When the setting sun paints particularly vibrant colors in the west, Gary Denton expects visitors at his farm just north of downtown Nicholasville.
Around this time of year, the sun sets almost directly behind a wooden cross that stands on Denton's property. It's easily visible on the west side of U.S. 27.
When the cross is silhouetted against the brilliant colors of sunset, it forms a motif few can resist. Many folks seem inspired by it.
"All kinds of people stop just to look and snap pictures," Denton said. "It wasn't long ago that a lady came by my house and said, 'I just want you to know how much this has meant to me.'
"I couldn't tell you her name," Denton said. "But she stops two or three times a week."
This all began a few years ago when New Hope Fellowship, a Nicholasville church, sought Denton's permission to hold a revival on his property. Denton agreed, and the church held tent revivals two straight summers.
Sometime during the process, Denton says, the cross just appeared. Made of wooden timbers, it perches atop a mound of earth left behind when Denton built a commercial entrance to his property some years ago.
Denton thinks someone from the church erected the cross, but he isn't sure.
Soon afterward, however, something surprising started to happen. People hurrying past on U.S. 27 began stopping to enjoy the sunsets and the cross.
Counting the height of the mound, the cross probably rises 20 feet into the air. Over the years, the cross developed a slight lean which, Denton thinks, could make it even more rustic and appealing.
"Of course, the sun has been setting there for who knows how long," he said. "But there's something about the cross being there that adds to it."
Denton admits that he started noticing the sunsets more himself after the cross appeared.
Traffic passing the farm usually is going 50 or 60 mph. But that doesn't keep drivers from pulling over to stop, relax a few minutes and savor the view.
"There aren't a lot of opportunities today to stop and just look at the world around us," Denton said. "Once the cross was there, I couldn't think of taking it down.
"It's just an open field with a mound of dirt and this cross. Pretty basic, but it sure sends a message."
Jim Warren (859) 231-3255