Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Fake Fort Boonesboro

Coming into Boonesboro off I-75, you'll see several signs directing you towards Fort Boonesboro, leading you down into a valley off the right-hand side of the road where a huge and majestic fort awaits you impressively. Problem is, it's not Fort Boonesboro.

It's a somewhat fanciful "replica" of the original Fort, which no longer exists. This Fort is a strangely clean and pristine shaker-like community with many buildings containing profoundly unhappy-looking people in period clothing, giving capsule dissertations on soap making, whittling, wooden toy making, and other rustic stuff.

Historical accuracy here is, well, shaky. The setting looks and feels about as authentic as, say, the final season of Little House on the Prairie than the rugged primitive shelter the real Fort was. Everyone is clean and dapper in their machine-stitched polyester colonial duds. The plaque at the Fort's massive gates tries to give the impression that this is the actual original Fort, and only uses the word "replica" deep in the text.

The real Fort Boonesboro is depicted as being much smaller in size in this old idealized drawing - see below - which is in itself is believed by many historians to be already highly exaggerated.

Even the towering stone monument out front in the parking lot, which at a glance seems to be a tribute to the Fort settlers, is actually a self-congratulatory tribute to the people who built this Disneyesque simulacra, with a complete list of all their names. I'm not making this up.

As we were taking these pictures, a family from North Carolina rolled up and eagerly headed to the Fort, marveling at Daniel Boone's amazing handiwork. Far be it from me to pop their bubble. As a tourist attraction, I suppose one could do worse, but I'd like to see a lot more done with this Fort-replica concept to guarantee more repeat visitors to our state, and less disenchantment and disappointment.

Incidentally, the fake-Fort people tend to spell it "Boonesborough", which is kind of ironic, adding "ugh" to Boonesboro. We here at Unusual Kentucky prefer the more elegant shorter spelling.

1 comment:

Ed said...

Is Dr. Thomas Walker State Park in Barbourville real or fake?