a large safe with a huge, round door like ones you see in movies. Two people can easily walk through the safe door side-by-side. My grandfather worked at Mosler Safe Company during the 1920's and 1930's when this safe was manufactured. Being a machinist, every safe Mosler manufactured during that time including this one, contains parts my grandfather fabricated. Kinda neat.

Read the full post

The Pulse is a weekly series at the Maysville Kentucky Blog where we pull something we found in the blogosphere that relates to Maysville and share it with our readers.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Seasons Greetings E-Christmas Card

Nothing brings to mind Christmas Eve more so than the sounds and images wrapped together in this animated E-Card. There's lots of little details for you so make sure you watch for them. Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Then & Now

Christmas in Maysville Kentucky then:

Christmas in Maysville Kentucky now:

Friday, December 22, 2006

Exporting Maysville Christmas Cheer

Maysville Kentucky is exporting Christmas cheer this year. Two local Christmas miracles have made the news in other areas of the country, one picked up by a news station in Dallas, Texas, and the other across the entire country via the Associated Press.

Airmail To Santa
Let's start with the Dallas Christmas story. It started late last month when Mike Rumford noticed two balloons while working on the farm of funeral director, John Parker, near Augusta Kentucky. Attached to the balloons were letters, written in Spanish, addressed to Santa Claus. Also in the letters were phone numbers which a reverse phone directory search revealed were Dallas numbers. As it turns out, they were released by children in Dallas with the hopes that they would arrive at the North Pole. Reportedly, as they rose into the air and disappeared, they told their parents, "Santa just grabbed them." Well, they may not have made it as far as the North Pole, but they did travel over 800 miles in a single day (amazing), and did in fact land in the hands of Santa in the form of Parker. Parker was so impressed by the find that he got on a plane and flew down to Dallas with the requested gifts in tow. It's a Christmas story worthy of the Lifetime Channel.

Watch the Dallas News Station Video

Additional Links:
Santa letters' amazing journey
Errant letters to Santa lead to adventures
Balloon connection takes Bracken man bearing gifts to Texas

Picture Perfect Christmas
The second story is no less amazing. It involves a photograph taken by Terry Prather at the Ledger Independent of the holiday decorations in downtown Maysville Kentucky, during a brief snow fall earlier this month. The photo itself is amazing, or as the Lexington Herald-Leader calls it: "snowflakes-falling-lightly-on-Americana-perfection photograph of the picturesque Northern Kentucky town's downtown at Christmas". First published by the Ledger, the photograph was picked up by the Associated Press and distributed all across the country. The Christmas miracle here, however, becomes apparent when you think of how much the photograph was a matter of timing. It has been unseasonably warm here in Kentucky this Christmas. The snow that fell on that day was our only snowfall this season. It wasn't particularly heavy and quickly disappeared with the afternoon sun. In fact, Christmas day itself is predicted to be miserably wet not from snow, but from rain. So how cool is it that this year, the hallmark of an Americana White Christmas, all across the country, is our own little town of Maysville.

White Christmas in Maysville Kentucky Photograph

Additional Links:
Holiday finery under fire
(Lexington Herald wonders why Lexington's decorations suck after seeing ours)
Blame it on Maysville
(Ledger Independent responds with an appropriate "ha-ha")

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mason County Kentucky Street Signs

They say you can find anything on the Internet. Nuh, uh. If that were true, you could pick some obscure topic... you know, like "street signs in Mason County Kentucky", and find a whole page devoted to just Maysville Kentucky street signs, compiled by a guy who is really obsessed with street signs.

Oh, I guess you can. Click here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ripley Ohio Riverwalk Pictures

Several posts about Ripley Ohio's Riverwalk later, and I finally get around to posting pictures

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Reader Comment About Ripley Ohio's Riverwalk

A reader posted a response to our article "Ripley Ohio's Riverwalk: Money Well Spent", presenting an entirely different way to look at it. I felt it was valid enough to have its own post. Michelle said...

