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A state in east central United States; one of the Confederate states during the American Civil War; famous for breeding race horses; Also called: Bluegrass State.
State in S central US; nicknamed Bluegrass State
area 104,700 sq km/40,414 sq mi
towns and cities Louisville, Lexington, Owensboro, Covington, Bowling Green
features Ohio and Kentucky rivers; Cumberland Gap national park; Daniel Boone national forest; Red River Gorge; the Bluegrass, center of racehorse breeding, with over 400 horse farms, including Calumet, Spendthrift, Normany; the mansion at Manchester said to be the inspiration for Tara in Gone with the Wind; Breaks Interstate Park; Mammoth Cave national park (main cave 6.5 km/4 mi long, up to 38 m/125 ft high, where Native American councils were once held); parks landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted, including Shawnee Park; Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace at Hodgenville; Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Harrodsburg; Louisville, with 19th-century cast-iron architecture in West Main Street (including the Hart Block, 1884), Jefferson County Courthouse (1835), the Cathedral of the Assumption (1849–52), Farmington (1810, designed by Thomas Jefferson), the Cherokee Triangle (large houses built 1870–1910), the American Life and Accident Building (1973, designed by Mies van der Rohe), the Humana Building (1985), and the
Kentucky Derby Museum; Bardstown, the Colonial mansion visited by Stephen Foster 1852, site of his song ‘My Old Kentucky Home’; Gratz Park historic district in Lexington, with two houses from 1814; Transylvania University (1780), the first college to be founded W of the Alleghenies; the Kentucky Derby, run at Churchill Downs, Louisville; Fort Knox, the US gold bullion depository; Maker’s Mark Distillery; Jim Beam American Outpost Museum, with a collection of Jim Beam bourbon decanters; the Floral Clock outside the state capitol at Frankfort
industries tobacco, cereals, textiles, coal, whiskey, horses, transport vehicles
famous people Mohammed Ali, Daniel Boone, Louis D Brandeis, Kit Carson, Henry Clay, D W Griffith, Thomas Hunt Morgan, Harland “Colonel” Sanders, Robert Penn Warren
history Kentucky was the first region W of the Alleghenies settled by American pioneers. James Harrod founded Harrodsburg 1774; in 1775 Daniel Boone, who blazed his Wilderness Trail 1767, founded Boonesboro. Originally part of Virginia, Kentucky became a state 1792. Badly divided over the slavery question, the state was racked by guerrilla warfare and partisan feuds during the Civil War.
In 1900, Kentucky ranked first among Southern states in per-capita income, but wealth was divided unevenly, and the Great Depression of the 1930s hit hard; by 1940, Kentucky was last among states in per-capita income. Although it remains one of the poorest states, better roads, education, television, and government programs have relieved the isolation of its rural communities.