Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kentucky NASA EPSCoR

Western Kentucky University is the home of the Kentucky NASA EPSCoR Program, whose stated purpose is to support "the human endeavor in space, by contributing technological applications relating to space habitats, exploration, microgravity, and physiological adaptation" for missions such as the International Space Station.

Their research projects include an extensive Nanotechnology lab working on "Nanofabrication of Photonic Crystals, Nanotube Spin Electronics, and Nano Electro-Mechanical Structures", and a program called "Human Health Maintenance/Countermeasures and Spacecraft Environmental Monitoring, Safety, and Protection".

You can actually apply for research grants from KY NASA EPSCoR. Click here for more information about cutting-edge scientific funding opportunities.

Versailles in Hollywood

In the summer of 2004, Versailles, KY was swarming with Hollywood film crewmembers for the shooting of Elizabethtown, a film directed by Cameron Crowe and produced by Kentuckian Tom Cruise.

An abandoned downtown athletic center was remodeled to look like an antiquated bait shop, and the facade of Woodford County Senior Citizens Center was transformed into a mom-n-pop candy shop.

Other notable Kentucky scenes were shot in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery and Brown Hotel, and in Elizabethtown itself.

Versailles also figured prominently in another Kentucky-themed film: Kurt Russell's Dreamer.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cosmic Dust in Kentucky

In the January 1914 issue of a professional medical journal called The Medical Council, there's an article entitled "Dust and the Genesis of New Diseases". t provides some fascinating nuggets of antiquated info on the subject of microscopic and near-microscopic dust, a key interest of mine.

A choice chunk of the article:

Cosmic dust, of which thousands of tons annually fall on the Earth, is often charged with living organisms...

Darwin described a fall of strange organisms covering an area of over a million square miles. Weber found myriads of germs in a fall of yellow snow in Peckeloh, Germany... In October 1846 over one hundred unknown organisms were observed as charging a fall of cosmic dust in France. Ehrenberg estimated that forty-five tons of organic forms fell in this shower.

But then, most interestingly of all, it says:

Palestine and Western Kentucky have also been experienced immense showers of dust charged with organic life.

The article's author uses "cosmic dust" to refer to any dust falling from the sky, and freely admits that there is no way to determine with certainty whether the substances in question came from outer space, other worlds, or just blew here from somewhere else on Earth.

A century later, we are now pretty sure that it's the latter, and that any mass rains of living organic materials were somehow deposited by the Jet Stream or other winds. Dust from the Sahara Desert, for example, blows high into the atmosphere and then comes back down to land on Jamaica regularly.

(The huge Bauxite deposits in Jamaica, by the way, are a direct result of millions of years of this trans-Saharan dust migration. Most aluminum soda cans in North America are actually made from this Bauxite, so next time you pop open a can a Coke, ponder that you are holding something derived entirely of ancient Saharan sand particles that made their way to the Caribbean, one particle at a time over millenia, to be mined in the present day and turned into aluminum cans for you and me.)

But we also now know that actual cosmic dust from space is falling on Kentucky today - and everywhere else, for that matter. According to the must-read book The Secret Life of Dust by Hannah Holmes:

The Earth is still gathering a hundred tons of space dust every day - to the delight of scientists... "Since every atom in our bodies came from inside of stars", explains astrophysicist Don Brownlee, "by studying these interstellar dust particles, we can learn about our cosmic roots".

The Earth grows fatter every day, snowed under by a continuous microscopic flurry of space specks. Rare as they are, on average, every square yard of the planet should nonetheless receive one speck each day. Statistically, it's a good bet that there's a fresh piece of space dust on the hood of your car daily...

They're everywhere", Brownlee says. "You eat them all the time. Any carpet would have them."

As for the cryptic reference to falls of organic material from space occurring in Kentucky, that may be a reference to the "nostoc" incidents referred to by Charles Fort as....

"The Kentucky Phenomenon."

So it was called, in its day, and now we have an occurrence that attracted a great deal of attention in its own time. Usually these things of the accursed have been hushed up or disregarded—suppressed like the seven black rains of Slains—but, upon March 3, 1876, something occurred, in Bath County, Kentucky, that brought many newspaper correspondents to the scene.