Jeremy, I read your comments on Ripley Ohio's river walk project and I have a different perspective than yours. Ripley Ohio and Front Street especially has been my absolute favorite place to visit for many, many, many years. Of course, as you might have guessed, like you, I love looking at that view of the mighty Ohio RIver with the hills of KY across the way and that georgeous bend in the river where you can see some of the best sunsets imaginable. But my love of Ripley's Front Street goes way beyond seeing the river. Until the river walk project began and was completed there were many other things that drew me and others to Front Street. Here they are; The tree-lined street, or a more accurate description of Front street might be "lane." The 20 trees that were bulldozed for the project were once majestic and provided cool shade in the summer. The ones along the river bank softened the rivers edge and added character to the view. No, they did not "obstruct" the river-view. That would be like saying that palm trees block the ocean's view and should be cut down. The trees silohetted against the sky and water were a photographer and painter's dream. There used to be a special tree with a plaque that read "here is where Liza the slave crossed from Kentucky to Ripley to freedom." That tree, which was featured on the front page of the Ripley Bee years ago is now gone along with the plaque. Bald eagles have nested just a few miles down river from Ripley. There used to be recent sightings of them in the large trees on Front Street. That will not be happening again. In the spring the air was filled with bird song. Also, gone. The road used to be a straight tree lined street that seemed to go to infinity. Now it is curved and naked of trees. The street itself is now black top. Unlike you, I never felt that the river walk "ended" at Cohart's.

People for generations have strolled along the grassy bank all the way up and down Front Street, it's always been there under your feet to walk anytime. No one needed a designated concrete overlook in order to walk, stop and see the beauty all around them. The overlooks, all three of them are pristine white combed concrete. On them are way too many lights- 2 tall street lights plus at least 6 shorter lamps all in a row on each of the three overlooks. I used to love walking down Front Street at night. Not now. I did just that last weekend. This was my experience of it; the street is lit up like daylight and I happened to have a newspaper in my hand. I was able to read every word from Cohart's river house resaurant all the way to the Signal House B & B. I tried to look at the river but it was almost painful to do so. The glare from the many new lights blinded my view. I stood at an over-look and the white glare from the lower lights just behind/beside me were in my perephial vision and I was unable to make out the river the way I used to. A barge went by and it was not as dramatic because of the competing lights leaking into my view from the sides. I tried to talk to someone walking towards me and we both shielded our eyes from the street lamps as we tried to make eye contact with each other as you normally do.

I thought of the many summers when I would watch the fireflies come out of the river bank and house's yards on Front Street- it was almost magical. They will barely be visable now. Several weeks ago I and several of my friends from Cincinnati stood on Front Street and star-gazed. It was beautiful. I tried doing this last week and with the blinding lights I could barely make out the stars above. The folks who live in those beautiful old houses on Front Street will have a different experience of sitting out on their porches at night now. Their houses and front porches are lit up like store fronts. Probably looks great to the people across the river. It's as though Ripley is posturing and showing off it's beautiful old homes for the people on the other side of the river. They've literally spot-lit them. The people who planned this on paper seemed to forget that there are actually people living in these homes and have porches they liked to sit out on and bedrooms that they sleep in at night. And now one living in these homes are allowed to park in front of their houses anymore. Are we trying to give the illusion that Front Street is merely a museum and not a real neighborhood of Ripley's working class people? As far as drawing more people to Front Street with all of these modern changes I don't believe it will.

Front Street is supposed to be Ripley's "HISTORIC" district. Yes, the old houses with their plaques telling the place in history they have are still standing. And the river will always be there. But the quaintness, the "Mayberry" feel is gone. It used to be easy to imagine the slaves escaping to freedom on the dark banks of the river on Front Street. They looked for the lantern up on Rankin Hill overlooking Front Street and they would climb the steep stairs to freedom to Rev. Rankin's hill-top house. It's impossible to see it that way anymore with the concrete over-looks and the many, many blinding street lights and low lights turning the night into day. The slave catchers would see their slaves clear from Kentucky to Front Street the way it is now. Should we be worried that someone will want to illuminate the hill-side steps that lead up to the Rankin house with rows of low-lights? Will grants and a committee push for this next? New side walks (the original width and contour), a repaired street, underground electric and sewers are all good improvements for Front Street. So was the iron fencing replacing the chain link on the river side. The design of the street lights is lovely but the bulb wattage is way too bright and there are too many lamps. And a "few" trees having to go would have been acceptable and forgiveable. If just these improvements had been made I believe Front Street could have retained it's elegant and charming look and "mood" to both resident and visitor.

