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 @

Friday, June 30, 2006

Where the Powder Magazine Was

Alright, I am nearly blind now thanks to one of our readers who responded to our article yesterday about the Great Maysville Explosion and asked: "Can you tell from the article the exact, present day, location of the explosion?"

Unfortunately, the scan of the Maysville Eagle that we posted, which contains the particulars of the event, is part of an online digital collection that lacked the foresight to make it a high enough resolution where you can zoom in and actually read it, although we do appreciate making it available : ) I ended up running some sharpening filters on it and was able to come up with (as near as I can tell) this:

"Those at a distance not acquainted with the localities about Maysville, will understand that remarkably - although the damage is immense [something about how bad it was] - the destruction was not much greater, when we tell them that the Powder Magazine was blown up, together with three other magazines, [and] is situated in the narrow hollow or gorge along which the Maysville and Lexington Turnpike ascends the hill back and south of the City, at a distance of less than a third of a mile from the Court House and the heart of the City."

It goes on to say that nearly 4,000 people were sleeping within one mile of the explosion that occured around 2 o'clock in the morning. Their point is that it could have been much worse, although the damage was estimated to be around $100,000 (an incredible amount for the times) and that the 800 kegs of powder stored there destroyed 13 homes, did damage to the surrounding buildings, and even damaged parts of Aberdeen, Ohio. Many people were killed or crippled as a result of the blast - I didn't catch how many and the article probably didn't say since it was published the day after the explosion.

I'm thinking that since the damage to the First Presbyterian Church is on the left side of the building (facing the river) that the "narrow hollow" they're speaking of is the winding road heading up the hill past the Hayswood Hospital.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Great Maysville Explosion

Maysville Eagle: 1854

Maysville Eagle, 1854 - This describes a devastating explosion which occurred in the Maysville Powder Magazine. Maysville suffered extensive damage and the town of Aberdeen, Ohio across the Ohio River was also damaged. Rewards were offered but the solution to the cause of the explosion was never learned. $500 was offered by the owner of the Magazine, $500 by the City, and $500 by citizens of Maysville, for a total of $1,500 - a fortune for the times. Around town, evidence of the explosion can still be seen, including a crater in the side of the First Presbyterian Church on Third Street.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Stables at Willow Oak Farm

Located just 8 miles from historic Maysville, Kentucky, along the Licking River, The Stables at Willow Oak Farm offers stabling, boarding, and riding adventures. Owners Bill and Lesa have an interesting story about how they got their start on the farm as well.

From their web site:

About six years ago we decided to leave our hectic schedules and buy a farm. Our goal was to return to a more simple lifestyle where we could enjoy our horses and not have to venture away from home. We discovered the most beautiful piece of land in Maysville, Ky. In October of 2000 we were married in a cowboy style wedding under two 150 year old oak trees on the property and the journey began.

We shared a vision that most couldn't see. The kids thought that we were crazy when we lived in a leaky 10x12 travel trailer in the tobacco barn, without electricity or running water, for over six months. We cleared land for our lake, built a cabin to live in, that now serves as the guest house, ran water and electric lines, built our log house, and finally our stable. It was a five year adventure that I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams!

We love our place which Bill named Willow Oak Farm after one of his favorite trees.

The Stables at Willow Oak Farm Web Site

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Nineteen Lincolns

Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky near Hodgenville and his wife, Mary Todd, came from Lexington. I'm not aware of any direct connection of Lincoln to the area, but he undoubtedly stopped through here at some point in his life.

A new series by photographer Greta Pratt records the impression of Lincoln by nineteen Abraham Lincoln impersonators, photographed on the wood fence outside the 16th president's old Kentucky home. These men all belong to The Association of Lincoln Presenters, and they are very passionate about the man. They chose to portray Lincoln for different reasons, but each looks up to him in some way.

Pratt says on her web site:

"Physically Lincoln was an awkward man, tall and gangly, with a hollow face and wild hair. Yet in spite of his lack of formal education, modest means, and physical awkwardness, Lincoln rose to the highest office in the land. Lincoln is revered because he embodies one of America’s most cherished tenets, that the common man, through sheer hard work and determination, can elevate his status in society."

"The portraits share a muted palate of colors that binds them together as a group suggesting a communal identity. The background, a softly focused landscape, references historic portrait painting and connects the Lincolns to the vast American wilderness where the common man was able to build a new life."

