Kentucky is one of the border states that lie between the North and
the South of the United States. Its long northern border is formed by the Ohio River, one of the
traditional boundaries between the Northern States and the Southern States. Kentucky also forms
a link between two of the great land features of the United States. Its eastern border touches the
Appalachian Mountains. About 350 miles (563 kilometers) to the west, Kentucky touches the Mississippi River.
Tobacco and champion race horses have long been symbols of Kentucky. Thoroughbred race horses still graze on the
lush grass of the region around Lexington, in central Kentucky. The region is known for the bluish
grass blossoms that give Kentucky the nickname the Bluegrass State. Each May, huge crowds
thrill to the excitement of the country's most famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby, held at Churchill
Downs in Louisville.
Kentucky is also an important
center of agriculture and mining. It leads the states in the production of burley tobacco, and it
ranks second only to North Carolina in total tobacco production. Kentucky is a leading coal-producing state. Coal is
mined in Kentucky's eastern Appalachian counties and in western Kentucky. In addition, the state is the leading U.S. producer
of bourbon whiskey.
Some of the nation's most popular
tourist attractions are in Kentucky. They include Cumberland Falls, Mammoth Cave, Natural Bridge,
and Land Between the Lakes. Most of the nation's gold reserves are stored in the depository at Fort Knox, which is
south of Louisville.
A group of colonists from Pennsylvania
established the first permanent white settlement in what is now Kentucky in 1774. Kentucky became
the 15th state of the Union in 1792. During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Kentucky stayed in the Union,
but thousands of Kentuckians joined the Confederate armies. Several Civil War battles took place in Kentucky. Abraham Lincoln
and Jefferson Davis, the opposing presidents in the Civil War, both were born in Kentucky, less than 100 miles (160 kilometers)
In 1900, an assassin's bullet
killed the governor of Kentucky, William Goebel, and Kentucky nearly had a civil war of its own.
A few years later, conflict did occur in parts of the state. From 1904 to 1909, Kentucky farmers fought a group of tobacco
firms in what became known as the Tobacco Wars.
its name from a Cherokee Indian word whose possible meanings include Land of Tomorrow and Meadowland.
It is one of four U.S. states officially called Commonwealths. The others are Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Kentucky was named a commonwealth to honor Virginia, which owned the region before Kentucky became a state.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT KENTUCKY
|The Mammoth-Flint Ridge cave system,
located entirely within Kentucky, is the longest known cave system in the world. The system is more
than 300 miles (483 kilometers) long. It includes the famous Mammoth Cave and is part of Mammoth
Cave National Park.|
|The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuously run horse race in the
United States. The first Derby was run in 1875 as part of the program for the opening of Churchill
Downs race track in Louisville. Now, each May, thousands of trackside spectators and millions of
television viewers watch the "run for the roses"—the blanket of roses presented to the winning
horse and jockey.|
|The gold depository at Fort Knox contains more than $6 billion
in gold bullion. The bullion, placed in the vaults of the depository by the U.S. Treasury Department,
represents nearly all of the gold owned by the U.S. government.|
|Kentucky tobacco growers
lead the world in the production of burley tobacco, a ranking they have held for more than 100 years.
Burley tobacco was first grown in Kentucky during the 1860's.|
|The world's first free-flowing
oil well was drilled near Burkesville, Ky., in 1829. Before that, people generally recovered
oil only when it seeped through the ground or accidentally gushed from salt wells. Oddly, the Burkesville oil was
never collected. It flowed unused into the nearby Cumberland River.|