Nelson County, KY FAQs
What is the history of Nelson County, KY and what are its notable landmarks?
Here’s an overview of its history of Nelson County, KY
- Early Settlement: Nelson County was established in 1784 and named after Thomas Nelson Jr., a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Shawnee and Cherokee.
- County Formation: Nelson County was formed from Jefferson County. Its county seat is Bardstown, a city that was settled in 1780 and served as the first capital of Kentucky.
- Whiskey Distilling: Nelson County played a significant role in the early development of the bourbon whiskey industry. The county’s abundant supply of limestone water and fertile soil made it an ideal location for distilleries. Bardstown is often referred to as the “Bourbon Capital of the World” due to its historical connection to the bourbon industry.
- Historic Events: Nelson County witnessed important events during the Civil War. During the conflict, Bardstown was occupied by both Union and Confederate forces at different times, and several skirmishes occurred in the surrounding area.
Notable Landmarks in Nelson County, KY
- My Old Kentucky Home State Park: Located in Bardstown, My Old Kentucky Home State Park is centered around Federal Hill, a mansion that inspired Stephen Foster’s famous song “My Old Kentucky Home.” The park offers guided tours of the mansion, picnic areas, and a campground.
- Wickland: Wickland, also known as the “Home of Three Governors,” is a historic Greek Revival mansion in Bardstown. It was the residence of three Kentucky governors: Charles Anderson, John L. Helm, and J. Proctor Knott. The mansion is open for tours and hosts various events and exhibitions.
- Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral: The Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral, located in Bardstown, is a significant religious landmark. It is the first Roman Catholic cathedral west of the Allegheny Mountains and serves as a symbol of Bardstown’s historical and cultural heritage.
- Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History: Situated in Bardstown, the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History showcases the history and artistry of American whiskey. It features exhibits on the bourbon industry, displays of historic bottles and artifacts, and offers tastings.
- Heaven Hill Distillery: Heaven Hill Distillery, one of the largest independent family-owned distilleries in the United States, is located in Nelson County. Visitors can take distillery tours, learn about the bourbon-making process, and sample different types of whiskey.
What are the recreational activities available in Nelson County, KY?
Here are some popular options:
- Bourbon Distillery Tours: Nelson County is known as the “Bourbon Capital of the World” due to its historical connection to the bourbon whiskey industry. Visitors can take distillery tours at various bourbon distilleries in the area, including Heaven Hill Distillery, Maker’s Mark Distillery, Jim Beam American Stillhouse, and Barton 1792 Distillery. These tours provide insights into the bourbon-making process and the rich heritage of Kentucky bourbon.
- Wine Tours and Tastings: In addition to bourbon, Nelson County is home to several wineries and vineyards. Visitors can embark on wine tours and tastings, experiencing the local wine production and enjoying the picturesque vineyard landscapes. Wineries like Talon Winery & Vineyards and Forest Edge Winery offer tastings and often have events and festivals.
- Outdoor Exploration: Nelson County boasts beautiful natural landscapes, including rolling hills, forests, and waterways. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the area through activities such as hiking, biking, and fishing. Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, located nearby, offers miles of trails, a canopy walk, and beautiful nature vistas.
- Golf: Golf enthusiasts can enjoy playing at local golf courses in Nelson County. Courses like My Old Kentucky Home Golf Course in Bardstown offer challenging fairways and scenic surroundings for a relaxing day on the greens.
- Historic Tours: Nelson County has a rich historical heritage, and visitors can take historic tours to learn about the area’s past. Bardstown, the county seat, offers walking tours and guided tours of historic sites like My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Wickland, and the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. These tours provide insights into the county’s history, architecture, and cultural significance.
- Festivals and Events: Nelson County hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, showcasing its local culture and traditions. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival, held annually in Bardstown, celebrates the region’s bourbon heritage with tastings, live music, cooking demonstrations, and more. The Bardstown Craft Beer Festival and Bardstown Bluegrass Festival are also popular events that draw visitors from near and far.
- Shopping and Dining: Nelson County offers a variety of shopping and dining experiences. Visitors can explore the charming downtown area of Bardstown, browse boutiques and antique shops, and savor delicious meals at local restaurants, including those that feature regional cuisine and bourbon-inspired dishes.