Travel Trails By Martin B. Deutsch



September 1, 1962 -- Within eight months of each other in the early nineteenth century, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were born in the State of Kentucky. Any other similarity in the lives of the two men ends there, but the divergent paths followed by Lincoln and Davis were to have a profound effect not only on the state of their birth, but on the Union itself. The Civil War found Lincoln as President of the Union, Davis in the same position for the Confederacy. The conflict found Kentucky a savagely ridden border state, with 100,000 wearing the blue of the North and 45,000 the gray of the South.

Today, 100 years after the Civil War, casual visitors such as you and your family can enjoy a leisurely auto tour of the monuments, shrines and battlefields that make Kentucky one of the most interest-filled of the fifty states. You will also find many remnants of both the log cabin-culture of such men as Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Boone, and the gracious, Southern-plantation era of a Jefferson Davis.

But (and we'd like to emphasize this point), there's a lot more to Kentucky than history. For one thing, the State Government is currently spending $20,000,000 to spruce up and expand its vast network of vacation parks with full facilities for a moderately-priced family holiday. Twelve of these resort parks offer water-skiing, full bonus for parents, baby-sitting services. Also, television now comes with each cottage and lodge; most of the parks have new swimming pools, and tent camping facilities have been added at ten parks. Two new golf courses were opened this year and work is under way on three others. And, to meet the rising visitor demand, new lodges and cottages are being built in these parks across the state.

On another front, Kentucky now enjoys an excellent highway system from east to west and from north to south. Millions of dollars have been spent in recent years to put the finishing touches on this impressive super-highway network. To point up the fact the more and more tourists are using these roads, the State reports that 5,000 new motel rooms have opened in the last three years.

Third, but not last, Kentucky has horses and the lovely Bluegrass region, with some of the most celebrated horse farms in the world. Most of the 250 horse nurseries here are open to tourists, usually from nine a.m. to four p.m. The only admission fee is a courtesy call at the farm office.

In order to give you a bird's-eye sampling of Kentucky's major visitor attractions--historical sites, vacation areas and the Bluegrass region--we're going to trace a typical eight-day auto itinerary, getting under way in Louisville and winding up in the state capital of Frankfort.

We'll start with a visit to Louisville's Churchill Downs, home of the world-renowned Kentucky Derby. Even if racing it's your mint julep, the track is worth a visit for the picturesque crowds, the color and the excitement. Leaving the track and Louisville in late afternoon, you can take a pleasant two-hour drive to Lexington, heart of the Bluegrass country, often described as the horse capital of the world. The countryside in this part of the state is gentle and rolling, neat, with white picket fences, and dominated, above all, by horses.

After spending the night in the Lexington area, you devote almost a full day to the horse farms. The two most famous are Calumet and Spendthrift. The former has bred more stakes winners than any of its competitors, including seven Kentucky Derby victors. Calumet's immaculate fields and red barns with white trim make it an ideal place to unleash the camera. The gleaming stalls spell home to such horses as Citation, Bull Lea and Tim Tam. Spendthrift is the leading commercial breeding farm, with a roster of stallions led by Nashua, whose purchase price was a record $1,251,200. For those who favor trotters, a visit to Castleton Farm is advisable. If you're lucky, you may be in the area when a horse auction is under way.

Lexington also has two fine tracks, Keeneland for thoroughbred racing, and the Lexington Trots Breeders Association for standard-breds. In case you would like to leave the driving to someone else, Bluegrass Tours of Lexington offers one-thirty p.m. departures daily for the horse farms. Cost of the half-day tour is $3.50, includes a visit to Ashland, the home of Henry Clay, for a nostalgic encounter with the Old South.

