Kentucky is a mideastern state of the United States and its state capital is Frankfort. Attractions include horse racing and beautiful lakes. The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States, normally included in the group of Southern states, but sometimes partially included, geographically and culturally, in the Midwest. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states established as a commonwealth. Originally a part of Virginia, in 1792 it became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is the 37th largest state in terms of land area, and ranks 26th in population.
Kentucky is known as the "Bluegrass State," a nickname based on the fact that bluegrass is present in many of the lawns and pastures throughout the state. It is a land with diverse environments and abundant resources. It has expansive cave and karst systems, coalfields, wetlands and forests. Kentucky is also known for thoroughbred horses, horse racing, bourbon distilleries, bluegrass music, automobile manufacturing, and college basketball.
Defining the culture of Kentucky is difficult because the contrast between the Golden Triangle area of the state, which is largely urban, and the rest of the state, which is largely rural, is so stark. The biggest day in horse racing, the Kentucky Derby, is preceded by the two-week Kentucky Derby Festival in Louisville. Louisville also plays host to the Kentucky State Fair, the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, and Southern gospel's annual highlight, the National Quartet Convention. Owensboro, Kentucky's third largest city, gives credence to its nickname of "Barbecue Capital of the World" by hosting the annual International Bar-B-Q Festival, and Bowling Green, Kentucky's fifth largest city and home to the only assembly plant in the world that manufactures the Chevrolet Corvette, opened the National Corvette Museum in 1994.
Old Louisville, the largest historic preservation district in the United States featuring Victorian architecture and the third largest overall, hosts the St. James Court Art Show, the largest outdoor art show in the United States. The neighborhood was also home to the Southern Exposition (1883-1887), which featured the first public display of Thomas Edison's light bulb, and was the setting of Alice Hegan Rice's novel, Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch.
The more rural communities are not without traditions of their own, however. Hodgenville, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, hosts the annual Lincoln Days Celebration, and will also host the kick-off for the National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in February 2008.Bardstown celebrates its heritage as a major bourbon-producing region with the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. (Legend holds that Baptist minister Elijah Craig invented bourbon with his black slave in Georgetown, but some dispute this claim.) Glasgow mimics Glasgow, Scotland by hosting its own version of the Highland Games, and Sturgis hosts "Little Sturgis", a mini version of Sturgis, South Dakota's annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The residents of tiny Benton even pay tribute to their favorite tuber by hosting Tater Day.
Kentucky is accessible by five interstates; I-71 and I-75 coming from Cincinnati going to Louisville and Lexington, respectively, I-64 going from Ashland to Louisville, I-65 from Louisville to Bowling Green and I-24 from Paducah to Hopkinsville. The state is also served by major parkways administered by the state. The Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway connects I-64 in Winchester to eastern Kentucky near Prestonsburg. The Bluegrass Parkway connects I-65 and the Western Kentucky Pkwy near Elizabethtown with the Lexington area near Versailles. The Western Kentucky Parkway links I-65 in Elizabethtown with I-24 near Lake Barkley. The Purchase Pkwy links Fulton and southwest Kentucky with I-24 at Calvert City. The Pennyrile Pkwy connects the Henderson-Evansville area with I-24 at Hopkinsville, while the Natcher Pkwy connects Owensboro with Bowling Green. And the Cumberland Pkwy crosses southern Kentucky between I-65 and Somerset.
There are three airports in the state. Louisville International Airport is served by several major airlines, including Southwest, Delta, USAir and American Airlines. Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, located off of I-275 near Hebron, is a major hub for Delta. Lexington's Blue Grass Field offers flights to several cities. Forty miles from southern Kentucky is Nashville International Airport
Attractions Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area located near Whitley City.
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Red River Gorge, part of the Daniel Boone National Forest is where the two largest rivers in North America - the Mississippi and Ohio rivers - converge along the Kentucky border
Natural Bridge State Park
Mammoth Cave National Park is the world's largest cave system and one of the biggest attractions in Kentucky.
Louisville has the Louisville Slugger Museum and Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is held.
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site located in Hodgenville consists of two farms; one, a birthplace site, and the other, a boyhood home.
Cumberland Gap, chief passageway through the Appalachian Mountains in early American history.
Cumberland Falls State Park, the only waterfall in the world that regularly displays a "moonbow".