I have seen absolutely NO sensitivity given to Front Street being a registered "historic" district as the design and later the actual construction of the project got underway. It now looks like so many other river fronts in Cincinnati and Kentucky; modern, brightly lit and snazzy. The people who pushed so hard for all of this are excited about the benches and how they picture many people sitting on them and gazing at the river. Maybe in the cool of the day or very early on a summer morning. But not in July with NO TREES, concrete under your feet and black top at your back. And not at night as you literally shield your eyes from the electric lights. Ripley will always be a great little river town because of it's friendly people. Sure, you can say that Front Street is now neat, new and up-to-date. How much stronger the riverbank is now with the trees gone and the concrete overlooks in is still left to be seen until after a few high-waters and possibly a minor flood occur. I hope and pray that they were right on this one. But Front Street has been scarred for life. It is unrecognizable. What did Joni Mitchell sing? I think it went like this "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise to put up a parking lot." This could be Front Street's anthem.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Pulse: Courtside With Danny Weddle

This week's Pulse isn't a single blog post, but rather an entire blog. We've mentioned it before, but in case you missed it or are otherwise obsessed with Mason County sports, it's worth another look. The blog is Courtside With Danny Weddle. Weddle is a sports commentator with WFTM, Maysville Kentucky's radio station. In his daily posts, Weddle presents abstracts from local games. Here's an excerpt from today's post:
Mason County had an easier than expected win (76-44) over Perry Country Central Saturday night. The Royals played outstanding defense in that game. The Commodores shot just 34.1% from the field. Mason County also showed it can win big even when Darius Miller doesn't score a lot. Miller had nine points.

Read the blog

The Pulse is a weekly series at the Maysville Kentucky Blog where we pull something we found in the blogosphere that relates to Maysville and share it with our readers.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Girl in the Groove: Rosemary in Time Magazine

On February 23, 1953, this Time Magazine issue graced all the newsstands. The cover story was "Girl in the Groove", an article all about the up and coming career of singer-actress Rosemary Clooney, Maysville Kentucky's own girl-singer. The caption reads: "Keep it simple, keep it sexy, keep it sad." Though the article was written in 1953, when Rosemary was 24, one can look back and say the caption eerily set the pace for the rest of Rosemary's life.

Thanks to Time's archiving of past cover stories, you can read the full article, "Girl in the Groove", online at this site.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The River Junk Game

In Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck describes the joy of seasonal river rises. All manner of things come floating down the river with the rise of the waters. A June rise is what provided him with the canoe and raft he spent most of his journey on.

Like Huck, I've long been a river rat myself. My teenage years were spent growing up in Cincinnati and quite a bit of my time during those years were spent along the banks of the Ohio River. When you have little money, you can't afford better entertainment than strolling through Sawyer Point. During these walks I'd find plenty of garbage washed up along the shoreline, but also bigger, weirder things -- I once encountered a complete toilet bowl.

Naturally when you encounter a toilet bowl sitting mysteriously at the edge of the river, you wonder how it got there. I've wondered about many things like that. For example, the six-foot octopus that we mentioned someone finding in the Ohio River in August. Octopuses are salt water creatures, so it's likely someone dumped it in there after it died, rather than it having lived in the Ohio. What the heck led to the dumping of a six-foot octopus in the river?

I call it the River Junk Game. It's great for the kids if you can keep them from actually touching the junk. The way the game goes is this: You put on some mud boots and go walking along the river bank looking at all the things that have washed up. It can be a big thing or a little thing, but the idea is to imagine where the thing came from, and what caused it to be there. It can be as simple as a Coke can -- some guy in Pittsburgh was drinking the Coke at Triangle Park when he was startled and the can fell in the river. You can keep it as simple or as elaborate as you want. If in a group, you can even award points or vote on whose story was the best.