The evening of the second day, or the following morning, you can make the long trip to Kentucky Lake State Park and Kentucky Dam Village, tucked in the south-west corner of the state. Both these fine resorts lie on the western shore of Kentucky Lake, formed by Kentucky Dam into the biggest man-made lake in the world. A visitor to the State Park has a choice of accommodations: ten dollars daily for two at the air-conditioned Kenlake Hotel; a selection of fully equipped cottages at twelve dollars daily for two, or fourteen to sixteen dollars for four, and tent camping and trailer, at fifty cents each for two persons and twenty-five cents for each additional guest. Recreational facilities include fishing, swimming, picnicking, horseback riding, shuffleboard and golf course (under construction). A pleasant boat trip will take you and your family north on the lake to the Dam Village, where an assortment of cottage accommodations is available at rates similar to those at Kentucky Lake State Park. There are also lodges for eight or eleven dollars daily for two. Add tennis, badminton and croquet to the available athletic facilities.

This is an auspicious time during out tour to take a breather and discuss fishing and hunting in the state. Kentucky Lake alone holds catfish, crappie, largemouth and stripped bass, bluegill, sauger, walleye and rockfish. In all, more than 200 species have been identified in the state's 13,000 miles of rivers and streams, 250,000 acres of sizeable lakes and 50,000 smaller lakes and ponds. If it's hunting you crave, birds and small game are plentiful, while the deer herds are growing steadily.

On the fourth morning of our trip, we'll drive northeast into the state for about ninety minutes to Pennyrile Forest State Park, an area of deep rivers and lakes, rolling farmland and forest-covered hills. Open mid-May to mid-September, the park's cottage and lodge facilities are prices comparably to the Kentucky Lake resorts (which are open the year around).

At Pennyrile we'd like to give a sample of a typical Southern-style meal, suh! Main course: choice of Kentucky spring lamb with mint sauce, Kentucky roasted suckling pig with gravy and country sausage, Pennyrile Forrest smothered chicken, or Lake Beshear turnip greens with Christian County hog jowl. Among the vegetables are Hopkins County black-eyed peas, Wilson Wyatt turnips with pot-likker soup, Outwood sweet Ôtaters, Loblolly Pine relish, or Cattie Lou's Kentucky Wonder green beans with country ham hocks. Also (if you're still hungry), Bert Comb's cornbread, Tradewater River chess pie, Nettie Armstrong's jam cake or Joan Faull's orange-banana homemade ice cream.

There's much more at Pennyrile, but we'll take a siesta and then a forty-five minute ride to the Jefferson Davis Monument at Fairview. The features here include an elevator to the top of the 351-foor obelisk (thirty-five cents for you, fifteen cents for the youngsters) and a replica of the house in which Davis was born.

On the same afternoon, we can take a leisurely two-hour-plus run up to Mammoth Cave Natural Park. Lodgings at the Park and in the area are plentiful and reasonably priced. In the morning, we can tour the cave, which was discovered in 1799 and has been a tourist attraction for more than a century. There are more than 150 miles of charter caverns on five distinct levels. Tours vary from ninety minutes to seven hours; fees range from one-fifty to two-eighty. Open every day of the year, the Park recently added a new Visitor Center, with geological, historical and archeological exhibits.

Later in the morning of our fifth day, you can motor for about seventy-five minutes to the Abraham Lincoln birthplace site near Hodgenville. Here is enshrined the tiny cabin of hand-hewn logs where the sixteenth president was born. After lunch en route, the tour takes you to Bardstown for a visit to "My Old Kentucky Home," made famous by Stephen Foster's song, which he wrote in 1852. Beautifully located, the house is a symbol of gracious pre-Civil War southern living. Another such home, Wickland, just a-half mile from Bardstown, is also worth a look. Before calling it a day, you might pull in at Lincoln Homestead State Park near Springfield for a peek at replicas of the cabins occupied by his mother and grandfather. This shrine is open April through October, with a twenty-five-cent fee for your, ten cents, for the offspring.

The sixth day will take you to Pioneer memorial State Park, said to be the first permanent white settlement west of the Allegheny Mountains. There is a reproduction of Fort Harrod on its original site, and a museum. A little further along, Constitution Square State Park in Danville commemorates the state's first seat of government and its first constitution in 1792.

