Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dogpatch Trading Post

Those who were appalled by my soapboaxing on the Li'l Abner Motel entry, rejoice: I'll be brief on this one. It's simply another cherished (by me) example of those good ol' days when the hillbilly meme ruled the world.

Since 1950, this wacky barn in London, KY has been home to the most god-awful gag gifts and hillbilly tourist tack imaginable, bless its pea-pickin' heart. Named after the locale in which the hillbilly comic strip Li'l Abner is set, the Dog Patch Trading Post is still the #1 purveyor of Americana-flavored delightful crap such as coal sculptures, ersatz Native American "dream catchers", Elvis posters, Confederate Flags, weird shot glasses, faux-rustic furniture, and a parking lot full of bizarre concrete lawn ornaments for sale (which in itself is worth the drive). There are lots of interesting Outsider-Art wood sculptures and totem poles. You can also have your picture taken with your head protruding from a hilariously crude painted hillbilly body.

We love the Dogpatch Trading Post. You will too. You'll come for the John Deere lunchboxes, you'll stay for the country ham.

Or, you can visit them on the web at

Li'l Abner Motel

There are basically two types of Kentuckians.

(Don't you love it when someone starts a speech that way?)

There are those who embrace their hillbilly heritage and then there are those who would seek to ignore it, or worse, conceal it.

It should come as no surprise to the dedicated reader that I am of the former group, the True Group, the unrepentant hillbillies, the rightful heirs to the soil of Transylvania.

At one time, the hillbilly stereotype was a common fixture across the tourist traps of the South, as shrewd hucksters were "puttin' on the hick" to razzle-dazzle the know-nothing Northerners who came to gawk and learn the arcane mystic arts of miniature golf.

Nowadays, those places are a dying breed, what with the politically correct mindset reinforced by too much internet, too many cable channels, and too much toxic Nutrasweet and Splenda in the diet sodas.

That's why it pleases me to no end to find that references to Al Capp's gloriously Southern comic strip Li'l Abner can still be found in Kentucky. It's one of the funny ironies of life that Capp wasn't even a hillbilly himself. He spent his entire life in Boston, New York, and Connecticut and got his knowledge of hillbilly lore thirdhand. And yet, his viewpoint was right-on (at least until the late 60s, when he abruptly turned politically ultra-conservative - slightly to the right of Attila the Hun - even as his infamous lecherous nature become even more out of control.)

Anyway, in summary: boring normal people want to keep the hillbilly meme down. The existence of places like the Li'l Abner Motel help keep it alive. Therefore, it is good. Next time you're looking for lodging in the Red River Gorge area, give them your business and tell them I sent you by.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Stanford Drive-In

Unfortunately, America's Drive-in Theaters have been on the wane for years now, to the point where just finding one that still exists warrants inclusion in our collection of unusualities. The Stanford Drive-In and Flea Market in Lincoln County won't disappoint any seeker of true Americana, merging together two of the cultural concepts that made our country great. And unlike many a low-budget Drive-in struggling to just carry any schlock they can get their hands on, the Stanford Drive-in actually still carries first-run movies. (As of this writing, "Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull" is playing.)

"Ashland" sign in Lexington

"Unnecessary" "use" of "quotation marks" are "usually" a sure "sign" of a real "moron". But this is one case where it can be forgiven, I suppose: the reason for the quotes here is that they had to be added later due to other morons seeing this sign and thinking they'd made a wrong turn at Albuquerque and wound up in Ashland, KY.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Pigs of Ole Hickory Pit

To our menagerie of bulls and bugs and fish comes this honkin' huge pink pig on the rooftop of the Ole Hickory Pit Barbecue House, 6106 Shepherdsville Road, Louisville.

