Civil War Fort at Boonesboro

In 1998, The Winchester-Clark County Tourism Commission was introduced to a historical treasure hidden within the hills of the palisades on the banks of the Kentucky River.  Jerry Raisor, curator of the Kentucky River Museum at Fort Boonesborough State Park, informed the Winchester-Clark County Tourism Commission of remnants of a Civil War earthen work fortification that over looked the Kentucky River at Boonesboro.  Raisor, a Civil War enthusiast, encouraged the Commission to purchase, preserve, and interpret the site for the purpose of tourism development.

The Tourism Commission partnered with the Clark County Fiscal Court to obtain funding through grants and other economic resources and purchased the 26 acre tract in 1999.  The Commission hired Mudpuppy and Waterdog, a historical research firm, to complete a Management and Interpretation plan for the site; listed the fort on the National Register of Historic Places, and applied for numerous grants to assist with the development and interpretation of the site. The Civil War Fort at Boonesboro opened to the general public in July 2005.

According to historical Civil War documents, controlling access to the major crossing points of the Kentucky River became an important part of the strategy of the Union army in late 1862 and early 1863.  In the spring of 1863, construction was begun on a fort overlooking the Kentucky River in Frankfort and above the important river crossing at Boonesborough.  Although the fort never mounted permanent artillery, the enclosed earthen fort continued to be used when Confederate cavalry periodically threatened.  However, the grand design for the defense of the Kentucky River envisioned by the Union army was eventually abandoned.

Today, visitors are invited to embark on a ½ mile scenic nature trail on a road that was constructed and once used by Union Soldiers.  The road was used as a major access route to the fortification stationed just above the hill.  Soldiers brought construction materials, supplies, tools, and food up the arduous terrain by constructing switchbacks that were designed to decrease the grueling grade of the road.

Walking along the self-guided trail, visitors are greeted with interpretive signs that tell not only the history of the fort and the Civil War, but a history of the overall area including the early settlements, geology, geography and more.  Remnants of the fortification walls and trenches overlook a picturesque view of the Kentucky River as visitors are able to stand within the walls of the once occupied Union fort.

Since opening in 2005, visitors from across the nation have visited the once abandoned fort.  With easy access granted from Interstate-75, many visitors from around the country make a side-trip to enjoy an historic hike on a shaded wooded trail.  For guest accommodation, amenities have been added including a restroom and shaded picnic area at the top of the hill for visitor enjoyment.

For additional information about the site, please contact the Winchester-Clark County Tourism Commission at (800) 298-9105 or visit http://www.civilwarfortatboonesboro.com.

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