A two-hour drive will bring you to Lake Cumberland State Park and lunch. This beautiful resort area with a 1,255-mile shoreline, offers fishing, swimming, boating and tennis, an excellent selection of accommodations in lodges and cottages, as well as facilities for tents and trailers. (Rates are similar to those at Kentucky Lake.) After a relaxing afternoon at Lake Cumberland, you can take the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Cumberland Falls State Park, where doubles may be had in lodges for as low as six dollars. Cottages, tent and trailer sites are also available. There is a riding stable to augment the sand beach, swimming pool, hiking trails and fishing facilities.

On the seventh morning, just take it easy and relax, if you haven't done so up to now. In the afternoon, a visit to Levy Jackson State Park is in order. Here, the Mountain Life Museum recreates the day-in-day-out existence of the state's pioneers. Open only April though October, this park charges thirty-five cents for adults and fifteen cents for children. A trip to Frankfort, the state capital, for a visit to Daniel Boone's grave, the Old State Capitol and Liberty Hall, ends our proposed itinerary.

Thee program we have outlined barely scratches the surface of Kentucky's wide-spread system of resort parks and shrines. Among the other state parks with visitor accommodations are Audubon State, Natural Bridge, Carter Caves, General Butler, Jenny Wiley, Pine Mountain and Rough River Dam. And these parks, as well as others, are continuously being modernized and expanded. Their primary aim is to cater to the family on vacation.

Additional information and literature are available from the Division of Tourist and Travel Promotion, Commonwealth of Kentucky, New Capitol Annex, Frankfort, Kentucky.

And as a charming young ground hostess told me of our staff members as he boarded a plane in Louisville recently: "Y'all come again, heah!"

State officials tell us that tourism has recently become Maryland's fastest-growing industry, with estimated income this year expected to exceed $325,000,000. You'll know why this is so if you've ever enjoyed some of the mouth-watering sea food that comes straight out of Chesapeake Bay; spent some time in the gracious, historic state capital, the Colonial city of Annapolis, or explored Maryland's many state parks, rivers and streams, lakes and beaches. One of the thirteen original states, Maryland offers an ideal family vacation, both for its many memorable reminders of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War, and the wide assortment of year-around recreational opportunities. Criss-crossed by fine highways, Maryland is also handy for either long or short-stay self-drive vacations in conjunction with nearby states and cities. Within easy driving distance are Washington D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.

While Baltimore is Maryland's largest and most cosmopolitan city, Annapolis holds an edge in charm and visitor appeal. Founded in 1649 by Puritans, the town became the capital of the colony in 1694. The Maryland State House, built in 1772, served as the Capitol of the United States from November, 1783 to August, 1784. A lovely and uncomplicated building of Georgian design, it is today the oldest State House in this country used for its original purpose. Annapolis still has many Colonial homes in use, with several of them open to the public, including the Brice House, Chase-Lloyd House and the Hammond-Harwood House. Other sights not to miss in and around Annapolis include the Old Treasury, built in 1734; St. Anne's Church, dating back to 1696; the United States Naval Academy, with its Chapel enshrining the tomb of Naval History; and St. John's College, third oldest U.S. college, formed as King William's School in 1696.

Baltimore, sixth largest U.S. city and second largest port, is known as "The National Anthem City." It holds the first statue ever erected to the memory of George Washington, the War Memorial, the old Shot Tower, the Flag House, the grave of Edgar Allan Poe and Hampton House. A major attraction is For McHenry, where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write "The Star Spangled Banner." The city also is noted for three museums: the Peale Museum of Art; the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Walters Art Gallery. Also worth a visit are Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland.