Bonus pig: this smaller model is out in front of the place, sporting exposed-rebar ears.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Belle Brezing's Cult Following

There are a lot more regular visitors than you might expect at the grave of prostitute Belle Brezing, located in Fayette County's Calvary Cemetery (and with a marker that unfortunately misspells her name "Breezing"). It would seem Ms. Brezing's celebrity and legend still carry on into the present day, as her grave is consistently visited by a variety of colorful and interesting people.

Trinkets, coins, handwritten notes, and other offerings are frequently left at her grave in tribute, much in the same way that admirers of the great Voodoo queen Marie Laveau do at her final resting place in New Orleans. Also in a similar vein, people make pilgrimmage to Brezing's grave for good luck, via touching the tombstone, or kneeling in silent communion with Belle's spirit.

Page 96 of Weird Kentucky has more info on the mysterious and glamorous Belle Brezing, who inspired the character of Belle Watling in "Gone With the Wind".

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Death of Thomas Mantell

January 7, 1948.

1:15pm : Officials at Godman Air Force Base outside Louisville, KY receive a call from Kentucky State Police regarding UFO sightings in Maysville.

1:35pm : KSP calls Godman Air Force Base again. The UFO has been seen in Owensboro and Irvinton.

1:45pm : The UFO is seen approaching the base. Control tower ascertains that the object is not a weather balloon or a plane. It is described as
gray, metallic, conical, and rotating.

2:30pm : A team of four F-51 fighters planes approach the base. The tower called the flight leader, Captain Thomas Mantell, briefed him of the situation, and asked him to investigate. One F-51 in the flight was running low on fuel and continued on his course while Mantell took his other two planes and went after the UFO. Mantell sights the UFO above him and follows it to 20,000 feet while his men drop back at 15,000. Mantell is nowhere to be seen and doesn't answer the radio.

3:50pm : The control tower loses sight of the UFO.

7:20pm :
UFO sightings suddenly occur across the midwest.

3:00am : Captain James F. Duesler is summoned to investigate Mantell's crash site.

Mantell's plane crashed 130 miles away and appears to have belly flopped straight down, which is totally inconsistent with a plane crash of this type. There should have damage to surrounding woods from an angular trajectory, and the nose-heavy weight of the plane should have brought it down nose-first . Although the wings and tail had broken off, the fuselage sustained little damage, and no blood was evident in the cockpit. Mantell's body had already been taken away, but Duesler was allegedly informed by others at the scene that "nowhere on the body had the skin been punctured or penetrated, yet all the bones had been crushed and pulverized."

The Air Force maintained that Mantell must have been chasing Venus and ran out of Oxygen. After it was pointed that Venus was nowhere near that position in the sky at the time, they changed their story and insisted it was a balloon that Mantell was chasing.

Mantell's body was laid to rest in Louisville's Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Flint Road Ghost, Waco

In the late 1970s, I lived on this farm in the rural community of Waco, on Flint Road.

At that time, there had been a fence separating the front area of the farm from the second part, which was essentially a huge field. I often leaned on the gate and stared out across the field towards the woods in the distance, lost in thought.

On a brightly moonlit evening I was staring out at the field when I saw a male figure dressed in shabby coat and hat ambling across the adjacent Botner Farm to the right. He then climbed the fence and began traipsing across our property. This was no big deal, as there were always assorted bums and yokels taking shortcuts across our property. I watched him get to almost exactly the halfway point across the field, then I glanced away for just a mere second.

And he was gone.

I stood there for what seemed like an eternity, staring at the empty field. Freshly cut with no tall weeds to hide in. No holes or ditches he could be laying in. Just a plain empty field that had a man on it one second, then nothing the next.

This, more than anything else in my life, proved to me that things are not always what they seem, and that paranormal things do occur.

The picture above shows the fence at the point the man climbed over it from Botner's property. This was taken from the farmhouse side where I was originally observed him while facing the woods. The picture below was taken facing the other direction, looking back towards the house, and showing the exact spot where the ghostly figure vanished.