The substance that looked like beef that fell from the sky.

Upon March 3, 1876, at Olympian Springs, Bath County, Kentucky, flakes of a substance that looked like beef fell from the sky—"from a clear sky." We'd like to emphasize that it was said that nothing but this falling substance was visible in the sky. It fell in flakes of various sizes; some two inches square, one, three or four inches square. The flake-formation is interesting: later we shall think of it as signifying pressure—somewhere. It was a thick shower, on the ground, on trees, on fences, but it was narrowly localized: or upon a strip of land about 100 yards long and about 50 yards wide. For the first account, see the Scientific American, 34-197, and the New York Times, March 10, 1876.

Meanwhile, the dusty material falling to Earth that is verifiably interstellar in origin is studied routinely in the astrophysics departments of Kentucky universities, such as UK's 2D Dusty project ("2D radiative transfer in astrophysical dust") and Western Kentucky University's paper "Detecting Dust-Generating Stars in the Milky Way Galaxy and Beyond".

Considering that our planet is nestled inside an immense disk of zodiacal dust, there should be plenty of interesting research in this field unto infinity.

St. Anne Convent

St. Anne Convent, located in Melbourne, KY, is affiliated with the Catholic organization Congregation of Divine Providence and is described on their website as a "spiritual gathering place for liturgies, retreats and celebrations" for over 600 sisters. Their website also says they were founded in 1889 "by a group of pioneering French women in Newport, Kentucky, along the Ohio River".

But most people on Earth's frame of reference for St. Anne's, whether they even know it or not, would be its appearance in the classic film Rain Man, starring Dustin Hoffman and Kentuckian Tom Cruise. St. Anne Convent was used by the filmmakers as the location of "Wallbrook", the fictitious mental institution where Hoffman's autistic character resides.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blank Grave

This curious grave in Cave Hill lacks any sort of engraving at all, save for the pair of praying hands. Since Cave Hill is one of the most exclusive, expensive and efficient cemeteries in the nation, it is unlikely that this occurred by accident, by forgetfulness, or by someone's inability to afford the engravure.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pulsating UFO over Erlanger

Though it lacks visual context - like pulling way back to show us the object's position in the sky relative to buildings on the ground - this UFO footage is interesting. Though blurry and jiggly, it suggests a round object with a flat bottom.

The incident allegedly occurred June 6th, around 2:30am, in Erlanger, KY. Erlanger is 45 minutes south of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

Drunken Pentecostal Minister Kills Attorney?

From the Kentucky Injury Lawyer Blog:

The Kentucky Enquirer is reporting that a Pentecostal minister is being held on $750,000 bail after being accused in a drunk-driving crash that killed a Northern Kentucky prosecutor.

Daniel Keith Gabbard, 40, of Butler, faces 20 years to life in prison if he is found guilty of wanton murder in the June 8 death of Doug Wright.

Wright had served as the commonwealth attorney for Harrison, Nicholas, Pendleton and Robertson counties for three years. He was married with two children.

Gabbard, an independent truck driver and pastor of Uptown Church in Over-the-Rhine, was driving his semi truck south on U.S. 27 near Butler when he crossed the center line and smashed head-on into prosecutor Doug Wright's 1990 Buick Riviera, according to state police.

Gabbard was being held at Hamilton County Justice Center and had decided not to fight extradition to Kentucky. He also is charged with driving drunk. Police have not released his blood-alcohol level.

All mention of Daniel Keith Gabbard's existence seems to have been removed from the official Gabbard Family/Uptown Church website. A cached copy can be seen here on ZoomInfo.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ann Rutledge

Born in Henderson, KY, the legendary Ann Rutledge supposedly had a romantic relationship with the young Abraham Lincoln. As the legend has it, Ann died at 22 from Typhoid Fever, and Abe went into a deep depression over her passing. This was once generally held as factual by historians, but in recent years some are starting to reassess the story.

