The Eye of the Rich Land

The Eye of the Rich Land (HM1F4R)

Location: Winchester, KY 40391 Clark County
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 53.398', W 84° 15.603'

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Kentucky Primeval

Huge herds of bison graze in immense meadows beneath an open canopy of oak, ash, cherry, hickory, and sugar maple. Many of the trees are four feet or more in diameter. Elk and deer are abundant. Impenetrable canebreaks cover miles. Dense, closed forests blanket the steep creek and river valleys. Turkeys roost in flocks of hundreds. Brightly colored Carolina parakeets flit overhead. Flocks of passenger pigeons, over two billion birds strong, darken the skies as they pass. Bear, wolves, and panthers roam the deep forests. This was the Kentucky Bluegrass in 1750.

For thousands of years the prehistoric residents of Kentucky lived with the land, taking what they needed but no more. European hunters and settlers were much different. Early diaries and letters attest to the fact that the pioneers were impressed by the natural wealth of Kentucky. Colonel Richard Henderson was one day's journey from the site of his Transylvania Settlement, soon to be named Boonesborough, when he wrote "Camp'd that night in the eye of the rich land" in April 1775. Others called the Bluegrass a "second paradise," and a "promised land." But the natural riches were seen as the means to an end, not as a valuable resource. Native plants and animals were treated carelessly and sometimes with contempt.

A Legacy of Waste

Hunters killed many thousands of bison, elk, deer, and bear, sometimes taking only the hide. Later, settlers killed bison in huge numbers. Animals were also killed for sport. Bison were left where they fell. One man could, and often did, kill off an entire flock of roosting turkeys. Game was so abundant as to be seen as everlasting, but by 1800, bison were almost gone and elk were rare.

Settlers cleared the native cane and grasses, even though they provided excellent food for cattle, replacing them with sown timothy and bluegrass. European white clover replaced native clover. Maple trees were carelessly tapped for sap to make maple sugar and died in a few years. Trees were commercially clear-cut from the riverbanks and cliff sides.

In less than 75 years, one person's lifetime, the Bluegrass had changed forever.

HM NumberHM1F4R
Placed ByThe Winchester/Clark County Tourism Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 8th, 2014 at 10:35pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 740942 N 4197146
Decimal Degrees37.88996667, -84.26005000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 53.398', W 84° 15.603'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 53' 23.88" N, 84° 15' 36.18" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)859
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 790-1588 State Hwy 1924, Winchester KY 40391, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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