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Traveler's Guide to Columbia and Adair County
It just doesn't get any better than this. Stop and sit a spell if you'd like to read more about this place called Columbia in south central Kentucky. . .
Columbia, Kentucky was founded in the year 1800 and is the County Seat of Adair County which was founded in 1801 as Kentucky's 44th County. Adair County, population 17,000+, has 407 sq. miles and is 31st in area among Kentucky's 120 counties.
Columbia is the only incorporated city in Adair County. It is very close to the geographic center of Kentucky -100 miles from Louisville; 100 miles from Lexington; 130 miles from Nashville, Tennessee; and 70 miles from Bowling Green on the Louie B. Nunn (former Cumberland) Parkway. It is a hub city with highways 80, 61 and 55 crossing here. Columbia is in the middle of Kentucky's finest waters - Lake Cumberland, Green River, Barren River, and Dale Hollow Lakes. Adair County, Kentucky is one of only four counties by that name in the entire United States.
This is a photographer's paradise. There's beautiful scenery to the West, memorable old Columbia to the north. Wonderful steeples and towers, beautiful churches magnificent old homes, and gorgeous countryside draw photographers to the area. The dairyland and farms are beautiful. Historic sites and unmatched streams are everywhere. Farm and forests offer still more picture-taking opportunities. Over 50% of the land area of Adair County is forested.
Most of the rest is devoted to dairy and beef cattle, tobacco, and grassland for hay and pasture. The terrain of Adair County is varied, ranging from river bottomland to gently rolling hills and steep inclines. It is one of the most heavily forested counties in the state. Timber here consists mainly of hardwoods such as oak, hickory and ash, and softwoods such as cedar and pine. Industries range from wood products and forestry to milk production, biomed, precision machine manufacturing, oil production to printing and publishing. Special things to note when you pass this way include:
Columbia has a 2,600-foot airport. The nearest scheduled commercial airline service is at Louisville International, 97 miles northwest of Columbia. CSX Transportation provides the nearest rail service at Glasgow, Ky., 37 miles west.
This is your headquarters for the South Central Kentucky Water Wonderland. In Columbia you are 8 miles from Green River Lake, 21 miles from Lake Cumberland, 42 miles from Barren River Reservoir, and 39 miles from Dale Hollow Lake. A growing number of water sports enthusiasts are using Columbia as a staging area for outings, Columbia's unmatched range of restaurants, and the easy access to roads.
Lindsey Wilson College is a four-year liberal arts institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Travelers are drawn to the unique Begley Chapel which was designed by America's leading chapel architect, E. Fay Jones, a student of the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The lighted crown is visible for miles. In winter, it dominates the skyline. The crown's intricate ironwork offers endless possibilities for photographers in the daytime, as the sun creates an infinite program of patterns. Visitors are welcome.
The Trabue-Russell House is a restored historical residence open for touring by appointment by calling the Chamber of Commerce at 270-384-6020. Adair County is steeped in literary history. Mark Twains mother, Jane Lampton, was born in Columbia and his parents were married in the city. Spout Springs, the home of Kentucky writers Henry and Janice Holt Giles, is restored as a writers' retreat and is open to the public. It's always a beautiful sight, but call ahead if you want to go inside the writers' retreat. Between the two, the Gileses wrote 24 books, all of which are now highly collectible. Most of them were written in Adair County. Capwell Wyckoff, author of the Mercer Boys adventure series, served as a pastor in Columbia. Famed writer and television star Byron Crawford owns land in Adair County. Theodore O'Hara wrote one stanza of Bivouac of the Dead in Columbia. Noted Adair County authors include Christopher Rowe, Chester Young, Hudson Willis, Minnie Rubarts, Garnett Young, Ruth Burdette and N.B. Montgomery, Dr. Jann Aaron, David Hunter, Michael Watson, Dianne Watkins, Robin Halcomb, Yolanda Oostens, Beverly England and Dr. Morris Grubbs.
For a scenic loop, take Highway 55 to Highway 704, go south on 704 to Highway 61, then right, north on Highway 61 through Breeding, Sparksville and Flatwoods, back to Columbia. There's gorgeous scenery, beautiful hills and streams, wildflowers galore, and one might encounter wild turkeys and deer, and even occasionally see, overhead, hawks, owls, and even eagles.
There are two Amish communities in Adair County. One is located in the north end of the county, largely on KY 206, on the Adair-Casey County line. The other community is located on the west side of the county, around Gradyville on West KY 80. Travelers should watch for their horse drawn buggies and for the heavy pedestrian traffic in Amish Country.
Columbia is in the middle of the Cumberland Parkway, at Exit 49. The Cumberland Parkway, by Act of Congress, is to be part of the new Route 66, or I-66, reaching from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles. The road lacks only the stretches from Somerset-to-D.C. and from Bon Ayr-to-L.A. to be a complete transcontinental super highway.
Adair Countians take pride in a long tradition of hospitality, so expect uncommonly accommodating folk when you stop here. Costs are low. Quality of life is high. Food is good.
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This story was posted on 2003-07-01 09:05:55
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