October, 2017 – Moorehead, Kentucky

Our trip southwest from Ohio into Kentucky was mostly along I-64, so the drive was quite pleasant, even though it was still very wet from all the rain the week before.  From the Forest Service Campground in Ohio, I had planned to stay at another Forest Service Campground in Boone National Forest named Zilpo campground near Moorehead, Kentucky.  It was too late in the season to make a reservation at Zilpo, so we were fairly certain we would be able to get a campsite for the week since we would be arriving on Monday.  However, when the GPS suddenly warned us there was 8 miles of dirt road on our route once we left the interstate and the roads back into the campground on a peninsula of a large lake, I began to get worried.  What with the recent rains, I was not comfortable with trusting the RV on 8 miles of dirt roads deep in the woods with likely no place to get turned around if we got into trouble.  Since we did not have reservations anyway, we decided to look for other options.  We passed a sign for an RV park called Outpost Campground along US 60 and decided to pull around in an abandoned gas station to check it out.  Although it looked old with a lot of old seasonal RVs that had better days, we figured we had stayed in worse places.  Thankfully, they eventually determined there was a pull-through site we could use for the week and thankfully it was not in the swampy area of the campground.  It turned out to be a large pull-through site with full hookups (50 amps) that had been used previously by a long term camper.  Still it was easy enough to get into once Kal decided the truck could pull the RV through the mud as it cut the turn onto the gravel on the site.  The only drawback was the placement of the water hookup, which was on the wrong side of the RV.  We were sharing the hookup with the seasonal camper next to us and there was already a long hose attached to our hookup, which had to run under the camper.  The only problem was that the hookup was too close to the side of our RV and initially the slide out on that side ran into it before it was fully extended.  This is the first time this had ever happened on that side of the RV.  So we had to hook up the truck again and push the RV back until it cleared.  We would just have to be careful when we exited the RV no to run into the post, especially at night.  The other drawback was they had placed us as far away from the office as possible, which meant the walk to the bathroom was further then normal.  Like the rest of the campground, the bathrooms were old, but reasonably clean and we have certainly stayed at worst.  It was also amusing to look at the extensive decorations they were constructing for Halloween.  Around the back of the restrooms and up the backside they had created a series of “scary” scenes with numerous mannequins in all kinds of state of gore with appropriate painted backdrops and artifacts.  It was going to be a great show for this RV park out in the country.  I don’t know what else they had planned for Halloween, but it was obvious they took it VERY seriously.

We really did not have anything planned to do in the area, so we spent the next couple of days in the campground.  With good TV reception and a good free Wi-Fi connection, we were well entertained.  However, by Thursday I just had to get out so I convinced Kal to travel close to Lexington to Fort Boonesborough State Park.  As the name implies, this was the original fort established by Daniel Boone when he opened up Kentucky to settlers in 1775 by establishing the Wilderness Trail through the Cumberland Gap.  This fort was built for two purposes.  First, it was the initial home for new settlers as they located suitable land, built their own homes, cleared the fields, and planted their first crop.  Consequently, the Fort was essentially a series of small one-room homes set out in a rectangle with wooden stockades between the homes and blockhouses at each corner.  They have reconstructed the fort from old drawings and it is very strange looking.  Most of the walls are the back walls of the homes with horizontally placed logs.  Between the homes are vertical logs forming the palisade.  Inside the fort is also strange as you don’t find normal structures for a community, such as a store, church, or storehouses.  Instead all you see are a blacksmith shop and gunpowder magazine in the center of the fort and small homes around the outside.  Other structures would be built outside the fort as the second purpose of the fort was for defense against the Indians when needed.  For the next couple of years, Daniel Boone was in command of the fort with the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in the east.  For the most part, the Revolutionary War had very little impact on the settlers except for the fact the British were supplying weapons and supplies to the Native Americans to raid the Kentucky settlements.  Most of these raids consisted of destroying crops with the hope of starving out the settlers.  Consequently, food was getting scarce during the winter of 1777-1778.  In January, Boone led a party of 30 men to the salt springs on the Lick River to obtain much needed salt to preserve what they had left.  Boone and the entire party was captured by Chief Blackfish of the Shawnee Indians.  While most of the men were sent on to Fort Detroit for the British bounty, Boone and a few others were adopted into the tribe, which was a common practice to replace fallen warriors.  Supposedly, Boone was well treated and spent the rest of the winter with the tribe in Ohio at their camp at Chiilicothe.  However, in June when Boone learned of their plans to attack Fort Boonesborough he escaped and went to warn them.  Since he had surrendered his men to the Indians and was subsequently adopted by them, the general belief was that he had changed loyalties and now supported the British.  Consequently, his wife and family had been forced to move back to North Carolina and he was no longer in command of the fort.  So when Blackfish finally showed up with a sizable force of Indians in September, the fort was ready for them.  After a failed attempt at negotiations with the Indians the fort was under siege for the next 8 days.  The attacking Indians had no cannon to destroy the fort, so they attempted to burn it down with torches.  However, they were easy targets for the defending men in the fort and heavy fall rains hampered their efforts.  Although Boone was found innocent of charges of treason for his time with the Indians, he left to get his family from North Carolina and established a new settlement away from the fort known as Boone Station.

Although I was disappointed that the reconstructed fort is only close to the original location, which is still a matter of debate about its exact location, they have done a wonderful job in the reconstruction.  While some of the homes are on display as they would have been used at the time, most of them are now working places for local artisans.  We were surprised to find many of these artisans to be working during the week in mid-October, until we realized it is a popular place for school field trips.  Once the grade school classes left after noon, we had the run of the place pretty much to ourselves.  We really enjoyed spending time with the various artisans that included a weaver, a soap maker, a candle make, a leather worker, and a gunsmith.  Or at least Kal really enjoyed this, as I ended up spending most of my time in their museum in one of the blockhouses.  They had quite a few exhibits and a lot to read about the history of the fort beginning with the reasons why opening up Kentucky to settlement was so important to the early settlers.  Land was becoming scarce east of the Appalachians and much of the land had been overused for agriculture as well.  Instead of dividing up the land to the children, it was again becoming common to pass all the land to the oldest as it had been dome for centuries in Europe.  Thus there was a growing demand for new land to settle west of the Appalachians.  Land speculators such as the Transylvania Company that hired Daniel Boone to open the Wilderness Road were big business.

The rest of the week and the weekend were fairly boring as we spent time doing laundry, cleaning the camper, and playing on our devices with the free internet.  We did not even leave the campground to watch the Auburn football game, as the Auburn-LSU game was on CBS which we watched over the airways.  I should also mention that the weather stayed wet with two more cold fronts during the week that brought showers and temperatures at night into the 40s.  Hopefully, this weather will convince the trees that it is fall and we can see some serious fall colors over the next few weeks.

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