In his book Lincoln the President, James G. Randall expresses doubts about their love affair in the chapter "Sifting the Ann Rutledge Evidence".

At the Abbeville Institute conference on "Re-Thinking Lincoln", maverick historian Clyde Wilson mentioned Ann in the course of his revisionist debunking frenzy:

"At times his wife drove him from the house in a rage, and she ended up in an insane asylum suffering mental and physical deterioration that have been described as resembling advanced syphilis. On the record, Lincoln was no poster boy for son, husband, or father. According to the fable Lincoln suffered greatly from the tragic early death of his first love. There is no evidence whatsoever for the Ann Rutledge story. However, we do know that Lincoln cold-bloodedly jilted one lady when he found another of higher status. Even then, he stood up the new fiance at the altar the first time."

Then again, the Abbeville Institute's motives in trashing Lincoln are more than a little suspicious.

But according to Wikipedia:

"After Lincoln's assassination in 1865, his friend and law partner William Herndon first revealed the story of the supposed romance between Rutledge and Lincoln, much to Mary Todd Lincoln's anger and dismay. Abraham Lincoln's surviving son Robert Todd Lincoln was also upset by this claim. Most of Herndon's sources came from interviews with Lincoln's early friends in New Salem and Ann's relatives. The story was later repeated by Herndon in several lectures and books."

Ann's grave has a peculiar bit of free verse inscribed on it, which reads in part:

I am Ann Rutledge who sleeps beneath these weeds

Beloved of Abraham Lincoln

Wedded not to him, not through union

But through seperation.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Weird Lizard of Madison County

The Kentucky Bigfoot cryptozoology website went so long without any updates that I'd just about given up on it... but lo and behold, I stuck my beak in there last night and found that a new sighting report had been filed back in February:

"I am a night time truck driver that goes down I 75 to williamsburg, ky. I believe I was south of Richmond, KY. I saw something next to the concrete barrier that divided the north and southbound interstate. I was on the southbound side. I thought at first it might be a rabibit, but this thing either jumped the highway or was so fast I didn't see it running. It crossed about 20ft. in front of my truck, easily getting to the other side and disapeared into the woods. I have never seen an animal like this before. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

It looked like it didn't have any fur on it, looking like it was just grey skin. It to me looked like a small reptile or even a small dinosaur. It may have been a couple feet or so long. It looked like it had small dark eyes on the side of it's head. I also saw a long tail on this thing. It was very very fast and a normal animal I would have hit it, as I was going 65 in a 70 mile speed zone. It happened so fast I didn't notice if it had ears or not. It truly looked like something out of jurisic [sic] park."

Wait, what? Small reptile or even small dinosaur? Was it the Milton Lizard? Or the "Reptilian Wild Man" of 1878? Or William Branham's Biblical Serpent-Dude?

Horse Industry Leaving KY?

I've received a scary booklet via snail-mail, from the Kentucky Equine Education Project. It says:

Due to expanded gaming, racetracks in Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida, Louisiana and other states have substantially increased their race purses. As a result, owners, trainers, horses and the jobs that are associated with them are leaving. It has left Kentucky's racing industry struggling for its life. Race days have been cancelled and Kentucky racetracks are on the verge of closing. Kentucky horse racing, the home of the Derby, is on the verge of meltdown.

Politicians in Frankfort have brushed this problem under the table for years, while jobs and tax dollars have left for other states. If Frankfort doesn't fix the problem soon, Kentucky will lose its signature industry.

Hyperbole? Maybe.

But maybe not. There's more than a handful of grains of truth to what they're saying, as evidenced by recent mainstream news stories about Turfway Park canceling some Monday cards, Recurring rumors of Ellis Park closing down, Churchill Downs struggling for entries, and thehorse.com's report about Keeneland's "downward spiral".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tomato Farm Redux

Back in the Spring, I wrote about an abandoned tomato farm that had some cool old remnants of its glory days hidden amongst the foliage, near the border of Jeffersontown and Middletown.