Mural at Richmond's A&W Root Beer

On the Eastern By-Pass in Richmond, the A&W root beer stand has a series of murals painted on the side that have a seriously queasy, thick, rubbery, pulpy quality to them, and none more so than the strawberry shake.

No matter how many times we look at it, it looks more to us like some sort of illustration from a 1960's medical text on ovarian surgery.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Barbecue Grill Cemetery

Memorial Day weekend is all about grilling out, and paying respect to the dead. Now here's a place where you can do both at the same time.

This Lexington cemetery is located off Rose Lane at Aylesford Place, behind student-housing apartment buildings. At least some developer took some care to avoid bulldozing the stones when the housing project was built (The Lost maxwell Cemetery comes to mind). However, the headstones are facing the parking-lot pavement - which means the bodies have probably been paved over.

The barbecue grill right behind their graves adds an extra indignity. I wonder how many college students over the years have sat there with lawn chairs grilling burgers, and then suddenly noticed they're in a cemetery?

Photos by Tim Stamps.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Henry's Ark

Henry's Ark, a.k.a. Moncada Farm, is a peculiar little farm with a petting zoo featuring over a hundred animals. There's the usual suspects such as goats, sheep, cattle, swans, ducks, geese and others -- but also extremely exotic selections such as bison, water buffalo, camels, emus, zebras, yak, elk, alpaca, porcupines, capybara, etc. There's a beautiful albino peacock as well.

The project was the dream of the late Henry Wallace, a former correspondent for Time magazine and several other news publications. During Henry's time, the zoo never charged admission and still doesn't. He told the New York Times in 1996:

"Very few people are going to open a place like this and not charge anything for it. It makes no sense. I do it anyway."

Wallace was a civil rights crusader in the 1960s but also supported Fidel Castro, which made him a tad too liberal for many of his neighbors. Henry received many pieces of hate mail in his day, one of which was an actual mailbomb. Nowadays things are much more quiet and peaceful around the farm, however, and it's more popular than ever for those in the know. Although there's no admission, there are several donation collection containers and you are strongly encouraged (by me, I mean) to put some cash in.

Henry's Ark is located at 7801 Rose Island Road in Prospect, KY.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Weird Kentucky Laws: Bathing Suits and Highways

For many years, there was a Kentucky law (Kentucky Revised Statute 436.140) that stated:

"No female shall appear in a bathing suit on any highway within this state unless she be escorted by at least two officers or unless she be armed with a club."

Later on, however, this absurd law was amended thusly:

"The provisions of this statute shall not apply to females weighing less than 90 pounds nor exceeding 200 pounds, nor shall it apply to female horses."

Well, I'm sure that much-needed clarification made everyone breathe a sigh of relief.

Although many stupid laws remain on the books to this day, this one finally got weeded out on January 1, 1975.

To illustrate this entry, I was going to get one of my models to pose in the road in a Wicked Weasel, but I didn't have time. So instead you get this old photo of the infamous "Red Bikini Woman" statue in Peoria, Illinois.

(Sadly, she's no longer in a bikini now and has since been dressed in a red sweater and blue skirt.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

U.S. 25

Kentucky's own "Route 66" of paranormal weirdness is Highway 25, running straight down the center of the state. An inordinate amount of our pieces here take place very near U.S. 25, making it an ideal roadtripping destination for those of you visiting from elsewhere.

Highway 25 begins at the KY/OH border, and from there it winds its way south, spending the next couple hours running alongside I-75. In Corbin U.S 25 splits into two, one going East (25 East), one going South (though for some reason they call it 25 West). Both 25E and 25W have their points of interest, but it's 25E that has that good ol' U.S. 25 feeling all the way to the Tennessee border.

And if it's an East-West drive you had in mind, U.S. 25 delivers you directly to access points to the Blue Grass Parkway (which will get you to Hopkinsville and Mammoth Cave), the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway (which will get you to Red River Gorge), and the Daniel Boone Parkway (which will get you to the Hazard area).