Land Between the Lakes, a National Recreation Area managed by the United States Forest Service.
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is a 14,000 acre (57 km²) arboretum, forest and nature preserve located in Clermont.
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail also passes through Kentucky.
Black Mountain, the state's highest point runs along the border of Harlan and Letcher counties.
Bad Branch Falls State Nature Preserve, 2,639-acre state nature preserve on southern slope of Pine Mountain in Letcher County. Includes one of the largest concentrations of rare and endangered species in the state, as well as a 60-foot waterfall and a Kentucky Wild River.
Jefferson Memorial Forest, located south of Louisville in the Knobs region, the largest municipally run forest in the United States.
Green River Lake State Park, located in Taylor County.
Lake Cumberland, 1255 miles of shoreline located in South Central Kentucky.
Bardstown features a tourist attraction known as My Old Kentucky Dinner Train. Run along a 20-mile stretch of rail purchased from CSX in 1987, guests enjoy a four-course meal as they make a scenic two-and-a-half hour round trip between Bardstown and Limestone Springs. The Kentucky Railway Museum is located in nearby New Haven.
Louisville's Big Four Bridge rail trail is claimed to be the second longest pedestrian-only bridge in the world. The longest pedestrian-only bridge is also found in Kentucky the Purple People Bridge connecting Newport to Cincinnati, Ohio. These two Kentucky bridges will also be the only two pedestrian bridges in the United States connecting two states.
The Boy Scouts of America Scouting Museum is located on the campus of Murray State University.
To the west of Kentucky, Missouri can boast of having St Louis, home of the Gateway Arch and Union Station, a festive marketplace.
Riverboat casinos cruise the Ohio River north of Kentucky in Illinois and Indiana. Illinois is also the later day home of Abraham Lincoln (Springfield) and the fictional home of Superman (Metropolis). Indiana has several caves to visit and is rich in covered bridges. Ohio, also to the north, has no casinos, but does have the city of Cincinnati, home of Kings Island and the Bengals (NFL) and Reds (MLB).
To the east are the Virginias. West Virginia is the closest state with dog racing. It also has the New River Gorge Bridge one of the highest in the eastern US. Virginia has the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park.
Tennessee shares Kentucky's southern border. Here you'll find the Great Smoky Mountains, the music city of Nashville and Elvis' home in Memphis
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Cumberland Falls, Corbin, Kentucky
Regions Eastern Kentucky
North Central Kentucky
South Central Kentucky
Along with the interstates and parkways, Kentucky is served by many state and US routes:
KY 80 crosses the southern part of the state, linking Mayfield, Hopkinsville, Bowling Green, London and Pikeville.
US 27 runs from Covington south to Somerset.
US 127, also from Covington, runs through Frankfort, Danville and the Lake Cumberland area.
US 150 offers a connection between Louisville and I-75 between Lexington and Tennessee.
US 23 (Country Music Highway) connects Ashland with Virginia south of Pikeville.
US 60 bisects the state from the Mississippi River to Ashland, passing through Paducah, Henderson, Owensboro and Louisville before following I-64 the rest of its route.
Most of Kentucky is in the transition area between a humid subtropical climate and a humid continental climate, although the higher elevations clearly fall in the latter. Monthly average temperatures in Kentucky range from a high of 87.6 °Fahrenheit (30.9 °C) to a low of 23.1 °Fahrenheit (-4.9 °C) and averages 46 inches (116.84 cm) of precipitation a year. Kentucky experiences all four seasons, usually with striking variations in the severity of summer and winter from year to year. In fact, it is not unusual to see marked changes in temperature and weather conditions within the same day, leading many locals to observe, "If you don't like the weather, just wait a few hours and it will change."
The oldest continuously running horse race in the country is the Kentucky Derby and takes place at Churchill Downs in Louisville on the first Saturday in May.
The only city to be built within a crater in the U.S. is Middlesboro.
Two sisters from Louisville created the song "Happy Birthday to you" in 1893.
Sanders is home to the first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant owned and operated by Colonel Sanders.
Pikeville leads the nation in consumption of Pepsi-Cola per capita.
Post-It Notes are manufactured exclusively in Cynthiana. The exact number made annually of these popular notes is a trade secret.