Well, recently these signs have appeared in front. Looks like somebody's got big plans to build a strip-mall here, including a new bank. (Oddly, another new bank is currently being built - and is almost finished - a block down the street, about 10 seconds away.)

This comes not long after a similar sign popped up not too far away, for a similar planned retail cluster which will demolish a quaint corner of older homes.

Don't we already have enough empty and unwanted shopping centers?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kentucky Ice Cream

Sadly, a remnant of a now-departed ice cream store at the also-now-departed Midway Cafe in Horse Cave, KY.

Police Doughnuts' Arrested Development

Bad cops - no donut.

Just two months after this law enforcement-themed bakery opened and I raved about it here, it's defunct.... or is it? More details on our Whitewashed Windows and Vacant Stores blog.

Monday, June 22, 2009

National Cornhole Day

The last Saturday of June has been declared National Cornhole Day. I'm pretty sure they're talking about the game of Cornhole, but then again, maybe not.

Anyway, the city of Carrollton is shrewdly capitalizing on this wave of Cornhole-mania that's sweeping the nation. They're hosting something called the HoleHeadz Fest, June 26, 27 and 28, at Point Park.

According to their press release:

To coincide with National Cornhole Day the ACO will hold its first annual HoleHeadz Fest the last weekend of June in Carrollton, Kentucky. The HoleHeadz Fest is camping fun where the two rivers meet. Everyone is invited. Expect family fun, spontaneous cornhole throughout the weekend, and a tournament for the cornhole crazies. Now that is a cornhole fest. Weekend cornhole is Free but there will be a guaranteed $1000.00 purse Luck of the Draw, Doubles Elimination Tournament Friday evening with a $20.00 entry and a guaranteed $4,000.00 purse Doubles Tournament Saturday called Cornhole Madness. After Saturday’s event Eight (8) Teams will each walk away with $500.00.

Point Park in Carrollton, Ky has perfect camping facilities located right at the Kentucky and Ohio River intersection and is gearing up for the National Cornhole Day weekend. There will be food, entertainment, and family fun with a Special Carrollton, Kentucky Proclamation on Saturday for National Cornhole Day.

So what IS Cornhole, anyway? Well, it's a complicated process by which you throw beanbags into a hole cut into a piece of wood.

That's it. Really.

No one knows how or why the game of Cornhole came to be, but Wikipedia claims it's widely believed to have originated in Kentucky or, some say, Cincinnati.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lexington Dinner Train?

Wow! Just saw this story:

A dinner train with boarding at Lexington Center and an excursion train between Lexington and beyond Frankfort could be in operation as early as next year, with the potential for passenger service between the two cities later.

The announcement was made Thursday at the Lexington Center board meeting by Fred Mudge, chairman of the board of R.J. Corman Railroad Group, based in Nicholasville...

A dinner train from Lexington would most likely go to Frankfort, turn around and come back, Mudge said. An excursion trip might extend to Bagdad, a small community west of Frankfort, then return to Lexington.

The Lexington Dinner Train would be operated by the R.J. Corman company, the same folks who bring you My Old Kentucky Dinner Train in Bardstown (pictured above, thanks to flickr's thomas.merton).

Shibboleth Hall

Way back in the day, this building at 917 Baxter Avenue in the Highlands of Louisville was a Masonic lodge called Shibboleth Hall, which is a name I find fascinating.

A Shibboleth is an ancient term from Biblical times, and it refers to any subtle hints that one is a member of any particular group. Many Shibboleths are built around highly specific pronunciations of common words or super-subtle vocal inflections, but Shibboleths can also be any sneaky placement of coded terms, secret jargon, or what my old friend Kerry Wendell Thornley had called "Cant Language" - catchphrases which would go over the head of most people but would instantly send up a red flag for anyone who knew what to listen for.

In-the-know conspiracy theorists routinely pore over speeches by politicians and world leaders, searching for keywords and phrases that have special meaning to secret societies, yet sound innocuous enough to go unnoticed by the average citizen.