The story behind the toilet bowl might take more imagining than you'd care to do. P.S. Still never figured that one out.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Road Construction Photograph Taken Around 1940

City workers constructing downtown Maysville Kentucky street sometime around 1940.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Weird Things In The Ohio River

I'm sure Maysville city worker Eddie Simms was a little surprised to find a three foot alligator in a dumpster near the Maysville High School Apartments recently (See this photo in the Ledger Independent). In all likelihood the alligator was a pet that was tossed after it died. Still, I was joking with some friends about the possibility that it had crawled out of the Ohio River and into the dumpster for warmth. Inspired by this idea, I decided to do a little searching to see if any alligators were ever actually found in the Ohio. You know the old story: A kid has a pet alligator and flushes it down the toilet. The alligator grows into a huge beast living in the sewers. You never know.

Well, I hit pay dirt (wish I had bet on it). Not only have people found crocodiles and piranha-like tropical fish in the Ohio River over the years, in August of this year, they caught an octopus. That's right an octopus. And not just any octopus, this octopus was six feet long! It was caught by an Indiana man looking for catfish in the Ohio River across from Louisville.

Weird but true. Full Story

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Prichard Tapes

Sometimes in politics you can only say what you really wanted to say after you are dead and gone. That seems to be what New Deal activist and political commentator, Edward F. Prichard Jr., was thinking when he made candid tapes criticizing education in Kentucky and lambasting Supreme Court Justice and Maysville notable Stanley Reed as well as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, President Harry S. Truman, President Jimmy Carter, and others. After recording these criticism, he locked them away with the stipulation that they weren't to be released until he and his wife had passed away.

The tapes were released to the Kentucky Oral History Commission after the death of Prichard's wife in June.

Some of the commentary is downright entertaining. For example, when describing a visit to the White House to dine with President Roosevelt, he recalls:

The Frankfurters took me to the White House to dinner (in 1939). There wasn't anybody there but the President and Mrs. Roosevelt and the Frankfurters and me. And we ate in the family dining room.

I spilled some of the green beans on the floor.

Well, I was horribly embarrassed, particularly at the thought that when the president was wheeled out in his wheelchair he would go right by my little mess of green beans. And this kept me in a tizzy all during the dinner, but I was saved by his dog who cuddled up to my chair and licked the green beans and left not a trace of 'em.

I never was a man so grateful to a dog.

Of Maysville's beloved Stanley Reed, he said:

Reed was not an intellectual heavyweight. He was rather a dull person, you know, perfectly decent, tried hard, worked hard, although Phil Graham (Prichard's friend who later became publisher of The Washington Post) and I used to say the motto on Reed's crest was "Anything for a free meal." He went to every party in Washington to which he was invited.

That's not a very flattering portrayal. I guess some things really should be said posthumously.

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Jeffersonian Voting in Kentucky Politics

One of our readers (Ken Downing) sent us a referral to an article in the National Journal that makes the case that, as they put it, that "There has long been hearty, though lopsided, political competition in Kentucky, with most of the 120 counties voting today as they did in the Civil War era."

According to the article, which provides a crib sheet on Kentucky politics, most of the state has stuck to its various political values over the past century. In many ways a Jeffersonian Kentucky still exists. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote Notes on Virginia while Kentucky was still a part of Virginia, had a lot of influence in the early commonwealth. He was a fan of the idealism of commonwealths and when it came time for Kentucky to join the Union as a full-fledged state (while Jefferson was secretary of state), Jefferson ghostwrote the Kentucky Resolutions (1798).

Little has changed in our political ideals since then.

The eastern mountains were pro-Union and remain Republican, except for counties where coal miners were organized by the United Mine Workers in the 1930s; the Bluegrass region and the western end of the state were slaveholding territory and Democratic, though they have shifted to Republicans in the last decade. Louisville, with many German immigrants, was an anti-slavery town, and for years flirted with Republicans; Jefferson County recently has voted narrowly Democratic, though by margins small enough to be offset by Republican margins in fast-growing suburban Oldham and Bullitt Counties.

With population increases comparatively low and few outsiders moving in, the article also points out that most of today's Kentuckians are descendants of the same settlers we keep talking about in our more historical articles. Those who come to Kentucky, stay in Kentucky, but few actually come here. Unlike many other states whose backgrounds have blurred with time, Kentucky remains a sort of lost world. If we do in fact bleed blue, it's a pure blue.