"These photographs are a continuation of my quest to understand how I, and we, remember history. My intention is to comment on the way a society, composed of individuals, is held together through the creation of its history and heroic figures."

View the Gallery

Monday, June 26, 2006

$127,000 Maysville Desk Sold at Auction

An inlaid cherry desk bookcase, which experts believe was probably made in Maysville, Kentucky, around 1790-1810, sold June 4th for $127,000 at Skinner Inc., an auction house in Boston. The piece, also called a Hepplewhite butler's desk with bookcase, is possibly by a Mason County school of design. It has extensive inlay including four eagles with a "liberty" cap.

The desk was owned by Revolutionary War soldier George Carlyle, who immigrated to Woodford County, Kentucky, in 1779 and whose family owned the piece until the auction.

Full Story

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Banana Tree Studios

You may recall that we mentioned the opening of a new artist's gallery in the Old Tobacco Factory on Electric Avenue of Flemingsburg back in March. It's called Banana Tree Studios (See: New Art Studio Opens in Flemingsburg from our March 2006 issue) and they appear to be in full swing with an ever expanding calendar of events.

Today (June 25th) from 6 to 7 pm, they will be hosting "5th Salon", a social gathering of artists. All artists (and the general public I'd imagine) are invited to come to the social gathering. Coming up on June 27th, 6 to 7 pm, guest speaker E. B. Lewis, illustrator of children’s books, such as “The Bat Boy & His Violin,” “Sometime My Mommy Gets Angry,” and “The Otherside,” will be holding a lecture at the studio.

Gallery Hours are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 am to 4 pm or by appointment. Classes in ceramics and painting are available.

Banana Tree Studios, 121 East Electric Ave., Flemingsburg. Check them out. For more information call (606) 845-7408 or (606) 356-1356 or e-mail .

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Huge Estate Auction

If you love auctions, we've got one for you. Craig Stanfield of Stanfield Properties is having a huge estate auction from 10 am to 8 pm today at the Simon Kenton Warehouse located on Fleming Road. There's way too many items to list here, but the merchandise comes from an estate and three households... so, yeah, there's plenty for everyone.

One highlighted lot includes an outstanding Victorian reproduction parlor set in pristine condition, consisting of a gorgeous Rose Carved Medallion back sofa and matching Medallion back rose carved loveseat, two rose backed side chairs and a matching rose backed gossip bench, and four marble top stands. The whole set is worth about $10,000. There are also a few vehicles, some building supplies, tools, furniture, antiques and household items.

Reportedly there is also a 1978 Corvette up for auction. I'll be taking that one : ) More information about the auction can be found in this Ledger article and over at Craig Stanfield's web site.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Video File: The Underground Railroad in Maysville

As part of KET's Underground Railroad - Passage to Freedom Documentary, filmakers explored the Marshall Key house and its relationship to Harriet Beecher Stowe, the Paxton Inn as a safe house, the origination of the name Underground Railroad as slaveholder propaganda, and the National Underground Railroad Museum in Maysville.

Requires the free RealPlayer plugin available here. (If you don't see the video player above, download and install the plugin, then refresh this page.)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Free Concerts: Live Music on Second Street

What's better than live music on a cool summer night? Free live music! No cover charge, no purchase necessary, just bring a chair and your friends. In an effort to shed a spotlight on independent music, Maysville Kentucky-based iMP (Indie Music Project) has teamed up with the Ledger Independent and Radio Shack to bring you free concerts at the pavilion on Second Street next to U.S. Bank. The free concerts will be held every Thursday from 7 pm to 10 pm throughout the summer (weather permitting).

"The music is live. We have Americana style music, younger rock, country, and I am looking to bring reggae to town," said Justin Parnell, the event's promoter, in a recent interview with the Ledger. "I want to invite bands around the country to come to Maysville to play."

This week's show will be indie rock and Radio Shack will be giving away a Motorola SLVR and an Apple iPod to some luck audience member. Nice.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

4 Cat Studios

Simone Sachs of 4 cat studio creates these beautiful hand-crafted collages in her Maysville studio, including gift cards and posters.

“Through paper arts, like handcrafted cards, I have the opportunity to explore color combinations and experiment with embellishments on a small scale. Working with collages of textured paper and fabrics invokes the essential sense of touch in my art that I find so fulfilling while in the garden.”