Bowman Cemetery

This is a very neglected cemetery, with many of its gravestones displaced or grown over. Several stones are leaning against this tree, and its unclear where they're really supposed to have been situated. Many other stones are seemingly lost.

That's a shame, because Bowman Cemetery in Calloway County is the final resting place of the great Nathan Stubblefield, the Kentucky farmer who invented radio years before Tesla, and years before Marconi stole Tesla's ideas.

See more about Nathan on page 100 of Weird Kentucky.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tombstone Junction

Tombstone Junction was a Wild West themed amusement park featuring an actual internal railroad system of its own (not one of those miniature choo-choo rail cars like you see in some zoos). Tombstone Junction was located outside of Corbin, KY and entertained countless happy tourists until it burned down in not one, but two fires: one in 1989, the last in 1991.

Today little is left of Tombstone Junction, but it lives on the memories of those who saw it in its glory days. Tombstone Junction still commands an enthusiastic following to this day, judging by the volume of e-mails I've received about it over the years.

According to Karl Lusk, retired Executive Director of the Kentucky Railway Museum, the trains actually survived the fire, were auctioned off, and are still out in circulation, albeit in piecemeal fashion:

"I was at that sale, working for Ford Bros. auctioneers, Somerset, as rail equipment consultant and auctioneer. The two small steam locos were purchased by John Caperton, a rail enthusiast from Louisville. The larger loco was purchased on behalf of the Big South Fork Scenic Railway at Stearns, where it is currently undergoing restoration to operating condition. The cars, in bad repair, were, I believe scrapped, and the shop equipment, parts, etc. sold to a number of buyers, including the KY Railway Museum, Tennessee Valley Railway Museum, Diversified Rail Services, etc."

We've received many photos of Tombstone Junction that had lain dormant in the old vacation photo albums of several families, and will show some of them here soon. We always want to see more, though, so if you have Tombstone Junction photos, feel free to scan them and send them!

For more information, turn to page 160 in your copy of Weird Kentucky.

Birdhouse Mailbox

There are actually birds living in this delightful birdhouse/mailbox duplex, spotted in Lancaster, KY.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Glyndon Hotel

Believe it or don't, not everyone likes being spotlighted by the Unusual Kentucky staff. Some people feel it's insulting, or beneath their dignity to be thought of as "weird" or unusual or interesting or potentially haunted or just plain cool. That's always puzzled me, because my purpose here is glorify, to exalt, to elevate, to honor, and to celebrate what's left of our fair state that hasn't been homogenized into this post-post-modern hell our society currently finds itself mired in.

Take, for instance, the guy who has a certain ice cream parlor in St.Matthews who came running out, furiously angry because I was taking a picture of the giant fiberglass ice cream cone on his sign.

"Is this for any sort of commercial purposes?" he asked haughtily.

"Not really", I replied, "I'm a photographer, and I'm working on a book..."

Before I could say more, he said, "That's a commercial purpose. Don't take any more pictures of my ice cream cone, please."

And yet, I would have been willing to do a whole-page spread about his business and his cone in the Weird Kentucky book. Free advertising. Great publicity. And he ran me off (I was also a regular customer). Now that's truly weird.

Then there was a run-down motor inn with a beautiful old star-shaped 1940's neon sign, and the woman who came scrambling out to inform me that the type of people who stayed at her motel valued their privacy and didn't want people with cameras skulking around. Never mind that I was only pointing the camera straight up at the sign, and never mind that she basically openly admitted her establishment was a "no-tell motel". Never mind that I was on a public sidewalk, and in theory can take a photo of whatever I damn well please.

