New life for Pioneer Museum artifacts

MOUNT OLIVET, Ky. (AP) — Change has been good for operators of Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park.

Following a two-year stretch of closed doors at the Pioneer Museum, a re-dedication of the facility is scheduled to coincide with the 232 commemoration of the battle which gave the park its name.

A water problem at the museum in 2011 escalated into an air quality issue which forced the closure until changes could be made, officials said.

Now, there is a newly installed French drain system to detour water runoff from the hill behind the museum, and changes inside to allow easier access for anyone wanting to visit the facility, said park naturalist Paul Tierney.

"All of the displays, and more items, which had been in the downstairs area are now on the main floor for all to see," Tierney said on Friday.

With a week before the Battle of Blue Licks reenactment gets underway, Tierney was putting the final touches on displays in the older section of the museum.

"We are going to have this part dedicated to the springs," Tierney said, describing the significance of Blue Licks Spring to pioneers and future generations.

New displays have been set up, featuring information about the spring, which was an attraction for everything from mastodons to bison and Native Americans, to settlers like Daniel Boone in the 1700s, the operators of a spa in the 1800s, and bottlers of Blue Licks Spring Water into the 1900s.

The spring was located in the area where the community of Blue Licks was, near the bridge of U.S. 68 crossing the Licking River near the park.

In addition to vintage clothing of the period, the renovations for repairs revealed a secret in the wall below the museum, Tierney said.

"This is an Empire Bottle labeling machine made in 1902," Tierney said of a centerpiece of the Blue Licks Spring Water display. "We have not gotten information it was actually used at the plant, but it is the right style and time for it to have been in use. It was the best of the best for the time and could label 45 bottles a minute."

During re-enactment activities, the room will also have someone working the large loom, plus spinner, weaver and dye making activities in the space, which also has seating for small groups.

In the entry section of the museum, built in 1935, additional artifacts are also on display, relating to the Battle of Blue Licks in 1782 and artifacts which led to the late William J. Curtis pushing for the establishment of the park.

On Aug. 19, 1782, Daniel Boone and a band of pioneers from Fort Boonesborough encountered Native American and British troops in the ridges above the salt spring at Blue Licks; the battle that ensued was an inspiration for the park.

Boone’s son was killed in the battle.

After the initial tract was purchased to be a park, it was presented to Kentucky in 1928, by Curtis, who is known as the "father of Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park."

Curtis is buried next to the museum.

Mastodon teeth, tusks and other items have been preserved, including photographs of the excavations, and are on display in one area.

Around the room, items depicting the 1782 battle, including uniforms, and firearms of the era are also on display.

"We are still putting on the finishing touches, but I think people who have been here before and those who have never seen the museum will like what we have done," Tierney said.

Next for the Pioneer Museum will be a window refurbishment project, expected to take 39 man hours each to do, he said.

Re-dedication of the museum is scheduled for 10 a.m., Aug. 16. Re-enactment and a variety of activities are scheduled to begin 8 a.m., Aug. 16 and 9 a.m., Aug. 17. ; battlefield reenactments are at 3 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m., Sunday.

This year there is no admission fee for reenactment visitors and the museum is free during the event.


Information from: The Ledger Independent,


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