In the years since Shibboleth Hall closed, the building has housed many restaurants and night clubs. Check out our Whitewashed Windows and Vacant Stores blog for more details.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

KY Civil War Corpse in NM Man's Living Room

Fort Craig was an Army fort near the Rio Grande in Socorro County, New Mexico. It played an important part of the Civil War and the Indian Wars before its closure in 1885.

With no grave markers and the cemetery plot map lost, most people had completely forgotten that Fort Craig had a cemetery containing about sixty graves - mostly soldiers and family members. According to this article, it had actually been erroneously assumed that the Army had long since transplanted those graves elsewhere. They had not.

In November 2004, authorities were tipped off that a man named Dee Brecheisen was keeping a mummified soldier's corpse, stolen from Fort Craig, on display in his living room. Unfortunately, Mr. Brecheisen dropped dead himself before the Federal investigators could get to the bottom of the whole mess.

As it turns out, the soldier who was on display at Brecheisen's home was Private Thomas Smith, a 23-year-old farmer from Butler County, Kentucky.

Some of the remaining corpses and other items grave-robbed by Brecheisen are still being assessed and investigators are trying to track down relatives. Most of the bodies are currently stored at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Aerial Mystery of 1880

Another great contribution from our friend David Domine:

When I found mention of the 1880s sighting of Spring Heeled Jack in Louisville by Jim Brandon, I went to the library and went through all the micro-fiched copies of the local papers around that time, in the hopes that I'd find the original article that spurred that reference. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the article in question, but strangely enough, I found other articles about strange aerial phenomena at the same time. Maybe they tie in?

I think Bart Nunnelly might refer to one of them in his book, but I found several others, including reports of a flying Spring-heeled Jack kind of character seen over Coney Island and "flying towards Kentucky."

What follows are key exceprts from the Courier-Journal news stories Domine passed along.

July 29, 1880:



Between 6 and 7 o’clock last evening while Messers. C. A. Youngman and Ben Flexner were standing at a side window of Haddart’s drug store, at Second and Chestnut Streets, looking skyward, they discovered an object high up in the air, apparently immediately above the Ohio river bridge, which they at first thought was the wreck of a toy balloon. As it got nearer they observed that it had the appearance of a man surrounded by machinery, which he seemed to be working with his feet and hands. He worked his feet as though he was running a treadle, and his arms seemed to be swinging to and fro above his head, though the latter movement sometimes appeared to be executed with wings or fans. The gazers became considerably worked up by the apparition, and inspected it very closely. They could see the delicate outlines of machinery, but the object was too high up to make out its exact construction. At times it would seem to be descending, and then the man appeared to exert himself considerably, and ran the machine faster, when it would ascend and assume a horizontal position. It did not travel as fast as a paper balloon, and its course seemed to be entirely under the control of the aeronaut. At first it was traveling a southeastward direction, but when it reached a point just over the city, and it turned and went due south, until it had passed nearly over the city, when it tacked to the southwest, in which direction it was going when it passed out of sight in the twilight of the evening. The gentlemen who saw it are confident that it was a man navigating the air on a flying machine. His movements were regular and the machine was under the most perfect control. If he belonged to this mundane sphere he should have dropped his card as he passed over, to enlighten those who saw him, and that his friends, if he has any, might be informed of his whereabouts.

July 30, 1880:

Lively times prevailed at Ruddart’s drug store on Second and Chestnut streets yesterday, requiring the greatest exertion on the part of the clerks to answer the questions of visitors and telephone calls in regard to the flying machine that was seen from this place the previous evening. Inquiries began to pour in as soon as the doors were opened yesterday morning, from early readers of the COURIER-JOURNAL, asking to have the machine explained to them in all its minuteness....

By the time the shades of night began to settle over the city, fully 500 visitors had called to inquire about it, and the telephone bell kept up a constant ringing all day, and, but for the fact that hardly two persons made the same inquiries, the clerks would have broken down at the task. Among the callers, however, was a lady living in the southern part of the city, who saw the areonaut himself, and called the attention of her husband to it. They did not get a good view of it, however, but saw enough to convince them, that it was the work of a "human agency."

