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The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home
'Tis summer, the people are gay;
The corn top's ripe and the meadow's in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day;
The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy, and bright,
By'n by hard times comes a-knocking at the door,
Then my old Kentucky home, good night!

Kentucky State Song

Courtesy of

In addition to being a mixture of the Midwest and the South, Kentucky lies on the border of the historical North and South. During the Civil War, the state officially stayed in the Union, but many of Kentucky's citizens fought with the Confederate army. Ironically, Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln, the two opposing leaders in the Civil War, were both born in the state.


Kentucky has more interesting history. Daniel Boone first hunted bison, bear, deer, and wild turkey in the state's wilderness in 1767. He called the region a "second paradise." In 1775, Boone blazed the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap, a natural pass in the Appalachian Mountains near the meeting point of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Indians sometimes attacked settlers traveling on the dangerous trail that ended in Boonesborough. Boone later tried to establish the region as the 14th colony. Kentucky was once part of Virginia, but became the 15th state with Virginia's permission in 1792.

Kentucky's name probably comes from an Indian word meaning "dark and bloody ground," "meadow land," or "land of tomorrow." It is one of the four states officially called a commonwealth. Its nickname is the "Bluegrass State." You can see horses grazing on the grass, which is actually green, but has a bluish tint when seen from a distance because of its purplish-blue buds. "My Old Kentucky Home," written by famous American songwriter Stephen Foster, is the state song. It describes life in the state. The abbreviation for Kentucky is KY.

Courtesy of nationalatlas.govKentucky is an East South Central state bordered by Ohio and Indiana to the north, West Virginia and Virginia to the east, Tennessee to the south, and Illinois and Missouri to the west. The Ohio River runs along the state's northern border. Kentucky's land stretches from the Appalachian Mountains on the east to the Mississippi River on the west.

Although considered a Southern state, Kentucky is a mixture of the Midwest and the South. The northern part of the state has more industrial cities, making it like the Midwest. The southern and western regions of the state, with its farms and mines, are generally more rural, like the South.

Kentucky has been transforming into an industrial state over time. The state's manufacturing industries become more diversified every year. Examples include the growing aluminum industry in Louisville, the state's largest city, and the chemical plants located along the Ohio River.

Despite the fact that Kentucky is becoming more industrialized, farming is still an important part of the state's economy. Only North Carolina produces more tobacco than Kentucky. In addition, the coal mining and bourbon whiskey industries have always been important to the state's economy. Kentucky is one of the leading soft coal producing states in the country. Watch bourbon whiskey being distilled in Frankfort, the state's capital.


Today, there aren't any bison in Kentucky and the bear, deer, and wild turkey are scarce. However, many people go to the state for its scenic beauty. See the Frozen Niagara, one of the spectacular onyx formations found in Mammoth Cave, the world's longest cave. Visit Land Between the Lakes, Cumberland Falls, and Natural Bridge, which is located in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Go to Audubon State Park. It honors John Audubon, a famous artist known for his paintings of North American birds. He was imprisoned in the state for debts.

Tourists visit Kentucky for things other than its scenic beauty. Tour the homes of Henry Clay, a famous American statesman, and Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of President Abraham Lincoln, in Lexington-Fayette. If you want to see gold, go to Fort Knox, where underground vaults keep the United States gold reserves secure. If you like horseracing, Kentucky is the state for you. The Kentucky Derby, a famous horserace, is held on the first Saturday of every May at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville.





State Flag

Largest City...Louisville
Statehood...1792 (15th)
Area...ranked 37th
Motto...United we stand, divided we fall
Nickname...Bluegrass State

State Seal