Bright's Inn

Historical Marker #2433 near Stanford remembers Bright's Inn, an important stage coach stop on the Wilderness Road between Cumberland Gap and Louisville.

Travel in the early nineteenth century could be a trying experience. If the modes of transportation—walking, riding horseback, or flatboat—were not difficult enough to discourage the average voyager, the cost, lack of lodging facilities, and their general poor condition likely encouraged people to stay at home. Places where travelers could find a hearty meal, comfortable overnight accommodations, and perhaps even some form of entertainment were highly prized, but seldom found.

Bright's Inn, built in 1815 by Captain John Bright, was a rarity. Guests at Bright's Inn could indulge in a meal of roast venison or bear meat, have their animals tended to by Bright's slaves, and find relatively comfortable sleeping quarters.

Located near Stanford on the busy Wilderness Road, Bright's Inn originally consisted of a large log structure with enormous stone chimneys. Later, a stone addition was attached to the log building. For the hundreds of people traveling yearly from states such as Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and parts of Georgia, heading to Kentucky and other western localities, Bright's Inn served as a welcomed respite. Even famous soldiers and statesmen like Isaac Shelby, George Rogers Clark, and Henry Clay made stops at Bright's Inn.

One hundred years after it was constructed, Bright's Inn was remodeled. John Bright's grandson, W. M. Bright, removed the original log structure and constructed a brick building. The stone addition remained. Today, Bright's Inn is privately owned but still stands as a witness to the early days when travel was not as easy as loading up the minivan and finding a Holiday Inn.

Images

Old Stone Inn

Old Stone Inn

Due to the abundance of local limestone, a number of Kentucky stagecoach inns were made of that material, like this inn in Shelby County. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Log Stagecoach Inn

Log Stagecoach Inn

Early stagecoach inns were often little more than grand-size log cabins, like this one in Hart County, Kentucky. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Stagecoach

Stagecoach

Travel in stagecoaches like this one was extremely trying, but at the time it was the best method of conveyance available for overland travel. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky. View File Details Page

Four-team Stagecoach

Four-team Stagecoach

Depending on the size of the stagecoach and the distance to be traveled, coaches could be pulled by two, four, or six horse teams. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky. View File Details Page

Inn Entertainment

Inn Entertainment

Some period inns provided different forms of entertainment, as did this one in Frankfort that hosted a ball. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Tim Talbott, “Bright's Inn,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed April 26, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/562.

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