And then there was the time that a certain writer sent me angry, cursing, obscene e-mails for referring to a certain Kentucky locale as "a sleepy little town". "You big city people come to Kentucky just to laugh at us hicks", he ranted. Apparently he didn't realize that not only am I from Kentucky, I still live in Kentucky and I am a "hick" myself, having grown up a hog-sloppin' farmboy proudly from Madison County's Waco, one of the sleepiest of all sleepy little towns in Kentucky. I would never mean to offend anyone by my coverage here, but on the other hand, I am not one to sit and agonize about political correctness and word-parsing to avoid the off chance that someone, somewhere, might potentially be offended for some abstract personal reasons.

Which brings us to the Glyndon Hotel.

I'm not saying anything about it. I'm just telling you that it exists. And that I love it. It's in Richmond. Go there and check it out for yourself.

That is all.

"Modern", eh?

A picture says a thousand words, doesn't it?

Top: Mt.Vernon. Bottom: Georgetown.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Disputanta Post Office

Disputanta, KY is a spooky little place in the mountains of Rockcastle County. Aside from its rural residents, there isn't much left here except a church, a graveyard or two, and this lovely old abandoned post office.

There is an old legend that Satan comes to visit Disputanta every Autumn, and novelist Johnny Payne used this legend as the basis for his play "The Devil In Disputanta".

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Frankfort Avenue Art House

Take a look at this amazingly decorated home on Frankfort Avenue near Butchertown in Louisville. We are unable to drive past it without slowing down for a long gaze at it, even if it means missing the green light. Like a Hieronymus Bosch painting, we see something different in it every time we study it.

More images and information about this wonderful building can be found in the Weird Kentucky book.

You can sort-of see all the stuff peppered all over the property on Google Maps.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Raelian Movement in Kentucky

In 1973 a French racing-car journalist named Claude Vorilhon (who now calls himself "Rael") began having a series of visitations from extraterrestrial entities called the Elohim. According to Rael's bizarre writings, these beings reportedly wore swastikas and explained that the original, pre-Nazi meaning of the symbol is that "all is cyclic in infinite time" (and in fact, the swastika is an ancient symbol that predates the Third Reich’s twentieth-century appropriation of it).

Rael claims that the Elohim told him they created all life on earth thru a process very similar to cloning; he was given instructions to build a "space embassy" on Earth for the purpose of spiritually preparing mankind for the Elohim’s grand return, and to found a so-called "atheistic religion".

Eventually this became the International Raelian movement, headquartered in Las Vegas. Kentucky has a chapter as well - I've met with Carla Watson, the local contact person for the Kentucky Raelians, and found her enthusiasm for Raelism to be sincere and evident.

Try though I may to remain open-minded about this group, though, I can't get behind things like this and this and this.

Capt. Jones of Texas

Captain Jones.

No first name known? No birth date known?

Shot to death.

By whom? And under what circumstances? The Civil War, we presume?

I remember taking this photo three or four years ago but for the life of me, I can't recall what cemetery this was in. Frankfort? Cave Hill? If anyone knows - and also knows what the backstory about this man is - please let me know.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Murderers Ate Here

  • Ruby's Restaurant - In May 2007, O.J. Simpson was in town for the Kentucky Derby, and he and his entourage filed in to Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse, one of the state's most prestigious and upscale restaurants. As the anecdote is told, someone - either an employee or a customer - came up to Ruby all dazzled and star-struck by Simpson's presence. After just a moment of distaste and reflection, Ruby walked over to O.J.'s table and informed his party that they would have to leave immediately, as a show of solidarity with the Goldman and Brown families.

    O.J. and his crew quietly gathered their coats and left without a fuss, and the dining room burst into applause for Ruby. Afterwards, there was some venting in the press by O.J.'s attorneys, but this soon died down as cooler heads prevailed and realized this was already enough of a bad PR situation as it was.

    Ruby's restaurant is very highly recommended, incidentally, and its wild and lavish decor is worth checking out: the chandelier is from the famous and now-destroyed Cadillac Square Building, and its elevator facade came from the historic Chrysler Building.

