Franklin County

Liberty Hall Historic Site to host river-based tours beginning this month

This month, history buffs will be able to take a river-based tour of the homes of John Brown, who was instrumental in making Kentucky a state.
This month, history buffs will be able to take a river-based tour of the homes of John Brown, who was instrumental in making Kentucky a state. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Beginning later this month, history buffs will be able to go on a river tour of the family homes of John Brown, who was instrumental in making Kentucky a state.

Liberty Hall Historic Site has teamed with Rockin’ Thunder Jet Boat Tours in Madison, Ind., and Blue Wing Landing Inn near Gratz to offer historical tours at Liberty Hall and Blue Wing Landing.

Chris Harp, marketing coordinator for Liberty Hall Historic Site, said the tours will raise money for the site.

The tour begins at Liberty Hall, which includes a tour of the house built by John Brown, who was a U.S. senator from 1792 to 1805. Brown was a key figure in Kentucky’s path to statehood. In 1788, he presented a petition to separate the district of Kentucky from Virginia. Kentucky became a state in 1792.

The home has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971. Before the tour, visitors will be served tea and cake based on the Brown family’s recipes.

After the tour, visitors will take the Frankfort Trolley, to a dock to board a 20-passenger jet boat that will take them to Blue Wing Landing Inn via the Kentucky River.

On the river, visitors might see bald eagles or herons while learning about the river’s history and folklore. Harp said the trip is “a little more fun than just riding.” The boat will pass through several locks built in the 1830s that were used by steamboats.

“People aren’t getting on this boat and quietly taking an excursion,” he said

Blue Wing Landing Inn was built in 1850 by Brown’s grandson, Secretary of State Mason Brown. It had been a vacation home for the Browns and at one time included a peach orchard. It’s now an event center with lodging, and visitors will be given a tour of the property and served lunch. The jet boat will then take them back to Liberty Hall.

Harp said the tours will help Frankfort’s tourism industry.

“We’re trying to bring river tourism back,” he said.

Tours will be given Aug. 15 to 17 and Sept. 26 to 28. Tickets are $250 a person, and $100 of that will be donated to the Liberty Hall Historic Site for preservation work. The ticket price includes tours of the homes, the jet boat ride and lunch. The tours will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 5 p.m.

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