One of the great pleasures of any trip is taking the time to really look at the places of the past and thinking about what came before.
An old family cemetery, an old schoolhouse, an old tobacco barn all have personal histories and stories to tell. Gathering only a few facts about the place can bring many possible scenarios to mind and make for an imaginative and enjoyable day in the country.
In Kentucky, like so many Southern states, many such places to pause and contemplate the years gone by exist to help in this pastime.
For instance, when you drive east out of Harrodsburg on the way to Lexington on Hwy. 68, you’ll come to a turn off that will take you to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Shakertown at Pleasant Hill Historic District http://www.shakervillageky.org/. Shakertown is a national historic landmark. The Shaker religious sect began building this working agricultural community in 1805. As a living museum it affords the visitor a look into a community that served both its God and its neighbors.
This austere group built to last and formed a movement in the furniture industry that continues to hold its design integrity over a century later.
Whether on a snowy day surrounded by thoughts of winter’s long quiet slumber, or on a spring-time stroll for peace and meditation, this site can give the visitor an opportunity to take the measure of personal dreams and aspirations. There’s nothing like wandering in solitude along the edge of a pond to freshen one’s perspective.
Driving along country roads gives the visitor an opportunity to question the past. An old wooden building, falling apart at the corners and listing to one side: what had it been when first built? In this case, according to locals, it had been a Juke Joint with live music and dancing and revelry, frequented by African-Americans living in the area.
Scenarios fit for a Steampunk novel can be brought to bear when looking at a vintage steam-powered driver pushed to the side and waiting for restoration.
The worse-for-wear home sitting close to the downtown area of a small community waits for someone to care for it again. Who used to live here? One local looked at the house and reminisced about her favorite teacher when she’d attended the local school 60 years prior. The house had been grand and inviting to students and their families. The teacher had long ago gone to her rest, but the house still stood testament to her life and her impact.
Sometimes looking at the past that belonged to others gives us the ability to look at our own and assess it with a fresher perspective and a more objective take on our own impact in this world. It allows us to see things in “A Wonderful Life” kind of way and helps us to place priorities for the future.