Whichever way your itinerary takes you, make it a must to cross the famous Chesapeake Bay Bridge, a seven-and-a-quarter-mile engineering marvel which spans Maryland's eastern and western shores. Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries offer 6,000 miles of shoreline and beach for excellent sunbathing, boating, swimming and fishing. In all, the state is endowed with 175 major salt-water rivers and streams and 3,500 lakes, reservoirs and ponds. These waterways, along with the Atlantic Ocean coastline, offer stripped bass, marlin, cobia, largemouth and smallmouth black bass, fresh-water trout and panfish. Maryland also has almost 3,000,000 acres of forest area, with twenty-nine state forests, parks and recreation areas. Hunting includes deer, duck and geese, quail, cottontail rabbits, wild turkeys, grouse, doves and squirrels. The names of some of the state's picturesque rivers should be enough to whet your appetite for fishing, hunting, boating, camping and sightseeing. Typical are the Potomac, Patuxent, Susquehanna, Choptank, Nanticoke, Elk, Sassafras, Severn, Gunpowder, Bush, Miles and Pocomoke. The Great Falls of Potomac River, just six miles above Washington, drew thousands of visitors every year.

Many excellent motels along the highways, cottages and camp sites at mountain resorts, and hotels in the towns and cities, are available for you and your family at rates to fit all budgets. Sea food is, of course, your best buy, but don't overlook the fried chicken or stuffed country ham. Maryland also has many special attractions for the youngsters, such as the Enchanted Forrest on Route 40 near Ellicott City, and Frontier Town, near Ocean City on the Atlantic seaboard. The former brings Mother Goose rhymes to life; the latter recreates the days of the Wild West.

Maryland also has race tracks for flats and trotters, professional baseball (Baltimore Orioles) and football (Baltimore Colts), champion public and private golf courses, and yacht and speed-boat races on Chesapeake Bay.

A few months ago in "Travel Trails" we discussed new group fares offered by the North Atlantic steamship lines serving Europe, and we also alluded to a similar group program that was under consideration by the airlines. As you probably know by now, the airlines have introduced these new air rates, and just like their steamship counterparts, they are designed to save you money--a sizeable thirty-eight per cent, in fact. The air program, which applies to twenty-five or more persons flying together in both directions, is of special interest to the cost-conscious husband who wants to take his family.

Once you become eligible for an air group --and we'll tell you shortly how you can --your wife, dependant children and any parents who live in your household may also travel along to Europe at the reduced group rate. Children between two and twelve count as half-members of the group, at half the fare. Thus, you might bring two youngsters for the price of one ticket. Two types of groups qualify for the fares. One is the "affinity" group, which means that if you and twenty-four others have belonged for an at least six months to a social, civic, religious, educational, athletic or similar organization, you can start packing. The "spontaneous" group is somewhat more difficult to put your finger on. This one means that if twenty-five or more people get together for any reason other than, to promote a trip, and suddenly, out of the blue, as it were, they all decide they want to go to Europe, they qualify under the "spontaneous" rules. (Please check with an airline or travel agent to see if your group is really "spontaneous" before you invest any time or effort. As Yul Brynner said in "The King and I," "Is a puzzlement.")

Be that as it may, the group fares are a very good deal. The regular economy-class round-trip air fare between New York and London is $486 by jet. The same cost under the group fare is only $300, or thirty-eight per cent below the economy rate. Between the same two cities, in propeller planes, the cost is $450 in economy class, $278 by group. Also under group regulations, you fly on regular scheduled flights, sitting in economy class with travelers who pay full fare. The service is the same for all passengers. While the group has to fly over and back as a unit, you can go your own way while in Europe.

The group fares are available throughout the year, except for week-end departures from the United States and Canada in May, June and July, and from Europe on week ends in August, September and October. Week end here means seven o'clock Friday morning to seven o'clock Monday morning. And don't forget the passport and the smallpox vaccination (within three years) certificate.

This column originally appeared in Argosy magazine.

Copyright © 1962-2007 by Martin B. Deutsch. All rights reserved.