Kentucky is one of the border states that lie between the North and the South of the United
States. Its long northern border is formed by the Ohio River, one of the traditional boundaries between the Northern States
and the Southern States. Kentucky also forms a link between two of the great land features of the United States. Its eastern
border touches the Appalachian Mountains. About 350 miles (563 kilometers) to the west, Kentucky touches the Mississippi River.
Tobacco and champion race horses have long been symbols of Kentucky. Thoroughbred race horses still graze on the lush grass
of the region around Lexington, in central Kentucky. The region is known for the bluish grass blossoms that give Kentucky
the nickname the Bluegrass State. Each May, huge crowds thrill to the excitement of the country's most famous horse
race, the Kentucky Derby, held at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Kentucky is also an important center of agriculture and mining. It leads the states in the production of burley tobacco,
and it ranks second only to North Carolina in total tobacco production. Kentucky is a leading coal-producing state. Coal is
mined in Kentucky's eastern Appalachian counties and in western Kentucky. In addition, the state is the leading U.S. producer
of bourbon whiskey.
Some of the nation's most popular tourist attractions are in Kentucky. They include Cumberland Falls, Mammoth Cave, Natural
Bridge, and Land Between the Lakes. Most of the nation's gold reserves are stored in the depository at Fort Knox, which is
south of Louisville.
A group of colonists from Pennsylvania established the first permanent white settlement in what is now Kentucky in 1774.
Kentucky became the 15th state of the Union in 1792. During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Kentucky stayed in the Union,
but thousands of Kentuckians joined the Confederate armies. Several Civil War battles took place in Kentucky. Abraham Lincoln
and Jefferson Davis, the opposing presidents in the Civil War, both were born in Kentucky, less than 100 miles (160 kilometers)
In 1900, an assassin's bullet killed the governor of Kentucky, William Goebel, and Kentucky nearly had a civil war of its
own. A few years later, conflict did occur in parts of the state. From 1904 to 1909, Kentucky farmers fought a group of tobacco
firms in what became known as the Tobacco Wars.
Kentucky got its name from a Cherokee Indian word whose possible meanings include Land of Tomorrow and Meadowland.
It is one of four U.S. states officially called Commonwealths. The others are Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Kentucky was named a commonwealth to honor Virginia, which owned the region before Kentucky became a state.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT KENTUCKY
|The Mammoth-Flint Ridge cave system, located entirely within Kentucky, is the longest known cave system in the
world. The system is more than 300 miles (483 kilometers) long. It includes the famous Mammoth Cave and is part of Mammoth
Cave National Park.|
|The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuously run horse race in the United States. The first Derby was run in 1875
as part of the program for the opening of Churchill Downs race track in Louisville. Now, each May, thousands of trackside
spectators and millions of television viewers watch the "run for the roses"—the blanket of roses presented to the winning
horse and jockey.|
|The gold depository at Fort Knox contains more than $6 billion in gold bullion. The bullion, placed in the vaults
of the depository by the U.S. Treasury Department, represents nearly all of the gold owned by the U.S. government.|
|Kentucky tobacco growers lead the world in the production of burley tobacco, a ranking they have held for more
than 100 years. Burley tobacco was first grown in Kentucky during the 1860's.|
|The world's first free-flowing oil well was drilled near Burkesville, Ky., in 1829. Before that, people generally
recovered oil only when it seeped through the ground or accidentally gushed from salt wells. Oddly, the Burkesville oil was
never collected. It flowed unused into the nearby Cumberland River.|