4 cat studio artwork can be found at In the Hands of Angels, 126 Market Street, downtown. A huge assortment of the art work can also be found at the web site:

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

No Thanks, Keep Your Garbage

It's nice when people give you gifts. Some cash in a birthday card, very nice, thank you. Dinner on me, absolutely. But dumping bags of garbage in our backyards... umm, no thanks, you can keep that. I got a healthy dose of "what the heck?" when I read this article over at the Ledger Independent today. According to the piece, someone has been dumping bags of garbage in the bushes of nearby Bracken County. They seem to have gone out of their way to do it as well. Two piles of garbage were stuffed away near the train tracks, viewable from the tracks themselves but not from Kentucky 8, the main road through the area.

The truly odd part is that it appears that the garbage came from Covington, Kentucky, two counties over! A pill bottle found in the trash was filled on a prescription from a Covington dentist and had a Covington residential address on it. The rest of the garbage also appeared to be household garbage. So what kind of person drives two counties away and dumps their garbage in the bushes? The mystery is unsolved, but Bracken County Solid Waste coordinators hope to learn more as they continue to sift through the garbage.

Weird. A piece of advice to Covington residents... they have dumpsters there, you know, and with gas prices the way they are these days, you might save a buck keeping your garbage to yourself : ) Nice town, btw. I love Mainstrausse.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Buildings on Third Street, Maysville Kentucky


I got these photos in an email recently along with this note:

I am sending you some pictures we took when we were in Maysville three years ago. If you'd like to post any of them on the blog, choose the ones you find most interesting and post them. It is okay with us. We think they are all beautiful, but we are prejudiced!

Jane B. Johnson
Swanzey, NH

I found them all interesting and beautiful as well! Thanks Jane : )

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The South is Safe

The South is Safe - The Louisville Democrat - January 3, 1861

Reads: "Gentlemen: I learn that my old friend, William Varble, left, yesterday, for Charleston, South Carolina, to aid the South in her struggle for justice and her rights (in or out of the Union). He says the thing must be settled; that the North has imposed upon the rights of the South long enough, and that he intends to settle the whole difficulty before he returns to old Kentucky. The gallant Varble carried with him an old-fashioned shot gun and an old rusty rifle. The difficulties between the North and South will now be settled, and the country will owe much to our gallant friend and patriot Varble."

The Civil War officially commenced in April of 1861. South Carolina, having succeeded from the United States in their own minds, saw Union forces in Fort Sumter as an occupying army in their new sovereign nation. The battle to remove those forces kicked off the Civil War. The article above, dated in January of that year, shows some of the tension leading up to the Civil War. Politicians debated back and forth before South Carolina officially withdrew from the United States.

If you missed the satire in the article, its author was pretty much saying: "Oh alright, problem solved. Here comes Varble to the rescue. Varble will take care of it. Yeah, right." The article didn't mention what became of William Varble. If he did intend to settle things with his "old-fashioned shot gun" and "old rusty rifle", then he most likely would have participated in the Battle of Fort Sumter.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Mattie, Johnny, and the Smooth White Stones

You may recall that we wrote about a new historical movie that was being filmed in the Maysville area in our November 2005 issue. That film is set to make its premier screening in Ripley, tonight at 7 pm. The movie is about a slave couple's struggle to be properly married during the 1850s. It's called "Mattie, Johnny and the Smooth White Stones, Part II" and is directed by Cassandra Hollis, who also stars as the character Mattie. Part of the movie was filmed in the basement of the Phillip's Folly on Sutton Street and shows the scene where two characters are hiding from slave chasers. The production company, Holy Hills Productions, has already received acclaim from the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program for the first part of the film and its authentic rendition of this part of the nation's history.

According to the Holy Hills Productions web site:

From the time that slavery began in the late 1600s until its end in 1863, thousands of slaves escaped to their freedom. Many were led by Harriet Tubman on the Underground Railroad. And then there were those who ran away into the night on their own. And then, there was... Mattie.

Mattie and Johnny are two slaves who are in love and hope to marry officially. They decide to runaway when Johnny learns that he will be sold in two days because the plantation owner found out that he had been teaching other slaves how to read and write. So, Mattie and Johnny plan to escape on the Underground Railroad.

They planned for Mattie to run off into the woods first and Johnny would meet her later by the tree with the Smooth White Stones arranged in the shape of a cross.

Something goes terribly wrong with their plan and audiences will be shocked to see what the combination of faith and love produced...