  • Kim's Coffee - Although this cafe, a longtime Louisville tradition, no longer exists, it once stood at 1704 Rowan Street and once was the site of a Ted Bundy sighting. In 1977, serial killer Bundy was zigzagging around the nation after having escaped from jail in Aspen, Colorado, and found his way to Louisville for awhile. At least long enough for a cup of coffee and a danish.

    Officially there has been no connection made between Bundy and any murders in the area during that time, although some have raised suspicions.

    An apartment building stands at the spot today.

  • Waco Food Mart BP - In its glory days of yesteryear, the small spooky community of Waco was once home to a number of thriving mom-n-pop grocery stores and markets, but this large food mart/gas station is the last one standing.

    Serial killer Glen Rogers reportedly ate, snacked and gassed up here whenever he was in the area and visiting relatives. He possibly also purchased here the can of beer that he hurled in desperation at the arresting detective when he realized the jig was up. Rogers' family owned property near Beattyville, KY and he often traveled on KY 52, passing through Richmond, Waco, Irvine and Ravenna, and frequenting several other restaurants along the way. (One of Rogers' victims ended up found dead in that Beattyville cabin, incidentally.)

    Rogers' nationwide murder spree left a trail of victims from Hamilton, OH across the country to Los Angeles, and ended in Richmond, KY in November 1995 when a relative tipped off the Madison County police that he had just left her home. Currently Rogers is on Death Row in Raiford, FL.
  • Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Weird Kentucky book signings!

    I, Jeffrey Scott Holland, your humble host of Kentucky kookiness, will be making book-signing appearances at:

  • June 12 - Barnes & Noble at The Summit, Louisville, KY. 7:00pm.
  • June 28 - A Reader's Corner, Louisville, KY. 1:00pm.
  • July 12 - Morris Book Store grand opening, Lexington, KY. TBA.

  • But if you're impatient and just can't wait till these events to obtain the book, the obsessive-compulsive folks over at Telecrylic International have compiled a price-comparison chart for online sources of Weird Kentucky. You just might be surprised at their findings; I certainly was.

    The Wig Wam

    The Wig Wam Restaurant has been an Estill County mainstay since as long as I can remember.

    Though currently beige, it used to be Forest Green for most of my childhood, and apparently was a more garish assortment of colors way back in the day. Reportedly the building had more accoutrements back then to make it look more teepee-like too. Anyway, it's one of Kentucky's lesser-known examples of classic old-school mimetic architecture, and the burgers are dee-lish. Check it out next time you're in sunny downtown Ravenna.

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    Clown Pest Control!

    This is a very old entry from our very first incarnation of the Unusual Kentucky site in 2002. These wonderful signs no longer exist, alas, but we'll always have the photos and the memories...

    On Big Hill Avenue in Richmond, the was a large wooden sign in the yard of someone's home that advertises for a termite and pest control company. The fact this sign is in the front yard of a residence is kinda odd anyway. But when you take a look at the other side, there's a picture of a frightening clown! And the same phone number as the reverse side. So, um, were these people running a termite business AND a clown business? Did the clown use a bug-spray fumigator instead of a seltzer bottle?

    But wait, there's more.... several blocks away down the street, at the corner of Big Hill and Main Street, there was another sign with the same clown and the same phone number in someone else's front yard! (We never did trespass and go up into their yard to see if the other side of the sign had the pest control logo on it, but we certainly were curious.)

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    Dairy Queen Monster Feet

    This pair of tridactyl feet made of cement fascinated me for years and has been the subject of much speculation, much like the mystery four-toed stone foot on ABC's Lost. Whatever this statue was, it once stood in front of the Dairy Queen in Versailles, KY. Now even the base with the feet are gone, leaving only this photo and many unanswered questions, not the least of which is, who was this Elmer?

    Masonic Neon Signs

    Some of my friends and I have always been fixated on the idea of secret societies having neon signs.

    Above: Frankfort. Below: Stanford.

