As the last of the Shakers left their central-Kentucky village — or died — in the early 1900s, their village fell into private hands and became known as Shakertown. Some buildings were given new uses, others were left to rot.
The same kind of determination and hard work the Shakers put into building their village went into restoring it. Some buildings were beyond saving, and some were already gone, but those that remain are a living look back into this religious sect and its way of life. Read a little bit about their history here.
Today, just some photographs of horses we met while at Shaker Village. I have little experience with horses. When I was a boy I sat on one once. We were on some farm for some reason and the farmer had a truly enormous horse. I was hoisted up onto its back, and was slightly frightened by the height. I suspect this has shaped my attitude towards these beasts ever since.
But the fellow in the first photograph below sauntered right up to me and with the greatest gentleness used his muzzle to unfold my left hand to see if anything was in it for him. There wasn’t, but he seemed not in the least disturbed. He hung out with Margaret and me for a few minutes and then went on to grazing the grass.
Cooper’s Shop Pentax K10D, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SMC Pentax-DA AL 2019
As we packed to leave for Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill I considered which film camera I should take along. I still have 43 of them to choose from (full list here). It’s often hard to choose, and it was especially so this time for some reason.
I decided not to dither, and instead packed my digital Pentax K10D DSLR with its 18-55mm zoom.
The K10D was introduced in 2006, and the DSLR state of the art has advanced considerably since then. My wife’s six-year-newer Nikon D3200 can get some photos my K10D can’t, primarily in dim light. A couple of my dim-light shots would have been wonderful had they been less noisy and had I been able to choose a higher ISO for a faster shutter speed and less risk of shake.
But the vast majority of photos I make with the K10D are in good light, where the camera performs perfectly well. I love the warmth it captures.
Whenever Margaret and I visit central Kentucky, we’re struck by how much the land reminds us of Ireland. Especially when we drive the narrow back roads, the rolling hills and low stone border walls transport us right back to Eire.
Small wonder: those low stone walls were first built in the early 1800s by Irish immigrants. They are simply stacked Kentucky limestone; no mortar holds them together. Unfortunately, the Irish taught slaves how to build these dry stone walls, and it’s estimated that 90% of the walls that still stand were slave-built.
The other common fence in Kentucky is the four-board wood fence. Most of the ones we saw around Shaker Village were white.
This is horse country, and those fences are often meant to keep the horses in. Notice that this fence is black.
Kentucky farmers are learning that black is more cost effective: the paint is less expensive and needs to be reapplied less often. So expect to see more and more of these fences painted black over time.
But for now, at Shaker Village the majority of wood fencing is still painted white. With the abundant dry stone walls, the grounds ooze that classic, charming central-Kentucky look.
My camera’s battery died just a few photographs into our tour of the Woodford Reserve Distillery, between Frankfort and Versailles in central Kentucky. It’s a shame, because the place is so picturesque. I would have liked to photograph it extensively.
The distillery is also historic, one of the oldest in Kentucky. Known previously as the Labrot and Graham Distillery and before that the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery, whiskey has been made here since 1812. Woodford Reserve is a Johnny-come-lately on the scene, having been distilled only since 1996.
Thanks to my iPhone for making it possible to document this visit at all. Here are Woodford Reserve’s famous copper pot stills, and also my wife Margaret from behind.
Those pot stills make up only part of Woodford Reserve bourbon. The rest of it comes from the column stills of the Brown-Forman distillery in suburban Louisville, an hour to the west.
Its rickhouse, where the bourbon barrels are left to age, is unusual in that it’s made of stone. So many are made of wood.
One odd thing I noticed is that barrels in the rickhouse, the ones I could see anyway, carried distillery number DSP-KY-52. But newer barrels, including ones recently filled, bore the number DSP-KY-15018. This must be something quite new, as an Internet search on DSP-KY-15018 turns up nothing. A search on DSP-KY-52 returns all sorts of references to the Woodford Reserve Distillery. I wish I’d asked the tour guide about it.
As a fellow who is seriously into bourbon, I appreciate a bar with a wide selection that includes some esoteric whiskies. But Woodford Reserve is a very nice bourbon, and most every bar carries it. Anywhere I go, I’m perfectly happy with a pour of Woodford Reserve. Neat, of course.
Nestled amid the rolling hills of central Kentucky, 25 miles southwest of Lexington, you’ll find a village built and occupied by members of the Shaker religious sect from 1805 to 1910. Many of the buildings they built still stand, most of them in restored condition. It’s a remarkable collection of structures, suggesting a large and vibrant community. Here are many of the doors from Shaker Village. It’s a tourist destination today; where you see Open signs on the doors, it means visitors are invited in to wander and explore.