Bardstown, located about 45 miles south of Louisville in Nelson County, Kentucky, was chartered in 1790 after a land grant was given to brothers David and William Bard by the governor of Virginia. Bardstown served as one of the first four Catholic Archdioceses in the United States, and the entirety of the downtown Frankfort area is an historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bardstown features a number of notable historic sites. St. Joseph's Basilica was built in 1816, and was the first church built west of the Allegheny Mountains. The Old Talbott Tavern, located in the center of Bardstown and built in 1779, hosted historic figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Boone, Jesse James, George Rogers Clark, and the exiled King Louis-Philippe of France. Bardstown is also home to the Federal Hill Mansion and My Old Kentucky Home State Park, which inspired Stephen Foster to write the ever-popular song "My Old Kentucky Home."
Today, Bardstown is considered the "Bourbon Capital Of The World"; a large number of fine bourbon distillers are based in and around Bardstown, including Jim Beam, Four Roses, Maker's Mark, and Heaven Hill distilleries. Bardstown also hosts the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, a gathering of thousands of people from around the world to celebrate Kentucky's heritage of handcrafting bourbon. The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, chronicling the history of whiskey in America from the Colonial period until the 1960s, is also located in Bardstown.
Bardstown houses a large Civil War Museum, which contains a complete Civil War museum dedicated to the Western Theater, a pioneer village, a women's Civil War museum, the War Memorial of Mid-America, and a wildlife museum. Bernheim Forest is another popular Bardstown attraction and encompasses over 14,000 acres of land, picnic areas, hiking trails, a nature center and lakes. Bardstown also offers a number of popular paranormal ghost tours at the historic Old Talbott Tavern and Wickland, the home of three former Kentucky governors.
Written by Matt Stottmann