Full Story

Friday, June 16, 2006

Old Washington's Upgrade

It's always nice when project planners incorporate history into the future of a community. That's why Old Washington, Inc., the group in charge of bringing the historic village into the present and future gets a gold star for involving Orloff Miller, a PhD. and archaeologist, into the project planning. Part of the project consists of placing power lines and telephone wires underground. Old Washington had received federal funding to complete the project and because it's the Feds, an archaeologist was required to monitor the effort.

Luckily Maysville had an archaeologist living in the community. Miller and his wife had moved to the area about a year ago, just when things were starting to get underway in Old Washington. And according to sources, his very welcomed contributions come cheap.

Miller's work, according to this Mason County Beat article, is strictly voluntary – as is the work of everyone else involved in the task.

"This is a voluntary effort. There are no paid consultants. I'm volunteering my time," Miller said in an interview with the Beat.

Often these things go unappreciated, so if you see Mr. Miller, tell him thanks. More about Orloff Miller can be found in this Ledger Independent article.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Valentine Peers Collins: 1838 - 1905

Excerpt From the Cincinnati Post - 6/2/2003:

He kept the home fires burning
Cincinnati Post
Jim Reis, Post staff reporter

Born in Maysville, Collins spent most of his years in Covington. His life included stints as a lumberjack and a lumber warehouse guard in pioneer Minnesota. He also worked on riverboats and packets, operated a coal-hauling firm, spent several years on the Covington Board of Education, served as president of the Kenton County Water Co. and served on the board of Highland Cemetery.

Collins was born in Maysville in 1838. He was the son of Lewis Collins and brother of Richard Collins. Lewis and Richard Collins would become the publishers of one of the most comprehensive books on the early history of Kentucky.

Unlike his father and brother, however, Val Collins was not interested in printing. His calling would be of a more adventurous nature.

In that regard, Val Collins followed in the footsteps of his namesake. Valentine Peers was his grandfather on his mother's side of the family. A major in the Virginia militia during the Revolutionary War, Valentine Peers served with Gen. George Washington at Valley Forge.

Peers later ran a cotton mill in Maysville and served as a judge. He died in Maysville in 1830 at the age of 74. Full Story

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

X-Testers on TLC

First let me say that this article isn't really about Maysville. It's a shameless plug for a new reality show on TLC and the Discovery Channel called X-Testers that debuts this Thursday at 7 pm (et/pt) on TLC. I was hired to build their web site and promised to tell everyone I knew about it.

The X-Testers can best be described as Mythbusters meets the X-Files. Movie special effects expert and model/prop maker, Clark James, and co-host Patrick Denver, son of Bob Denver (Gilligan), travel around using their skills to re-create paranormal events - UFOs, ghosts, strange creatures, etc. - in an attempt to figure out what really happened. They don't just analyze the evidence, they attempt to find out what all would be involved if someone did hoax it. There's something for skeptics and believers alike... and well, it's just plain fun.

The X-Testers debuts Thursdays June 15, 22, & 29 on TLC at 7 pm (et/pt) and internationally in July on the Discovery Channel. You can find their brand-spanking new web site at

Now, to make this article about Maysville : )

The Maysville Players have a long standing ghost story that the Washington Opera House is haunted by the spirit of an actress named Marwas who was performing on stage until she fell through a trap door and broke her neck.

This story was posted on the Maysville Player's web site:

Submitted by: Mac Ingram
Date: May 7, 2003
Place: Opera House Lobby
Encounter: We had just wrapped up our production of "Bang Bang You're Dead". I had opened the Opera House so we could all come in and strike the set. It was several minutes after the time people were supposed to come, so I go to the door and open it. As it is halfway open I see a reflection of somoene completely in black in the glass panel. I assumed someone had come in the side door in costume (the costumes were all black). I look outside, confused, and no one is out on the sidewalk. I go back inside and no one in in there either. No one even came for twenty more minutes and no one was around the neighbordhood. Eerie, huh?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Picture-perfect Maysville

Excerpt From the Cincinnati Post - 10/13/2000:

Picture-perfect Maysville
Cincinnati Post
Geoff Williams, Post staff reporter

This is where the train meets the river - and the road. I am walking up to the Maysville Fishing Pier and Artificial Underwater Reef. Just above the entrance are railroad tracks. A locomotive is rushing past, the roar of the engine suffocating any other sound. Just ahead is the Ohio River, and looming over that is a mammoth bridge bringing cars into Kentucky from Aberdeen, Ohio. On Second Street, there is a restaurant sign that simply says Eat. Near that is the Limestone Tobacco Shop. Several blocks away is a gazebo, and near that, you'll find a neighborhood pub called O'Roarke's. Welcome to Maysville, Ky., about 50 miles east of Cincinnati on Kentucky 8. If a Hollywood producer wanted to shoot a film with a backdrop of small-town, picturesque Americana, he would be stupid to go to the trouble of building a set. Full Story

Monday, June 12, 2006

Maysville Kentucky: September 1861

From Harper's Weekly, September 1861 (an interactive scan is available here):

Having attended the Grand Union Barbecue recently held near this place, I seized the opportunity to make a sketch of the beautiful little city. It was necessarily a hasty one, but will serve to give you an idea of the scenery and situation. It was through Maysville that the Government arms were first introduced into Kentucky which had so marked an effect in preventing "precipitation;" and near here, in the lovely woodland just behind the lofty, precipitous hill on the extreme right of the picture, around which you may see winding the magnificent Macadamized road that leads to Lexington, and within sight of La belle Riviere, was held the barbecue of which I spoke. This was the largest gathering I have seen for years. There were speakers from Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. Among those from the last-named State was Hon. Horace Maynard. Colonel Charles Marshall, a prominent citizen of this community (Mason), contemplates the establishment of a camp in the vicinity of this place.

Before the introduction of railroads into the State Maysville was the grand gate-way of trade and travel between the South and East. It is still a town of considerable importance, but is principally remarkable at present for the gallantry and hospitality of its people, and the beauty of its situation, and its women.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Julie Kinney's Wooden Chains

The Wood Carver's Festival takes place in Old Washington today. Wood carving is an amazing art and this festival didn't disappoint when I stopped in, despite the weather -- and a hangover from the Wine Festival yesterday : ) One thing in particular that caught my eye is the cedar wooden chain (pictured below) from Julie Kinney of nearby Dover, Kentucky.

That entire length of chain, my friends, was hand-carved from a single piece of cedar. Each interlocking link was originally solid wood, and the links remain intact throughout the carving process. That's simply amazing. When I asked her how long it took to carve it, she simply replied, "Hours." She further explained that you don't really measure time when working on something like this.

Below is Julie Kinney's current project. The picture doesn't do it justice, but it helps to show the original state of her chains before being carved. The section that is completed includes spiraling pillars encasing a perfect sphere. The details are incredible.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Kentucky's Rich Wine History

The Maysville Uncorked Wine Festival takes place downtown today, 4pm to 10 pm, featuring wine tasting, an art show, and live music. Don't miss the block part (8-10 pm) with Phil Dirt and the Dozers!

Kentucky agriculture, in comeback mode since the decline of the tobacco industry, is looking back to its early history for a new cash crop.

In 1799, one of the first attempts at commercial winegrowing in the U.S. occurred in Kentucky, with plantings by the Kentucky Vineyard Society. By the mid-1800s the Bluegrass State was the third largest wine-producing state in America. Prohibition snuffed out the booming industry. But in 1976 a state law allowed farm wineries to operate and new vineyards and wineries soon followed.

In 1982, the defunct Kentucky Vineyard Society was resurrected. Most significant is the state program that funds half the startup cost of new vineyards. Wine grape acreage quadrupled from 1998-2002. With the new plantings, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc have gained the most ground, shifting the balance to vinifera, from native and hybrid varieties.

Today, through the cost-share program supported by the State of Kentucky's Vineyard Assistance Program, over 250 acres of grapes have been planted in Kentucky. Local wineries include the Baker-Bird Winery of Augusta that has recently re-opened.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Border State

Kentucky is well known for being a border state during the Civil War, but really it is the border state, both then and now. Today, Kentucky is the place where the South, Appalachia and the Midwest all come together to form a melting pot of culture. Local accent is even the Appalachian Twang, not the Southern Drawl. It's not as Southern as Tennessee. It's not as Midwestern as Ohio. It's not as Appalachian as West Virginia. Instead, Kentucky is a combination of all of these regional identities rolled into a distinct identitity that can only be called Kentuckian.

Even during the Civil War, Kentucky was so neither here nor there that past Kentuckians spent the first two years of the Civil War playing the Union and the Confederacy off each other (before the Union eventually occupied the state). Most of Mason County was pro-slavery, and nearby Lewis County was a hotbed of the abolitionist movement. Struggles between just these two neighboring counties often turned violent.

