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.