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Guthrie, KY receives $600,000 for museum, welcome center

Transportation Enhancement grant helps Guthrie, KY, 124 miles west of Columbia, KY, to mark home of one of nations='s literary giants, Robert Penn Warren

News from Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

GUTHRIE, KY - Gov. Steve Beshear today visited Guthrie to present highway signs marking the city as birthplace of one of the nation's literary giants, Robert Penn Warren.

"Robert Penn Warren left an imprint on the world of literature that will forever mark his place in history," Gov. Beshear said. "And like the lofty contributions of his pen, he lives indelibly in Guthrie's history."

Warren was born in Guthrie, nestled along the Tennessee border in southern Todd County, on April 24, 1905. A graduate of the Guthrie School, Clarksville (TN) High School and Vanderbilt University, he later studied at the University of California, Yale University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford College. Named the first Poet Laureate of the United States in 1986, Warren also won three Pulitzer Prizes for two volumes of poetry and a novel. He died in 1989.

"This signage is not only to call attention to Kentucky's greatest writer, but is a salute to the fine people of Guthrie and Todd County. They have done such a great job down through the years to preserve and protect his home place. In doing so, they have preserved a valuable landmark for all Kentuckians," Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham said.

References to Guthrie's landscape and historical elements are woven into Warren's numerous poems, short stories and his first published novel, "Night Riders," which described the turmoil of the tobacco wars of the early 20th century in western Kentucky.

"This project will enhance tourism attractions and spur economic development in Todd County for many years into the future. Tourism dollars are important because those dollars are new in the community," said Sen. Joey Pendleton, of Hopkinsville. "Research shows that every dollar spent by a tourist turns over seven times in the community. Tourists spend money at gas stations, hotels, restaurants and other businesses; those businesses then spend it at other businesses, and the money continues to turn over."

Gov. Beshear unveiled a sample of the new signs at Warren's birthplace home, at 122 Cherry St., in Guthrie. The directional signs denote the "Birthplace of Robert Penn Warren" and will be posted 15 miles east and west of Guthrie on US 68.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation also installed similar signs along the Kentucky/Tennessee border on highways US 41 and US 79.

"I am very thankful to Justice Bill Cunningham who has worked diligently to promote the birthplace of Robert Penn Warren, and is a studied expert on much of the history in Todd County," said Rep. Martha Jane King, of Lewisburg. "The new highway signs will bring visitors to our area to enjoy the history of Guthrie and one of its most famous citizens."

The Robert Penn Warren Home, Third and Cherry Streets, Guthrie, KY, is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday from 11:30am to 3:30pmCT and on Sunday from 2-4pmCT. For more information about the home, contact Jeane Moore at (270) 483-2683.

Governor presents Transportation Enhancement funding

Gov. Beshear also presented $600,000 in federal Transportation Enhancement funding for the Guthrie Historic Transportation Museum and Welcome Center project.

"Once completed, the Guthrie Historic Transportation Museum and Welcome Center will attract nationwide visitors to explore Guthrie's historic community," Gov. Beshear said. "This funding will help preserve and highlight various important periods of American history."

The project includes funding to restore the Jenkins Building into an 8,000-square-foot museum dedicated to the transportation history of the community. The museum will also serve as a welcome center for those entering Kentucky on the National Trail of Tears Route, and its many exhibits will include artifacts from the Trail of Tears.

Known as the "Crossroads of the South," Guthrie was home to many 19th century stage coach lines and historic railways. The city is named in honor of James Guthrie, who was president of the University of Louisville, Treasury secretary under President Franklin Pierce, president of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad and U.S. senator from Kentucky.

Transportation Enhancements are transportation-related activities designed to strengthen the cultural, aesthetic, historic and environmental aspects of Kentucky's transportation infrastructure. Federal funding is available to government agencies to provide support for transportation and community improvement projects. TE funding is administered by the Transportation Cabinet.Information about Transportation Enhancement (TE), Congestion Mitigation, Safe Routes to Schools, Scenic Byways and Highways, and Transportation Community and System Preservation, is available at Kentucky Transportation Office of Local Programs.

This story was posted on 2010-04-01 06:57:11
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