Visiting Flat Lick, Kentucky

A Day Away By Mike Steely

Early settlers traveling along what would become the Boone Trace had several landmarks to encounter along the way down the Shenandoah Valley to Bean Station, north across Clinch Mountain to Cumberland Gap, and on north to cross at Cumberland Ford, now Pineville, Kentucky.

That old trail, formerly a Native American Warpath, continued north to a place called Flat Lick. There a large salt lick drew eons of wildlife and the Native Americans, travelers and settlers that hunted them.

The location was a noted resting place for travelers to stop before following the trail north to the Goose Creek Salt Works in Manchester, Kentucky, and northwest to Boonsboro and beyond. During the Civil War, many Union Army soldiers made camp at Flat Lick, including a “sick camp,” and several skirmishes were fought in the vicinity.

Today Flat Lick, Kentucky, is all but forgotten as roads have changed but the little community, located just off Highway 25 East near Barbourville, has a historic marker in a small park that commemorates Old Flat Lick and Concord Baptist Church in Flat Lick is said to be the oldest church in the Bluegrass State.

Flat Lick is about two hours north of Knoxville and there are several sites along the way that the family will enjoy including Lincoln Memorial University’s museum, the Coal House in Middlesboro, and the historic river crossing at Pine Mountain State Park. Historic downtown Barbourville and Union College are in the same county as Flat Lick – Knox County, Kentucky — and worth a visit. The Dr. Thomas Walker State Historic Site is also in Barbourville and features a reproduction of the first cabin built in Kentucky by the explorer.

You can visit Flat Lick and the little historic park by leaving Highway 25E and turning right, or east, onto Highway 3085, and you’ll pass the historic church and graveyard.

Want more information? Try  for the Knox County Historical Society located in nearby Barbourville.