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.

Stone house
House
House
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
Houses
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
House
House

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

Preservation

The simple architecture of Shaker Village

A photo tour of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in central Kentucky, focusing on the many buildings that still stand there.

Image
Travel

A visit to Woodford Reserve Distillery

Woodford Reserve Distillery

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.

Woodford Reserve Distillery

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.

Woodford Reserve Distillery

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.

Woodford Reserve Distillery

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.

Woodford Reserve Distillery

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.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe!

Standard
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill

Early evening at Shaker Village
Pentax K10D, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SMC Pentax-DA AL
2019

Margaret and I get away four times a year for a long weekend, usually in March, June, September, and December. Margaret started a new job recently and its demands will sadly keep us from our usual December visit to Chicago. To compensate we made two trips this summer, one to her hometown of St. Charles, Illinois, a few weeks ago, and one to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky over Labor Day weekend.

I’ll share more from Shaker Hill in posts to come, but in short the Shaker religious sect arrived here in 1805 and built quite a village of stone, brick, and wood frame buildings. They were innovative, building a system of running water throughout the village; the yellow buildings on the right were part of that system. They also lived communally; the stone building was one of three major houses the people lived in.

Today it’s a tourist destination with lodging on site. We stayed in a room in what had once been the East Family Wash House. The houses were named for their relative geographic location in the village, the people who lived in each house were called a family, and each family had a building in which they did their laundry. Innovatively, their laundry facility was horse powered, reducing the human manual labor of washing all those clothes and linens!

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.

Photography

single frame: Early evening at Shaker Village

.

Image
Travel

A visit to Old Forester Distillery

Old Forester Distillery Tour

Margaret and I have been to enough bourbon distilleries now to know the drill: first the vats of sour mash, then the still(s), then the rickhouses where the bourbon ages in barrels, then the tasting. Up to now, it’s always all been in a pastoral setting among Kentucky’s gently rolling hills. But the Old Forester Distillery is different: it’s in downtown Louisville.

You’ll find a few other distilleries up and down Main Street and on adjacent blocks, making downtown Louisville a burgeoning whiskey center. It was one before Prohibition, but that misstep in American history decimated Kentucky’s whiskey industry and sent many distillers into bankruptcy.

For a long time Old Forester was distilled and bottled at a facility just outside Louisville proper. But there’s gold in them thar whikey-tourism hills and Old Forester led the way in returning to Louisville’s famous Whiskey Row. Stepping onto this street feels very much like returning to 1870.

Old Forester Distillery Tour

Little of the original building remains behind its facade. This is a modern facility through and through. Every bit of it is tourist-friendly.

Old Forester Distillery Tour

Here we are peering into one of the vats of fermenting sour mash. It looks like a giant corn muffin.

Old Forester Distillery Tour

Here’s one of the vats, empty, ready for a new batch.

Old Forester Distillery Tour

Old Forester’s parent company, Brown-Forman, is the last independently-owned distiller in the nation. They own a whole bunch of liquor brands, including Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve. Brown-Forman is further unique in that they own their own cooperage — they make their own barrels. The main cooperage is elsewhere in Kentucky, but for us tourists a cooper makes a few barrels at the Old Forester site.

Old Forester Distillery Tour

To be considered a bourbon, a whiskey must be made of at least 51% corn and must be aged in new barrels made of oak and charred inside. Here’s a barrel getting its char.

Old Forester Distillery Tour

After the whiskey has been distilled, it’s clear, essentially moonshine. They pour it into a barrel, seal it with a bung, and let it age in a warehouse. To be a bourbon, it must age for at least two years. Here a barrel is being emptied, on its way to being bottled.

Old Forester Distillery Tour

Here’s the Old Forester bottling machine, doing its stuff.

Old Forester Distillery Tour

Every bourbon distillery tour ends with tasting some of the product. Old Forester uses the same sour mash mixture to make a number of bourbons, including their original 86-proof bourbon (left). They age their distillate in different ways and for different lengths of time to get their other bourbons, including Old Forester 1897 (center) and Old Forester 1920 (right).

Old Forester Distillery Tour

The folks at Old Forester kept the tour fun and quick, and at $18 per adult it’s not terribly expensive. If ever you’re on Whiskey Row, do step inside.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe!

Standard

While Margaret and I stood on the bridge overlooking the Fox River in St. Charles, this man and boy waded out into the river and started fishing.

Fishin'

I zoomed my lens in as far as it would go, but the pair were still mighty small. So I put them more-or-less on rule-of-thirds lines and bathed them in context.

Fishin'

In my 52 years I’ve never watched anyone wade out into the middle of a river in a city’s downtown to fish.

Fishin'

As you can see, it’s easy enough to do in St. Charles: just ease down the stairs from the Municipal Center with your gear and step in.

Fishin'

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.

Photography

Fishin’

Just a man and boy fishing, in the middle of a river, in a city’s downtown. How improbable!

Image
Muncipal Building

St. Charles Municipal Center
Pentax K10D, 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SMC Pentax-DA AL
2019

This dramatic Art Deco/Art Moderne structure really stands out on the main street in downtown St. Charles, Illinois. It stands right on the east bank of the Fox River. You can follow a path down the left side of the building and walk along the river’s edge.

St. Charles is charming. If you’re even in the far west Chicago suburbs, it’s worth visiting. They’ve made a lot of their frontage of the Fox River downtown, and there’s plenty to see and do on the main street.

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.

Photography, Preservation

single frame: St. Charles Municipal Center

.

Image