August 6, 1880:

Dr. D. F. Dempsey, of Madisonville, Ky., has written the following to the Madisonville Times concerning the flying machine which was observed passing over this city two weeks ago:
"I interviewed Mr. Wells, the proprietor of the marble shop, North Main street, and Mr. Royster, a workman in said shop, in regard to what he and his family saw hop over Madisonville last Wednesday, but was not positive as to the day. Mr. Wells stated that Mr. Royster told him about it the day that an account of a flying machine over Louisville was published in the COURIER-JOURNAL. I asked them both, particularly Mr. Wells, was it before we received the COURIER-JOURNAL. The reply was emphatic, that it was in the morning of the day we received said COURIER-JOURNAL. Mr. Royster stated that the evening before, which would be Wednesday, between sundown and dark, his son Johnnie, six or seven years old, called his attention to something he saw hopping over Madisonville. He, Mr. Royster, said his wife and other children went out and looked at it. They live in southeastern Madisonville, about half mile from the railroad depot. He said there seemed to be a ball at each end of the thing, and it looked as if it was about over the depot. It sometimes appeared in a circular form and changed to an oval. It passed out of sight going, as well as he could determine, directly south. Everybody knows Mr. Wells and will believe that what he said in regard to the time Mr. Royster told him these things is strictly true."

New York Times, Sept. 12, 1880:

One day last week a marvelous apparition was seen near Coney Island. At the height of at least a thousand feet in the air a strange object was in the act of flying toward the New Jersey coast. It was apparently a man with bat’s wings and improved frog’s legs. The face of which could be distinctly seen, and it wore a cruel and determined expression. The movements made by the object closely resembled those of a frog in the act of swimming with his hind legs and flying with his front legs....

About a month ago an object of precisely the same nature was seen in the air over St. Louis by a number of citizens who happened to be sober and are believed to be trustworthy. A little later it was seen by various Kentucky persons as it flew across the state.

I'm still digesting these materials and mulling 'em over, but I have to say one of my first impressions is that it gives me pause that from one day to the next, the Courier-Journal couldn't get the name of the drugstore right. On the other hand, the interconnectivity between the Courier-Journal reports and the New York Times report is a huge step towards giving this story some legs.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Football in the Sky

Put some lights on this thing and you could have a pretty convincing UFO at night. This peculiar football-mimetic hot air balloon went wafting over my apartment complex this morning.

Roadside Monument, LaGrange Road

A roadside death monument on Highway 146 (LaGrange Road), in Whipps Millgate, KY.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Old Governor's Mansion

The Old Governor's Mansion in Frankfort, historically the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky, has been empty since Steve Henry vacated it in 2003. Subsequent Lieutenant Governors have chosen to live elsewhere to be closer to their hometowns.

The Kentucky Historical Society has since taken it over, and have completed renovations for turning it into a guest house. The renovation project was spearheaded by first lady Jane Beshear, along with former first ladies Phyllis George Brown, Judy Patton, and Libby Jones. Former Governor Martha Layne Collins has also been active in the process.

But whoever stays at this guest house may get more than they bargained for. As with many old Frankfort buildings, numerous ghost legends have been attached to the Old Governor's Mansion in the two centuries since it was built.

According to the Frankfort State-Journal:

Stephen Collins, son of former Gov. Martha Layne Collins, said according to legend, the Old Governor's Mansion is haunted. Collins is also chairman of the Historic Properties Advisory Commission and its members have discussed the possibility of using the mansion as a guesthouse.

Collins lived in the mansion with his mother while she was lieutenant governor between 1979 and 1983. According to legend, Margaret Robinson Robertson, the mother-in-law of Gov. Robert Letcher who held office from 1840-1844, still haunts the mansion.

Robertson moved in with her son-in-law after she was injured in a buggy accident that also killed her husband. She lived in the dining room on the first floor and Collins said she pledged to return after Letcher left office in 1844.

"They say if ever evil is about to befall the walls of the mansion, the ghost of Mrs. Robertson will return and the evil spirits will disappear," Collins said.