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    UFO over Clays Ferry, 2005

    A report filed with NUFORC:

    Occurred : 4/25/2005 20:00 (Entered as : 04/25/1905 20:00)
    Reported: 4/26/2005 12:52:21 PM 12:52
    Posted: 5/11/2005
    Location: Lexington, KY
    Shape: Disk
    Duration:20 minutes

    Disk-shaped object hovering up in the sky and traveling slowly for about 20 minutes with a brief flash of light coming out of it.

    "I was traveling down I-75 last night coming back to Lexington, Kentucky from Richmond, Kentucky where I attend graduate school classes.

    It was directly in my line of sight right before the curve towards the Clays Ferry Exit. The sky had a few clouds but it was mostly clear. I saw it straight ahead and I saw a flash of light come from the other side and traveled halfway around the object and stopped. It did not flash all the way around the object. It only flashed once. It was a disk- shaped object that was a dark color like a dark grey or brown, not quite black.

    The interstate wound around and the object was no longer in front of me but it was traveling along to my right. I was straining my eyes to see legs to a water tower, or helicoptor propellers, or wings to an airplane, but there was none of that. It was not a water tower because for one thing, I found out that it was moving and there was nothing sticking out of the object like wings or propellers. It was definitely going too slow to be an airplane.

    The only other thing I could think of would be a blimp of some kind but it didn't have any kind of writing or basket and I don't know if those have lights. Also, it was 8:00pm on a Monday night and no events going on that would require a blimp that I know of and it simply did not look like a blimp. However, I am trying to justify this because it goes against everything I believe in or ever thought possible.

    This thing was traveling in my line of sight for about 20 minutes. When i got off on the Man-o-War exit I turned the wrong way so that i could follow it and take a clear picture with my camera phone. By the time I could stop it was too far away to see it in the picture. My camera phone is not very clear at all, anyway. It just kept traveling away from me and I gave up and turned back around and went home.

    I am just a Nutrition grad school student and I do not have any expertise in the aircraft area. All I know is what I saw. Can someone please tell me what this thing might have been? I need some peace of mind."

    Dixie Highway

    The stretch of Highway 31W, or “Dixie Highway,” that takes one out of Jefferson County has long fascinated me. It may not exactly be a “road less traveled” - in fact, the traffic can often be quite annoying - but it’s a road that many seek to avoid. It should come as no surprise to the reader, then, that’s it’s a road I enjoy greatly, for the very same reasons that others shun it.

    Dixie Highway, to many people’s sense of aesthetics and decorum, is ugly. Dirty. Tacky. Businesses abound that still have that beautiful classic 1940s-1960s architecture and signage, which I’ll take any day over the dreary modern homogenized look. One of my favorite places here is Pepper Tackle, a fishing supply store whose sign features a gargantuan fiberglass fish. City officials, who wouldn’t know cultural beauty if it bit the psoriasis off their elbows, have made attempts to have the sign removed over various contrived technicalities. So far the enemy’s efforts have been unsuccessful. The price of eternal awesomeness is eternal vigilance.

    Then there’s the plethora of porno stores and adult theaters, which lend a pleasantly gaudy bright pink je ne sais quoi to the area, as do the charming characters seen furtively shuffling and stumbling in and out of them. It’s no Bourbon Street, but the scene nevertheless conjures up a powerful sense of noble lowlife resonance with the denizens of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s "Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny".

    The porno houses seem to drastically proliferate the closer one gets to Fort Knox. A coincidence, no doubt.

    And then there’s Rubbertown, where all sorts of pleasant substances are manufactured, and many more are sloughed off. You’ll know it when you come upon it - look for the giant belching smokestacks. You can’t miss it. You also might smell some funny smells while passing through this area, but don’t worry, they wouldn’t be allowed to send toxic chemicals into the air, right? Responsible and far-sighted men in local and federal government have entire careers devoted to keep that from happening, right?