The article is a pretty comprehensive summary of Kentucky politics within the context of Kentucky's entire history as a commonwealth. It's definitely worth the read. Check it out.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Pulse: Local Winery Wins Competition

This week's Pulse comes from Nancy Bentley at Kinkead Ridge Vineyard and Estate Winery Blog. Nancy is owner of the Vineyard in Ripley Ohio and her blog post is about winning several awards in the American Wine Society International Commercial Competition.
Kinkead Ridge entered four wines into the American Wine Society International Commercial Competition. Four medals. The 2004 Cabernet Franc was awarded a DOUBLE GOLD, which means every judge awarded it a gold medal. Of 695 entries, only THREE received this incredible result, and only two were for vinifera wines, the other a Barbera from California.

Read the full post

The Pulse is a weekly series at the Maysville Kentucky Blog where we pull something we found in the blogosphere that relates to Maysville and share it with our readers.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Pirate Publicity: Readership Drive

As the new year inches closer on the horizon, we've been working overtime behind the scenes programming dozens of new features that we hope to unveil in early January. As we get closer to that date, we'll be promoting the Maysville Kentucky Blog and the main site Maysville Explorer more. You can help in this process. If you enjoy reading the articles here, please take a few moments to let others know about us. There's several ways you can do that, but the easiest is to click the "email post to friend" icon below. Tell your friends why you enjoy reading our humble blog and ask them to visit >

< to sign up for updates. Aware of the fact that it's easy to get lost on the web and never find your way back home, the update list is our way of reminding you that something cool is coming to Maysville. Your email will only be used for a one-time notification of the Maysville Explorer service launch.

In the movie Pirates of the Carribean, Commodore Norrington says to Captain Jack Sparrow: "You are without doubt the worst pirate I've ever heard of."

Sparrow replies: "Ah, but you have heard of me."

Pirate publicity works solely on word of mouth.

To read about pirates on the Ohio River, click here.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Maysville Kentucky Had Its Own Ben Franklin

Benjamin J. Franklin was a descendant of the Ben Franklin and was born in Maysville, Kentucky in 1839. He taught school for some time before practicing law. Later he was elected to the Kentucky Senate but never actually served. Instead, he entered the Confederate Army at the outbreak of the Civil War as a private and was promoted to Captain by war's end. After the war he practiced law between two terms as Kentucky's Representative to Congress (1875-1879).

In 1890 he relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, and was appointed as Arizona's Territorial Governor a few years later. He served from April 18, 1896, to July 29, 1897. Arizona was not a state at the time and Franklin worked towards statehood while in office. He also supported the irrigation of dry Arizona lands and a taxation of the railroads. When he left office, railroads still escaped taxation, Arizona was still a territory, and the land was still arid, but he had only served a year. A heart attack forced him to leave office and return to practicing law. Within a year, he died of another heart attack.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Two More "My Old Kentucky Home" Videos

It occured to me that not everyone may be familiar with Kentucky's theme song, "My Old Kentucky Home". Some of our visitors here, according to the stats, come from such diverse places as Singapore, Bucharest, and Amsterdam. Though logically these are either people in military service stationed abroad, or people who arrived here by mistake, there's always the possibility that some foreigners might actually be interested in Maysville, or Kentucky in general.

According to Wikipedia, "My Old Kentucky Home" was written by Stephen Foster in 1853 and was adopted by the Kentucky General Assembly as the official state song on March 19, 1928. There's some slight controversy to the song as its original version contained the word "darkies" to describe blacks living in Kentucky. In 1986, however, the Kentucky General Assembly adopted a version unlikely to cause offense in which the original word "darkies" was changed to "people."

You don't get a much purer version than the following video in which former Kentucky governor, A. B. "Happy" Chandler, sings the Kentucky anthem prior to a UK basketball game:

A slightly different version was recorded by singer/song writer Randy Newman in 1970. Randy Newman wrote the adaptation presenting a far less sentimental view of Kentucky life, but nonetheless undeniably Kentuckyian:

I personally love both versions for different reasons. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but I'm actually a Kentuckian myself. Although my family moved around quite a bit as I was growing up, due to my dad's twenty or so year military career, I was born at Fort Knox, near Louisville.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Maysville Native Survived Pearl Harbor

According to the Ledger Independent, a local man was stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked on December 7, 1941, sixty-five years ago today. Clarence "Red" Cracraft, a Maysville Kentucky native, kept a journal of his experiences during the Japanese attack that led to U.S. involvement in World War II. The journal was discovered by his wife after he passed away and has since been donated to a museum in Pearl Harbor by his daughter. In the journal, he describes the events that transpired in the moments when the base came under fire: "Was up at 7:30 a.m. and in the latrine washing when I first heard what appeared to me to be a dive bomber," Cracraft wrote. "Just a few seconds later I heard a big explosion from the Wheeler Field direction. So I looked out the window and saw large black smoke from Wheeler Field."

