By Mike Steely
If you are a history buff you might enjoy a day trip into Kentucky to the little town of Manchester. The town is special in many different ways. It’s not just the county seat of Clay County but Manchester was once, long ago, along the old Warrior’s Path Way.
That old pathway started as a game trail and was adopted by Native Americans and connected the Great Lakes to what is now the southern United States. Along that path early long hunters and explorers, including Daniel Boone, filtered into the Bluegrass State. Early settlers followed the path north through the Cumberland Gap to inhabit various parts of the region.
You may want to drive up 25E to Barbourville and take Highway 11 to Manchester, and if so, you’ll be traveling along the old Native American path. Or you may want to take I-75 to London and then take the Hal Rodgers Parkway east. There’s lots to see and visit along either way there and back.
The Warrior’s Path in what is now Manchester passed by the Goose Creek Salt Works where travelers boiled down brine waters and made salt. The salt works was vital to settlement for consumption and to preserve meat. The town was founded around a large salt manufacturing industry that developed there long before the Civil War.
Today the Goose Creek Salt Works Pioneer Village recreates the vital early settlement and the salt industry. It has various cabins from the era, a swinging bridge, picnic and rest stations, and a hiking path that extends to Rawlings Stinson Park.
The annual Saltworks Appalachian Homecoming festival is scheduled for May 23rd through the 25th at the pavilion in the park and features live Bluegrass music and family fun.
Another site you should visit is the Red Bird River Petroglyph. The huge boulder covered with unusual carvings and markings fell from atop a rock shelter onto Kentucky Highway 66 near Erline in 1994 and was moved to Manchester. Some claim the carvings were made by pre-Columbus Viking visitors and some believe the carvings were made by Native Americans.
Clay County also features more than a dozen swinging bridges and parks and a wildlife management area.
Along the way to or from Manchester you may want to check out the historic markers at Flat Lick near Barbourville. The London area features Levi Jackson State Park and Col Harlan Sander’s original restaurant. You can contact the Manchester-Clay County Visitor Center at 454 Manchester Square by calling or find the city and county on Facebook.
Taking the family or friends on an adventure can be fun and educational. Getting to know our area better is rewarding and entertaining.