    There’s an environmental activist group in Jefferson County called REACT, which stands for Rubbertown Emergency Action, who describe themselves as a “campaign to stop toxic air pollution coming from ten chemical plants located in the Rubbertown area of Louisville,” and go on to say: “Air monitors located in neighborhoods surrounding the chemical plants revealed that residents have been breathing in at least 18 toxic chemicals at levels sometimes as high as 540 times the health threshold established by the EPA.” The 18 toxic chemicals detected by the air monitors, chemicals such as 1,3-butadiene and vinyl chloride, can cause cancer, cardiovascular disease and central nervous system damage. REACT is a campaign of Rubbertown residents who have finally said, “Enough! We're not taking it anymore”, and are taking action to end Rubbertown's 'killer air.'

    The history of Dixie Highway is as convoluted as its terrain. As I understand it, in 1914 it was decided to create a series of highways and roads that were generally regarded to be one unified highway, even though this included side roads, connecting roads, and multiple branches. Today Dixie Highway’s meandering paths have been renamed piecemeal, dependent on location, and now make up portions of other highways, such as U.S. 25. Most Kentuckians no longer refer to these roads as “Dixie Highway,” but the stretch of Highway 31W that we are discussing here is still referred to by that name by its locals.

    Sunday, May 11, 2008

    Standing Stones in Jeffersontown

    Once upon a time, the area that's now the city of Jeffersontown, KY was teeming with wildlife, especially bears, deer, wildcats, and buffalo. Some of the existing paved roads today began as ancient traditional trails and pathways blazed by buffalo as they stomped the same path year after year to the salt licks. These pathways were
    etched into the wilderness by the buffalo long before humans set foot on this soil.

    Over the years, there have been persistent rumors about an American Indian civilization, or several civilizations, that once erected standing stones in Jeffersontown, KY. Some versions of the myth describe them Stonehenge-style, while other reports describe them carved as totems, to resemble animals and strange beasts, possibly to commemorate these same critters that ruled this region and created the first corridors through these woods.

    Both types of Indian-related stonework are common in Kentucky and its surrounding "dark and bloody ground" area. Although there's little traces today of these civilizations and their standing stones, we do have some possible glimpses into the past.

    Following the roads towards Jeffersontown's Northeastern edge, we were intrigued by the large interestingly shaped rocks that dot the landscape. Much of this land today is occupied by an industrial park, but its tenants are spaced far apart and plenty of open green areas remain.
    Many of the stones appear to have been moved into their current position as roadside decoration, but others are off the beaten path and some are now almost entirely buried with only a small bit protruding. It would appear that the stones were originally here when the industrial park was built, and then some of the stones were simply made use of as decoration.

    A few visits to local businessmen in the area seem to confirm this: we couldn't find anyone who knew for sure about the prehistory of the giant rocks in their factory's front yard, but many could say with some degree of certainty that the rocks were not shipped in for decoration but pre-existed on the property when the buildings were

    The stones themselves certainly lend themselves to the myth of the Jeffersontown indian totems - many have a strikingly obvious resemblance to animals - especially turtles and bears, which would in fact be two of the key animals one would likely expect to be represented. These more exciting examples tend to be ones that have been moved out into the front yards for display, but the nearby area is pockmarked with plenty more that are hidden, and are probably still in their original locations.
    Unfortunately, there's no really dependable way to know for sure. After all, there's no point in carbon dating a rock. Erosion from weather and creeks can make many a rock look zoomorphic with the passage of enough time and water. In fact, some say the Native Americans would actually seek out such large stones peculiarly shaped by water flow, either using them as is or using them as the starting point for their own additional sculpting. The presence of Amerind markings and petroglyphs would help, but even that doesn't actually prove anything in a concrete (no pun intended) scientific way.

    In the meantime, we can continue the search for more relevant artifacts, and enjoy these curious stones for what they are, at face value.