Explore KY's National Historic Landmarks

Tour curated by: The ExploreKYHistory Team

Visiting historic sites often helps one better understand the history that happened there. Direct physical experiences with places that are deemed historically important provide an additional layer of knowledge that one cannot obtain just through reading or other forms of media.

Since 1935, the Department of the Interior—and later the National Park Service specifically—has been listing historic places deemed to be important to the history of the United States. According to the National Park Service, National Historic Landmarks (NHL) are "nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States." There are more than 2,500 NHLs across the United States. Kentucky contains more than thirty of them.

In keeping with the National Park Service's definition, the commonwealth's NHLs often convey those things that are quintessentially Kentucky. The state has NHLs that relate to its history in horse racing, distilleries, and frontier heritage. Some of Kentucky's NHLs are well known, like Churchill Downs and the Perryville Battlefield, while others are not so famous, such as the Pine Mountain Settlement School and the Whitney M. Young Birthplace.

Regardless of their fame, or lack thereof, the state's NHLs offer opportunities to learn about the commonwealth's past and draw inspiration for the future. Many of Kentucky's NHLs are represented on the state's highway markers. We hope you will use this app to learn more about these special Kentucky treasures.

Locations for Tour

Historical Markers #85 and #2093 commemorate the Battle of Middle Creek, fought near Prestonsburg on January 10, 1862. The battle was crucial in the struggle to control the Big Sandy Valley, and future U. S. president James Garfield won an early…

Historical Marker #863 in Pulaski County commemorates the Battle of Mill Springs. Fought on January 19, 1862, the battle was an early Union victory that helped break a Confederate defensive line that spanned across southern Kentucky. With…

Historical Marker #2284 in downtown Danville commemorates the Ephraim McDowell House. There, in 1809, Danville physican Ephraim McDowell performed the world's first successful abdominal operation when he removed a twenty-two pound ovarian tumor…

Historical Marker #197 in Danville commemorates the founding of the Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD), "the first state-supported school in the United States for the instruction of deaf children." In the early nineteenth century, General…

Historical Marker #2235 identifies the home of Henry Clay, one of the most influential U.S. politicians of the nineteenth century. After Clay's death in 1852, his heirs sold Ashland land to his son, James Brown Clay, who built the current…

Historical Marker #773 in Madison County notes the location of Berea College, a school founded in 1855 by abolitionist John G. Fee. In 1853, Kentucky emancipationist Cassius Marcellus Clay invited minister and abolitionist John G. Fee to Madison…

Historical Marker #1481 in Mercer County recognizes the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. The Society of Believers, more commonly known as the Shakers, immigrated to America from England in 1774 to avoid religious persecution. By the early…

Historical Marker #2428 commemorates the history of the O.F.C.-Stagg Distillery in Franklin County. Perhaps the most remarkable man to enter the whiskey industry during the post-Civil War years was Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. Born in…

Historical markers #1986 and #1987 note the location and significance of the Labrot and Graham Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky. The Labrot and Graham distillery holds the distinction of being one of the oldest working distilleries in Kentucky. …

Historical Marker # 2 in Fayette County remembers the 1825 visit the Marquis de Lafayette made to the estate of Major John Keen (the extra "e" was added later), who had served with the Frenchman in the Revolutionary War. Keeneland,…

Historical Markers #1885 and #2255 in Louisville note the location of Churchill Downs, the racetrack of the "Run for the Roses," the famous Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs began when track founder Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., the grandson…

Historical Marker #1419 in Shelby County commemorates Whitney M. Young, Jr., one of the primary personalities of the Civil Rights Movement. Young was born in Lincoln Ridge, Kentucky (Shelby County), in 1921. His father was an educator, and later…

Historical Marker #1509 commemorates the history of the grist mill and distillery that would later be known as Makers Mark in Loretto, Kentucky. In 1803, Charles Burks, his wife Sarah, and their family settled on the west bank of Hardin Creek in…

Historical Marker #1524 in Frankfort notes the location of the Old State Capitol, which served as the state’s center of government from 1830 to 1910. Due to the generous donation of land and building materials by the town's citizens,…

Historical Marker #1653 interprets Liberty Hall, a house museum in Kentucky's capital. Located in downtown Frankfort on the banks of the Kentucky River, Liberty Hall Historic Site was the home of the Brown family, one of Kentucky's most…

Historical Marker #1849 in Louisville notes the location of the boyhood home of general and president Zachary Taylor. U.S. President Zachary Taylor was born in Orange County, Virginia, in 1784 to Richard and Sarah Dabney Taylor. The Taylor family…

Historical Marker #192 in Boyle County commemorates a Perryville resident who made great sacrifices during the Civil War. Henry Bottom was a farmer and justice of the peace whose home was caught in the crossfire of Kentucky's largest battle. …

Two historical markers--#1515 and #2222---commemorate Camp Nelson in Jessamine County, where most of the state's African American Union soldiers were recruited. Established near Nicholasville in 1863, Camp Nelson was named for Union General…

Historical Marker #1601 in Kenton County commemorates the Roebling Suspension Bridge, the first bridge to span the Ohio River. Opened to traffic on January 1, 1867, the bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time. The cost of…

Historical Marker #50 in Kenton County marks the boyhood home of Daniel Carter Beard, who founded the Sons of Daniel Boone, a forerunner to the Boy Scouts of America. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 21, 1850, Beard grew up in nearby Covington,…

Historical Marker #88 in Jefferson County celebrates the Old Bank of Louisville building. Constructed in 1837, this National Historic Landmark is an excellent example of the Greek Revival-style of architecture. Notable architect Gideon Shyrock…

Historical Marker #558 in Leslie County commemorates the Frontier Nursing Service. Founded in 1925 by Mary Breckinridge, the Frontier Nursing Service provided medical services to remote areas of southeastern Kentucky. The organization eventually…

Historical Marker #1406 in Fayette County commemorates Old Morrison, a National Historic Landmark located on the campus of Transylvania University. Morrison Hall was erected to replace the university's previous administration building, which…

Historical Marker #1520 in Madison County commemorates Fort Boonesborough, the early frontier settlement established by Daniel Boone and Richard Henderson in April 1775. Boonesborough was first envisioned by Colonel Richard Henderson of the…

Historical Marker #2086 in Jefferson County commemorates the Locust Grove estate. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986, Locust Grove was the home of William Croghan and his wife, Lucy Clark Croghan. Lucy was the sister of the…

Historical Marker #2317 in Jefferson County commemorates the Louisville Water Company Filtration Plant, Reservoir, and Gatehouse. The Louisville Water Company was chartered by the Kentucky General Assembly on March 6, 1854. It became the…

Historical Marker #2387 in Harlan County commemorates the Pine Mountain Settlement School, a National Historic Landmark that opened in 1913. Beginning as a combination social settlement and boarding school for local youth, Pine Mountain Settlement…