Although Kentucky was officially a neutral state, nearly every able-bodied man participated in the war. Brother often fought against brother as Kentucky supplied approximately 100,000 troops to the North and 40,000 troops to the South. Ironically, Kentucky was the birthplace of the Union president, Abraham Lincoln, and the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. The two opposing leaders were born in log cabins within one year and 100 miles of each other.

Fast forward a few decades and Kentucky is still partly North (or more truly Midwestern), and partly South. If you think about it, there are really only three large urban areas in the state: Louisville, Lexington, and "Northern Kentucky." Northern Kentucky is the spill over from Cincinnati, and Louisville, bordering on Indiana, is a cultural invasion from its northern neighbor as well. While both areas are legally in Kentucky and paying taxes to Frankfort, they're culturally Midwestern.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Video File: Underground Railroad Interview

As part of KET's Underground Railroad - Passage to Freedom Documentary, filmakers interviewed Eugene Settles of Ripley, Ohio. Mr. Settles is the grandson of former slave Joseph Settles, who crossed the Ohio River twice to get family members. In this interview, he tells the family history.

Requires the free RealPlayer plugin available here. (If you don't see the video player above, download and install the plugin, then refresh this page.)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Kentucky's Gateway to the South

There's a saying in the airline industry that roughly states that if you're traveling anywhere in the South, you have to pass through Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. That's probably true in most of today's plane-filled travel itineraries. In the olden days if you wanted to travel south, you had to pass through Maysville Kentucky. Maysville was the hub of travel by riverboat, train, and roadway throughout much of America's early years. In this way, Maysville was truly the original Gateway to the South.

In a recent meeting of the board of directors for the Museum Center, a motion was approved to change the name from the Maysville Museum Center to the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center (news story). While I would have personally liked "Maysville" to have been in the name somewhere, the addition of the word "Gateway" is entirely appropriate. Maysville truly was a gateway city historically.

It's no surprise that a museum that deals with history in a historical town has a history of its own. The museum was chartered as the Maysville and Mason County Library, Historical, and Scientific Association in 1878 and is said to be the oldest state historical organization in continuous existence. In 1975 the association changed focus and continued as the Mason County Museum. In 2003, the name simply became, Museum Center. A spokesperson for the now-named Kentucky Gateway Museum Center said the new name change helps to define the importance of the entire region and give it more depth. The Museum Center's coverage area is more than Mason County, after all, including five counties in Kentucky and two in Ohio.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Rosemary Clooney Dresses

This is the dress that I was talking about (See "New Exhibit at Rosemary Clooney House"). It's the dress Rosemary wore when she co-starred with Bob Hope in Here Come the Girls. I'm not sure how long it will be on display; so if you want to see it in person, you'll want to go to the Rosemary Clooney House Museum in Augusta soon.

This one's still my favorite. It's the dress she wore in White Christmas.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Maysville's Historic Transparent Pies

You don't really know Maysville until you've had a transparent pie. They're an exclusive export of the region.

According to the Pride of Kentucky Cookbook: "Transparent pies have been a favorite dessert since before refrigeration. All one needed was milk, butter from the cow, eggs from the henhouse... Local bakers keep this tradition alive, making Maysville the only area to market transparent pies and tarts in the United States. Actor George Clooney, a native of Augusta, Ky., not only travels to Maysville to purchase transparent tarts, but has brought them to share at movie sets and television studios."

You also don't know transparent pies until you've had a Magee's Bakery transparent pie. Some sixty years ago Ruth and Leslie Magee recognized the demand for this Mason County tradition, so as owners of Magee's Bakery they kept transparent pie and tarts alive. They are now so popular, they are sent all over the United States.

