Friday, May 29, 2009

A Capitol Idea

Friday, May 29, 2009
Lexington, OH

Our Thursday explorations provided so much to write about I decided to split them into two entries. Yesterday I wrote about Buffalo Chase Distillery. This entry will cover the rest of our day in Frankfort on Thursday.

After our experience at Buffalo Chase we headed downtown and found the Capitol Building. I believe this will be our 8th Capitol we've visited since embarking on this lifestyle two years ago. One of the difficulties in getting to Capitol Buildings is that they're usually located in congested larger towns... places that violate our prime directive. So I'm often not real excited to drive very far to explore them. But life is a series of compromises and this is one that I can put up with as long as there's a rest period between visits.

That said, congestion isn't a problem here in Frankfort. In fact it almost looked like a holiday near the Capitol. Most street parking (no meters, no fees) was open. People that work in the building must park around back because there were no parking lots in sight on the front side. A wide street, Capital Avenue, lined with mature stately red oak trees provided a welcoming feeling as we approached. The neighborhood around the place was a bit of a surprise as it was just a normal-feeling residential area -- some nice homes, some run-down, just an ordinary neighborhood.

Frankfort has a population of about 30,000 and is the 5th least populated State Capital in the USA. It's nestled in the wooded folds of a narrow valley created by the Kentucky River. In 1792 Frankfort was selected as the State Capital by a legislative committee, probably as a compromise (there's that word again) between factions from Louisville and Lexington who both also wanted the honor and the development that followed.

Kentucky is one of a few of these United States that is officially a "commonwealth", not a "state". For all intents and purposes it's the same thing, but the different wording assures people know it's purpose... for the common good... or for the good of all.

Kentucky is also third in the USA in the number of Counties at 120. Behind only Texas and Georgia, the idea of the founders in the time of 3 mph travel was that everyone should be able to travel to the seat of county government, and back home again, in a single day.

Another thing Kentucky has going for it is the sense of limited government. The legislature, by constitution, is to meet for only 60 days in the even numbered years, and for only 30 days in the odd years. The Governor can call special sessions as necessary. With limited legislative time they're bound to focus on the larger problems instead of looking under rocks for things to fix. You gotta' like that.

From Bourbon & Capitol

The building itself is very nice, fitting of the term Capitol... something the residents of Kentucky can be proud of. While somewhat understated and modestly adorned, there were elements that referenced it's history, it's early pioneers, the philosophies of the early settlers, and the tracing of those early ingredients on up to current time.

From Bourbon & Capitol

The basic design is common: a large domed rotunda, the cathedral-like halls stretching outward from the rotunda toward the two houses of the legislative branch on opposite ends of the building, an area for the Supreme Court, and an area for the executive branch, the Governor, and his minions.

From Bourbon & Capitol

I particularly liked the setting of the building on a high spot in this narrow river valley. It looks fitting, stately yet limited, formal but comfortable.

After a walk around the Capitol grounds and the surrounding neighborhood, we headed off toward home. But as we drove up a street on our way out of town we found a cemetery, a very old Frankfort Cemetery, that has the purported gravesite of Daniel Boone. A quick U-turn and sharp left turn got us in the gate... and almost into the funeral procession of someone who clearly had a lot of family and friends. There must have been 100 cars... I don't know who died. It was a good thing ol' Danl's grave was in a different area than today's honored deceased as we were able to jog around and find it easily.

From Bourbon & Capitol

They planted Daniel in a wonderful setting on a high bluff overlooking the valley below and the Capitol Building on the other side. He died in Missouri and was buried near Marthasville, MO. in 1820. In 1845, he and his wife Rebecca were disinterred and brought back to Kentucky, to this spot. Controversy remains about this, however, as some say the wrong remains were dug-up and Daniel and Rebecca are actually still in Missouri. Both States claim to have his grave to this day.

So what I can say with certainty is that we may have seen Daniel Boone's gravesite.

T

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Gumption

Initiative. Resourcefulness. Aggressiveness. However we define it, there seems to be too little of it among teenagers these days.