I looked without success for the full journal online, but you can read some excerpts in this Ledger article.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Amazing Video: My Old Kentucky Home

This video is amazing. A woman returning from a two week trip to Europe started singing this classic Kentucky song while on board the airplane. Much to her surprise, the entire crowd joined in. Beautiful.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ripley Ohio's River Walk: Money Well Spent

When we said that Ripley Ohio's River Walk would cost in the neighborhood of $550,000, we thought, as you might, that the price tag sure is a heck of a lot of money. As it turns out, that was just for the dock. The entire project is expected to run around $2.17 million. Now that is a lot of money. Still, now that Phase 1 of the change is nearing completion, I'd have to say it is already money well spent. Sure, right now it's mostly just a repaving of the road that runs from Main Street out to the John Parker Museum, along with a brick sidewalk and some extensions to the riverbank that allow for sitting back and watching the river go by while preventing erosion of the riverbank. That's what it looks like on the surface, but it's really so much more.

I was out in Ripley today and really noticed the difference when I realized I was actually walking beyond the point that I would normally walk. Before, the "riverfront" ended abruptly just past the Riverhouse Restaurant. Walking further down, you have the opportunity to see all of the majestic beautiful houses lining the river, that really makes Ripley great, that you may not have noticed before there was incentive to walk down that far. You tend to overlook things like that when you drive down Front Street, probably because the river distracts your eyes in that direction. When walking, your eyes roam more.

I don't know if the folks who spent the money agree that it's money well spent, but as an outsider looking in on Ripley, I feel it has radically changed the already incredible riverfront for the better. That will naturally attract more tourism dollars to the area. Phase 2 of the project involves the construction of the docking area, which will really hit the project home since Ripley is close enough to attract Cincinnati boaters.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Pulse: Jazz And Lights At Caproni's

This week's Pulse comes from David Hall at "Sax Notes" and his blog post is about the Christmas lights at Caproni's On The River and playing jazz there.

Click on the photo to enlarge

Christmas lights are on display at Caproni's in Maysville. Owner Jerry Lundergan has once again outdone himself with a wonderful display of lights around the restaurant. Located beside the train track next to the Ohio River, the lights shown above of the train is only a portion of the restaurant's display.

I broke out the Christmas jazz for my gig there Saturday night. As is usual for our Saturday nights, we had an excellent crowd and a good time was had by all. There was also a private Christmas party in the Rosemary Clooney room.

Read the full post

The Pulse is a weekly series at the Maysville Kentucky Blog where we pull something we found in the blogosphere that relates to Maysville and share it with our readers.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Arduous Journeys

Ken Downing said...
The trip down the river from Wheeling took 30 to 40 days and could only be done in the spring or fall. Winter the river froze and summer it was too shallow in many places for the flatboats to float. Then there was the Indians on the north side of the river. A constant threat.

On our trip to Washington D.C., we stopped in one place along I-68 in Maryland called "Sideling Hill". It was part of the original US 40 that way back in the 1700s formed part of the National Road. Still, as late as 1930, it was considered a dangerous crossing. To get across just this area you had to cross five mountains in just 40 miles. According to the markers put up, many stagecoaches fell off the side of the mountain, killing the passengers. And that's just one part of the trip. The entire journey from the civilized East coast to the frontier lands of Kentucky was not something you'd likely forget.

The frozen river mentioned reminded me that I had this picture bookmarked:

Doesn't that look like fun? The caption reads: "Despite warnings from police that rescue would be almost impossible, strollers get fish eye view as they walk across the ice on the Ohio River." The picture was taken January 19, 1977 in Cincinnati.

In response to our article The Thank God I Made It Town.