Magee's Bakery recently opened a new web site online that is available at There you can find out more about their historic transparent pies, other baked goods, and even order some for yourself. You can also stop into their shop at 8188 Orangeburg Road, or, if you find yourself in downtown Maysville, you can pick up some of Magee's transparent tarts at the Homefront Cafe on Second Street.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Moths of Mason County

My porch light attracts them in swarms and, to be honest, they all look the same to me. Still, for all of you amateur entomologists out there (those who study insects), there are actually five different moths living in Mason County, Kentucky. Yes, this post is about moths. In our effort to present things we find on the web, here are The Moths of Mason County Kentucky from the USGS:

Cecropia silkmoth -- (Hyalophora cecropia)
Tuliptree silkmoth -- (Callosamia angulifera)
Hummingbird clearwing -- (Hemaris thysbe)
Snowberry clearwing -- (Hemaris diffinis)
Bella Moth -- (Utetheisa ornatrix (includes U. bella))

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Art in the Garden Festival: Augusta Kentucky

Cafe Tables in Autumn - Ken Swinson

The annual Art In The Garden festival takes place today from 10 am to 5 pm along Riverside Drive in Augusta, Kentucky. The event brings together around 50 artists from the local area to the banks of the Ohio River to share their original art with the rest of us.

One of those artists is Ken Swinson, an artist from Augusta who settled here more than 10 years ago after falling in love with the local scenery. Swinson is an impressionist painter along the styles of Claude Monet and others who include visible brushstrokes, light colors, open composition, and an emphasis on light in its changing qualities. The Impressionist Movement became big during the 19th century.

Pictured above is Ken Swinson's original oil painting, Cafe Tables in Autumn. It's a part of his Beehive Tavern series. More of Swinson's art can be found at his web site He also maintains a blog with commentary about his artwork and the art industry.

Friday, June 02, 2006

New Exhibit at Rosemary Clooney House

During the Art in the Garden Festival in Augusta Kentucky this weekend (Saturday, June 3rd) visitors to the Rosemary Clooney House Museum will be able to see the two-piece red Victorian dress Rosemary wore when she co-starred with Bob Hope in Here Come the Girls, according to an article published recently in the Ledger Independent. The piece is on loan from a private collection and will make its premier at 11 am on Saturday. The Rosemary Clooney House will be open 10 am - 5 pm on Saturday for the festival.

We also found a nice article about the start of Rosemary Clooney's solo career in the blogs at (can't link to it because of not-so-family-friendly advertisements over there). It was posted by a blogger named "Jeff" (hopefully we're good on the credits).

From "Jeff" at

On an early spring day in 1949, a 21 year old girl singer stepped up to the microphone at the Columbia recording studios on New York's 30th Street, alone.

For the final time, she was recording with Tony Pastor and his Orchestra, under whose protection she had been since she began touring with them as a teenager recently out of high school. Her younger sister, Betty, was there wth her in the studio to record, the Clooney Sister's last official number as a team, and to lend moral support.

A few weeks earlier, Rosemary had decided to leave the band and strike out on her own and had turned in her notice. As a final act of generosity, Tony Pastor had arranged that the last recording of the day would be just for Rosemary - to be released under her own name, a means to launch her solo career.

Nervous about the recording, about moving to New York, about whether, in fact, she would have any future at all, Rosemary stood before the microphone as the orchestra, with a shout of brass and weary vamp, began to play 'Bargain Day', a rueful been-around-the-block song of the Billie Holiday kind.

And in the fresh alto with its familiar husky catch, the youngster from Maysville, Kentucky started her lament,

It's bargain day,
want to buy a heart?
It's bargain day,
mine is torn apart.
I'll sell it cheap
Or maybe I could trade it in
On a happier mart::

And that is how Rosie began her solo career!

Thanks Jeff!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The 4-Day, 400-Mile SWAG Fest

What do you get when you roll 60 communities together with hundreds of yard sales, food vendors, antique shops, and a stretch of 400 miles along US 68 and KY 80? Throw in hundreds of bargain hunters willing to make that trek, and you've got the 400-Mile Sale, a SWAG fest par excellence. Last year bargain hunters looking for SWAG (Stuff We All Get) came from as far away as California and even Canada to participate in the sale. Communities throughout the region took the opportunity to hold special events and, of course, yard sales!

This year's 4-day, 400-Mile Sale promises to be even better than past ones. In Old Washington vendors will be setting up in the lot across from the Visitors Center. Shops will be open earlier and close later during this four day event. Blue Licks State Park will host a spot for the 400 Mile Yard Sale and has planned programs and special activities throughout the entire weekend. Friday night the Lodge dining room will feature an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet featuring crab legs and peel-n-eat shrimp. The Mason County Homemakers will also have their annual Blacktop Sale at the Mason County Cooperative Extension Service Parking Lot (contact 606-564-6808 for info).

The 400-Mile sale will continue June 1st-4th. A full list of all of the special events for the entire 400-mile stretch can be found here. So fire up your RV and go get some SWAG!