A sweeping cultural history,The Kentucky Riverreflects the rich tapestry of life along the banks. Flowing with tales of river ghosts and hidden treasures lying in the backwaters, the book records the myths and events the river has spawned. Bill Ellis also celebrates the Kentucky's influence on such figures as writer Wendell Berry and painter Paul Sawyier.
Beginning with an intriguing overview of the river's formation and characteristics, Ellis shows how the stream has helped shape Kentucky's environment, economy, and political culture. In centuries past, flotillas of flatboats carried whiskey, pork, and valuable raw materials downriver to markets in Louisiana. Later, the river became a source of entertainment as showboats brought theater, movies, music, and dancing to otherwise isolated communities.
The book describes the environmental impact of settlement, logging, mining, and industrialization, developments that have sometimes tainted the Kentucky's mighty waters with silt, sewage, and trash. In the last thirty years, however, Kentuckians have come together in major efforts to clean and preserve the Kentucky's waters and the life along its banks. Advocates for the river achieved a victory in protecting the stunning Kentucky River Palisades between Boonesborough and Frankfort, and efforts continue to preserve the irreplaceable river for future generations.