Experience the Frankfort tours which begin later this month

By RUSS HATTER Asst. Curator Capital City Museum Published:

I am two-thirds through reading Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwins Team of Rivals The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. A comment from Lincoln leaped from the page begging me to share it with you. It is totally taken out of context for this column but it does perfectly express my feelings.

Lincoln said, referring to his wartime cabinet:

What is the use of growing old? You learn something of men and things but never until too late to use it.

In my case I have the chance to share what Ive learned of men and things but it is not too late to use it. That is why I enjoy sharing these weekly columns with you and why I enjoy the opportunity of the seasonal tours to share the things we have learned about Frankfort and its past.

Our Frankfort tours begin this month. Once again we take to the outdoors to share Frankfort history in a carefree, relaxed atmosphere whether walking or riding. All tours will embark from the Capital City museum, 325 Ann St. It is imperative that reservations are made in advance.

We offer one tour each day, Monday through Friday, at 10:30 a.m. As the museum expands and its popularity increases our duties of maintaining Frankforts historic sites have expanded tremendously. In order to service our other sites like Fort Hill, the St. Clair Mall, and River View Park, we are limited in what we can make available to the public. For tour information, schedules, and reservations call the museum at 696-0607.

If you would like an inexpensive, comfortable, air-conditioned way to see Frankfort we invite you to join us each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in our minivan tour that takes you to the parks of River View and Cove Spring, Fort Hill, Green Hill Cemetery, the Frankfort Cemetery, the Kentucky Viet Nam War Memorial, both the new and old Capitols, both governors mansions, the Floral Clock, the Frank Lloyd Wright House, Rebecca Ruth Candy, the Corner in Celebrities, and downtown Frankfort.

This tour is limited to five people and is very often sells out. Allow for an hour to an hour and a half.

When it isnt raining on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, for a small fee you can stroll through the historic streets of downtown Frankfort.

One tour is led by Frankforts 1786 founder General James Wilkinson featuring a history of Frankfort in capsule form evolved from the many old buildings and residences concentrated in the Corner in Celebrities area. Another tour takes you into a different section of the downtown area, including Ann, Clinton, and Lewis Streets.

This year we have added guided tours through the Frankfort Cemetery as well as River View Park, limited to five people on each tour. Call the museum between 10 and 4 for information on when tours are offered. Again, advance reservations are necessary and these tours last about an hour and a half.

Chuck Bogarts historic walking railroad tours are back again and will occur on specific Mondays at 5 p.m. starting at the L & N depot adjacent to the Capital City Museum. This popular hour-long free tour tells the history of Frankforts railroad days from its beginning to the present.

The tour dates are June 5, and 19; July 24; August 7 and 21; concluding with one final tour on September 11.

The Murder and Mayhem Tours (every Thursday night at 7:30 in October) are into their fifth season. This eerie trek through darkened alleys and streets led by two early 1900s costumed Frankfort policemen, presents more than 30 grisly downtown murders. The tales are true and because of their graphic and explicit content those persons 18 and under are not permitted to join us.

The Leslie W. Morris Park atop Fort Hill features two Civil War forts, the Sullivan House interpretive center, a picnic pavilion, a scenic downtown Frankfort overlook, and several hiking trails. From 11-4 Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (Memorial Day to October 31) the park is open to vehicular traffic with free guided tours available. There is no admissions charge.

For those who are unable to take tours during the limited times offered, there is another option. You can pick up one of our self-guided tour brochures and do your own tour at your convenience. Brochures are available at the museum front desk.

The Capital City Museum continues to seek mementos from Frankforts past. Photographs, books, Kentucky Historical Society Registers, Filson Club Quarterlies, school yearbooks, local paintings and family histories, military uniforms, old newspapers, Frankfort City Directories, Frankfort business promotional materials, etc.

Corrections and Additions

With the April 23rd column ran a 1948 photo of what Skip Gaines believed to be Frankforts first television set. Recently we heard another story about Frankforts first television. Move over Skip.

Chris Conways grandfather Elwood Conway, following World War II, started Bills Auto Store at 109 St. Clair St. (Krol Insurance today). Realizing in 1946 that television was going to be big Conway placed a large order of Admiral TVs.

Elwood took Frankforts first television and mounted it on a platform in a tree at his house on Fairview Avenue. Spectators came from all around and brought their lawn chairs and food and watched the new device in the evenings. This publicity stunt ended in late 1947 and resulted in establishing a business that continued for the next 31.

Does anyone have a story that can top this for the oldest television in Frankfort/Franklin County?

Last Sundays column dealing with the official song of Frankfort stimulated Kent Ueltschi to open Capital Expo with a rendition of the citys song written more than 50 years ago. Hopefully arrangements can be made so we can all enjoy it at the Expo opening ceremony at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 1.

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