Gov. Christopher Greenup, who served from 1804-1808, held the first inaugural ball for his wife, Mary Catherine Pope Greenup. She died in 1807, and according to legend, her ghost walks the halls at night carrying a candle, Collins said.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Great Saltpetre Cave

Discovered in the late 18th century, the Great Saltpetre Cave was immediately utilized for its mass quantities of saltpetre, which was used to manufacture gunpowder. According to Wikipedia:

During the War of 1812, sixty to seventy men were employed to mine the cave of its saltpeter, deemed necessary as British blockades prevented saltpeter shipments from overseas. Many of the workers at the cave were slaves. To a lesser degree the cave was also mined during the Mexican-American War and the Civil War.

For a time, ending in the 1970s, Great Saltpetre Cave was a commercial cave, and was open not only for tours, but also for ballroom dances, a museum, and weddings. However, the guests would often damage the cave formations by taking souvenirs.

You can't believe everything you read on Wikipedia, however. The Great Saltpetre Cave actually continued to be available for weddings, and for a yearly Mother's Day event, right up into the 1990s.

Today the Great Saltpetre Cave is owned by the Rockcastle Karst Conservancy, as part of the 300-acre Great Saltpetre Preserve. Sadly, Bluegrass concerts, as shown in the photo above, are no longer held there. The Renfro Valley Barn Dance held its inaugural radio broadcast in the cave in 1939.

Schreck's Kentucky Liquor

One of the best-loved pieces of vintage signage in Louisville is that of Schreck's Kentucky Liquor Store, depicting as it does an archetypal Transylvania Gentleman engaged in the noble act of smoking, perchance to drink.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Masonic diary on eBay

For the next couple of months, I'm going to be putting up various and sundry items up for auction on eBay as part of an ongoing fundraising drive for the Catclaw Theatre Company and the cause to which we are all so devoted. Items will range from the trenchant to the trivial, from the massive to the miniscule, for all budgets great and small.

Many of the items may be of interest to collectors of Kentuckiana, such as this old diary kept in a 1942 calendar/dayplanner from the Madison-Southern National Bank & Trust Company, Richmond, KY.

Attached to the upper right corner of the cover is a blue and gold Masonic lapel pin.

The small book is heavily written in throughout, used primarily as a diary but also as an address book, general ledger, and notepad for various philosophical musings. It was the property of one Valley C. Megee, Stanford, KY, who resided at something called the "Blue Cat Tourist Home". (One of the last entries in the diary says "Moved back to Richmond".)

Like most old diaries, it's a fascinating and sometimes sad record of someone's life, and may well be the only remaining tangible legacy left behind by that person.

Click here to view our auctions. More will be added daily, so keep a-checkin'.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Ascent

What's the weirdest building in Kenton County? Probably The Ascent, an amazing avant-garde structure that looks like something out of a Weimar wet dream. Resembling an elegant staircase or a bridge to infinity, The Ascent is the creation of Studio Daniel Libeskind, who were commissioned to design it in 2004. The building was completed in Covington last year and is one of Kentucky's boldest and bravest buildings, architecturally speaking.

Their website states:

More than a luxury condominium, The Ascent is at once an aesthetic statement and a towering architectural achievement. Its signature arcing profile invites a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to be part of an exclusive community that literally lives in an original work of art.

Claim your reward in this magnificent, inspiring structure that soars upward, reaching to the sky.

Heck, they're just about talking me into it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Heigold Facade

This is all that remains of the historic Heigold House in Butchertown, KY. The Heigold House was, in the 19th century, only one of many luxurious homes alongside this part of River Road, and the general area was known as "The Point".

In those days, this area was populated largely by wealthy French-speaking Cajuns from New Orleans who all chose to migrate here (not sure why). The Wikipedia has this to say:

Contemporary Louisville leaders of the time wanted the entire area depopulated and replaced with a park called Point Park Project, which was done to the extreme northern part of the area, now called Thruston Park. This remained the preferred urban public park throughout the 40's and 50's. The park was severely disrupted by the construction of I-64 in the early 60's and by the 80's, it was in a neglected and dismal state. The Harbor remained until it was closed by the city in 2005.

