Click on each icon below to learn more about the rich hemp history rooted at the site, or check out the featured trail location descriptions below. Be sure to check out specific site hours and tour availability before your travels!
FEATURED TRAIL SITES
Built for John and Lucy Speed, Farmington was completed in 1816. The Historic Home was the center of a thriving 550 acre hemp plantation that was sustained by nearly 60 enslaved African Americans who lived in cabins on the property.
Once upon a time, a Historical Marker #1320 stood at the entrance to KY 714 off US 60. The marker described how Shelby County was once one of the chief hemp producing counties in the state, however, it did not explain the significance of the road itself.
(3) FRANKLIN COUNTY HEMP
Historical Marker #1164 in Frankfort recognizes the former site of the Kentucky River Mills and Franklin County Hemp history. The Kentucky
River Mills (KRM) was formed June 25, 1878.
Located on lock #4 of the Kentucky River, KRM rented the property from the state of Kentucky.
Construction began in 1878 and was completed in 1879. The company began by producing hemp yarn for Brussel Carpets, and manufactured hemp rope as a sideline. Due to demand, KRM switched to producing only hemp twine in 1880.
According to this historical marker, McAfee Company and Hancock Taylor came here and surveyed area in 1773, and it became an early pioneer stopping place. By 1775, "Leestown" was settled and named by Hancock and Willis Lee and later established by Virginia General Assembly in 1776. Although it was temporarily abandoned in 1777 because of Indian attack, Leestown was reestablished and became well-known shipping port for tobacco, hemp, corn and whiskey to the New Orleans market during the late 18th century.
(5) WARD HALL
This grand Greek Revival mansion sitting atop a rolling hillside on the Frankfort Road just a mile west of Georgetown was once the center of a 500-acre estate owned by Junius R. Ward.
Junius paid $50,000 in gold for construction of the grand mansion, which was completed in 1857. He made a fortune of hemp and cotton production in Mississippi, and used Ward Hall as his summer home in Kentucky. Ten years later, Ward went bankrupt and was forced to sell the estate.
(6) SCOTT COUNTY HEMP
Hemp production commenced in Scott County during the late 18th century. According to this historic marker, Rev. Elijah Craig established one of the earliest hemp ropewalks at Georgetown in 1789. He also started a fulling mill in 1793. Both produced cordage and rigging for ships. By 1810, Scott County was the second largest hemp producer in the state at 599 tons.
(7) BOURBON COUNTY HEMP/
The Alexander House has long been a main stay on Main Street of Paris, Kentucky. Generally, the accepted completion date for the Alexander House is 1815. However, some documents point to a date as early as 1790. The first residences of the house were William W. Alexander and his wife, Jane Stamps Alexander. William W. was the son of the Sr. William Alexander, an early hemp plantation owner in Paris-Bourbon County.
Today, the house has been restored and is the home of Pleasanton Goods, a specialty shop offering local and artisanal goods including
Kentucky Proud hemp products. A mural on the side of the building is a new addition, featuring "Hemp, our past, our future" and can be seen by anyone driving down Main Street in historic Paris, Bourbon County.
(8) CLARK COUNTY HEMP
Clark County was an early adopter of hemp production, and grew to be one of the top producing counties in the state. Dealers in Winchester contributed to pioneering the warehouse movement, which became critical for shipping and storing hemp and hempen goods during the 19th century. According to this marker, production increased from 155 tons in 1869 to over 1,000 tons in 1889, valued at $125 per ton.
(9) WHITE HALL
White Hall was home to General Green Clay, first cousin of Henry Clay. Green became one of the richest landowners and slave holders in the state, often using his land and those he enslaved for hemp production. Green Clay also had a ferry known as "Clay's Ferry", often used it for shipping hemp and hempen goods.
Green Clay built his home in 1798 and called his two story brick Georgian house "Clermont." Green Clay’s youngest son Cassius Marcellus Clay later inherited the home and several hundred acres surrounding it.
(11) SHAKER VILLAGE
The Shakers of Pleasant Hill relied heavily on hemp crops to help develop their community and industries, alike, from twine to make their famous Shaker Brooms, to the rope to strap down cargo on flat bottom boats as they traded along the river banks of Kentucky and beyond.
(12) JACK JOUETT HOUSE
This house was built in 1797 for Capt. John “Jack” Jouett, the “Paul Revere of the South,” known for his late night ride to warn Thomas Jefferson of the British cavalry. After the war, he moved to Kentucky and lived in Harrodsburg until moving to Versailles. As a horse breeder, farmer, and livestock importer, his knowledge was often sought out on farming matters. Hemp was grown by Jouett on the original 500-acre property.
(13) WOODFORD COUNTY HEMP
Woodford County was one of the chief hemp-producing counties in the state. During the 1840s, the crop income reached a yearly high of $125,000, producing 900 tons of hemp annually.
According to this historical marker, at one point the county had 19 ropewalks. James F. Hopkins wrote that in the 1850s, Woodford County attracted attention as one of the foremost hemp growing areas, only second to Fayette County.
(14) HOPEMONT, THE HUNT-MORGAN HOUSE
Hopemont was the home of John Wesley Hunt, who made a fortune from pioneering the manufacture of cotton bagging made for hemp in the early 19th century. At the age of forty, Hunt purchased the lot located at the northwest corner of Mill and Second streets from Thomas January for $3,000. In 1814, he built the house he called “Hopemont,” known today as the Hunt-Morgan House in Lexington.
(15) GRATZ PARK
Gratz Park became Lexington's first local historic district in 1958, and is surrounded by the remnants of Fayette County hemp history. From the homes of hemp manufacturers, to the properties that were once ropewalks and bagging factories, Gratz Park could be considered the core of the antebellum Kentucky hemp industry.
(16) ASHLAND, THE HENRY CLAY ESTATE
Ashland was once a 600-acre plantation and home of Kentucky’s favorite son, Henry Clay. Clay grew thousands of pounds of hemp at his Ashland Estate, having it manufactured primarily into rope and cotton bagging. Hemp became such a principal element of Henry Clay’s personal economy that it greatly influenced his public career. It even inspired major elements of his political plan called The American System.
The Waveland mansion was completed in 1848 by Joseph Bryan, a grandnephew of Daniel Boone.
Daniel Bryan, the father of Joseph Bryan received a 600-acres in southern Fayette county as payment for serving in the Revolutionary War.
According to family tradition Daniel Boone surveyed the 600-acre grant for his nephew.
The name for the estate "Waveland" came from wind causing the fields of hemp and grain to wave in the breeze on the rolling hills of the bluegrass. Today, the historic mansion and remaining 10 acres of the once 2,500 acre plantation belonging to the Bryan family are owned and operated by Kentucky State Parks.
(18) JESSAMINE COUNTY HEMP
Jessamine County was one of the chief hemp-producing counties in Kentucky. The county was ranked third in the value of hemp products and in number of cordage factories having a total of 14 in 1840. In 1899, it was one of three Bluegrass counties which accounted for more than one-half of hemp grown in the country.
(19) ASHFORD ACRES INN
Learn about the rich history of hemp rooted in Cynthiana-Harrison County at the historic Ashford Acres Inn!
(20) MASON COUNTY HEMP
The only major hemp-producing Ky. county outside the Blue Grass area. The 1810 crop income was $70,000. Maysville second to Louisville in finished hemp products, 1830s. Nicholas Arthur's factory, using horsepower, was one of several ropewalks, long buildings for spiral winding of hemp fibers. It processed yearly 600,000 lbs. of rope worth $41,000.