Kentucky's capital city sits on the banks of the Kentucky River in the central part of the state. The river's use for industrial purposes such as transportation and power have long since vanished, but remnants of it remain. The most notable of these are the dam and locks system just west of downtown. What has become on of my favorite local restaurants, Jim's Seafood sits high above the river overlooking the old dam. In fact, their slogan is "The best seafood by a dam site!" Inside Jim's, there's a room devoted to the preservation of the area's industrial legacy with photos, essays, and articles. The land upon which Jim's and several other nearby establishments rests used to be a hemp factory which used the flowing waters of the Kentucky River to turn a millwheel.
I discovered all of this one afternoon while driving about Frankfort alone. Jim's has an outdoor patio-deck, and just around it, is a small footpath leading down to the river and the edge of the dam. I took the foot path that day and descended from the hot asphalt of Jim's parking lot into the cool shade of riverbank oak, maple, and sycamore. I later stood on a concrete precipice beside the dam, the water roaring over it. I didn't have my camera with me, however.
As I stood there, I look across, up, and down the river. In the distance, downstream I saw something on the opposite bank. I wasn't for sure what it was, but it was huge and I had a good idea. I went back to the car and followed the highway over the river. After about 30 minutes of trying various road, I finally found myself in the vicinity of it. I parked the car in a small parking area and headed into the underbrush which led down to the river.
It was what I thought it was. But I still didn't have my camera with me! I went home, but, I knew my girlfriend would kill.me. if I didn't take her, so I waited until she got off from work and told her I had a surprise for her. A boat....
In fact, it was an old freight barge. Years of fluctuating water levels have deposited rich, fertile silt in the cargo hold allowing grass and trees to take-root and grow there.
Obviously from the above photos, climbing onto it and walking around its edge was fairly easy. At either end of the cargo hold were large, flat areas. The downstream end was in better condition than the other, with a large, steel platform to move around on. Trees grew through one of the large portals and there were structures (I'm obviously not a nautical person) for tying the barge down when docked.
On the upstream end, however, the platform had either been cut away, or possibly, had been made of a less durable material which had rotted away over the years.
Between these two points were the remains of the cargo hold with all of the vegetation. While it didn't prove to be very accessibile, you could walk around it on the edges, which had plenty of more tie-down points and portals.
It was very serene and peaceful there. Also very scenic. Downstream, across the river was the rear of Buffalo Trace, a bourbon whiskey distiller.
Upstream, you could see the dam, and Jim's Seafood precariously perched above it. The pile of rocks on the left, with the concrete wall behind it is where I had stood earlier in the afternoon and spotted the beached barge.
I still need to walk back down to the dam with my camera, too. And Jim ain't lying about being the best seafood by a dam site. We went to eat there afterward. If you ever find yourself in Frankfort and have a hankering for crab legs, you'll find few places inland that do a better job.
x-posted to abandonedplaces and urban_decay