Today the only remaining structures are the decorated front facade of the Heigold House which was moved to its present location from the area of Frankfort Ave. and Padgett House, the last remaining of the riverfront mansions along Fulton St. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Heigold facade has been placed in a roundabout on Frankfort Ave. near River Road, while the fate of the historic Padgett House remains uncertain.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Goodbye, Analog World

Broadcast television will cease to exist today in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and everyplace else in these here United States.

But even after years of public service announcements, even after millions of taxpayer dollars spent on discount coupons to help people buy digital converter boxes, and even after President Obama extending the deadline to make sure that everyone's on the same page, there are still thousands of Kentuckians who are not ready for the jump. Many people still don't even know about this analog-to-digital bait-and-switch.

And they're the lucky ones.

Digital waves are what computers and other electronic devices use to transmit information, but analog waves are how our ears hear. The usage of certain digital waves can have the unnatural effect of reaching the brain without being detected by the ear. There's been a growing murmur on the internet "tinfoil hat" conspiracy circuit about the possibilities of digital audio and video as having the potential to be the ultimate brainwashing medium.

And I do believe they just might be right. Dr. Christine Aschermann warns of "significant negative health consequences" of increased RF radiation associated with digital broadcasting. Among the side effects she reports: "constant headaches, pressure in the head, drowsiness, sleep problems, inability to think clearly, forgetfulness, nervous tensions, irritability, tightness in the chest, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, depressive mood, total apathy, loss of empathy", and more.

According to a paper you can read on Scribd, a Pentagon psychotronics project called SSSS (Silent Sound Spread Spectrum) has already been in place for many years, only waiting for its moment to arise, with the advent of a Government-enforced all-digital world. That time would seem to be right about now.

The SSSS technology comes from US Patent #5,159,703, "Silent Subliminal Presentation System", October 27, 1992.

Researcher Judy Wall makes some wild claims: "There is evidence that the US Government has plans to extend the range of this technology to envelop all peoples, all countries. This can be accomplished, is being accomplished, by utilising the nearly completed HAARP Project for overseas areas and the GWEN network now in place in the US." NEXUS Magazine also carried a great article about Silent Sound in 1998, available here.

But even if it's all true (and it probably is), It doesn't take suspicion of an NSA mind-control conspiracy to get me to shun TV, I can do that just fine by myself.

"Reality" shows like Southern Belles Louisville and America's Next Top Model will turn your mind to mush and lower your IQ by several points just by watching such crap - no techno-brainwashing necessary. So-called "news channels" that consist of little more than the barking of insults and namecalling (yes, I mean both MSNBC and FOX when I say that) will reduce your empathy and heighten your apathy just fine, without any need for billion-dollar DARPA Pentagon gizmos. And with the barrage of loud obnoxious advertisements like that Shamwow guy, most cable television is, for me, nearly unwatchable.

My best advice is to get away from your TV sets and go outside. (Of course, my other best advice would be to also get off the internet. I never denied being a hypocrite.)

Nicole Vanzant

Yesterday in Stanton, the funeral was held for Nicole Penix-Vanzant, who had made national news headlines when she disappeared in January.

According to news reports, her boyfriend said she got out of his car after an argument, after which she was never seen again. Although many news reports say he dropped her off at "Frenchburg General Store", which is described as being located "on a remote stretch of road in Menifee County", it's actually Dollar General Store on Frenchburg's Main Street. The authorities searched for her but found nothing, until late April when her jawbone and other body parts were inadvertently discovered by a hiker in the Red River Gorge.

The case still remains unsolved.

Storm, 6-11-09

A few hours ago I was stuck in a very bad storm in St. Matthews, surrounded by extremely low-hanging dark clouds with little pendulous whatchamacallits that wobbled threateningly, looking as if they could form into tornadoes at any moment. The winds at several points seemed near-tornadic, whipping rain and debris around into spirals, and shaking my car violently.

And of course, like some dopey Weather Channel storm-chaser, I'm following 'em and taking pictures, hoping to catch some cool funnel cloud photos.

No such luck.