|October 2, 2004: Bourbon Birthing & High Speed Privies|
It was Wednesday afternoon when someone on the
66 eGroup posted a message about an MSNBC article on
59 Jaw-Dropping Roadside
Attractions. The posting occurred because several of the listed
attractions are on or near Route 66 but the list itself was not Sixty-Six
related and there are jaw-droppers located throughout the U.S. I
eventually scanned the entire list and found a few I have visited. I also
learned that some unvisited jaw-droppers are not all that far away. One of
these is Penn's
Store - the oldest continuously operated family store in the country.
The store is only about 125 miles from Cincinnati. I know I've been very
close but I was not at all familiar with it. I visited the store's web
site and quickly realized that this was a place I should stop by some
time. A click on the "Special Events" link revealed that, in
their biggest event of the year, the Penn's celebrate their first modern
sanitary facility with "The Great Outhouse Blowout". When is it
held? First Saturday in October. When is the next one? Three days away.
What plans do I have for that day? None. What happened then? Aw, you
It looked like the best path was toward Lexington and that instantly brought to mind a visit to the nearby Labrot & Graham distillery that had been closed on an earlier visit. I did a website check and found out that, on Saturdays, they offer tours every hour starting at 10:00. I had been to the Makers Mark distillery several years ago and found that interesting. They also offer tour every hour but theirs are on the half-hour. Since Makers Mark is not too far distant from Penn's Store, maybe I could work in both distilleries on the way there. I started my drive down I-75 with the idea of making that 10 AM tour at Labrot & Graham. Near Lexington I switched from I-75 which, as I've said before, isn't too bad in this area - for an interstate - to I-64. I-64 is called scenic on some maps and mapping software (e.g., DeLorme). Today I noticed that I-64 has apparently been designated the Purple Heart Trail. I don't know when or why.
As soon as I exited the interstate, my plans were severely wounded. I
intended to turn left on US-60 but there was an arrow pointing to the
right telling me that another distillery was but a few miles away in that
direction. I was only a half-dozen miles from Labrot & Graham and it
was just a few minutes past 9:00. Might as well drive by, I decided. I
did. It looked neat. It offered a tour at ten. Soooooo, these pictures are
not, as you might have expected, from Labrot & Graham, but from the
distillery just up the road.
When prohibition became the law in 1920, four distilleries were licensed to make medicinal whiskey. This was one of those four and, since the other three no longer exist, Buffalo Trace (formerly Ancient Age) is the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States. The inside pictures are of a gallery/museum behind the gift shop, the bottling room, and an aging room. Those oak ricks, and the building housing them, were made in 1881. Our guide's eyes were somewhat red and swollen from an allergic reaction to something (wheat was her guess). I have a couple of pictures but they aren't very flattering so I've decided not to use them. But I can still say that, Betty, you did a great job. Besides the many buildings in the distillery complex, the property includes a nice garden area. Prominent in the garden is Thunder, a buffalo carved from a fallen 300 year old sycamore tree.
|I retraced my path, through some fairly interesting scenery, and was soon turning from US-60 onto Grassy Springs Road. Yep, we're definitely in horse country and there are acres of green fields and miles of white fences. This oval racetrack like layout is just after the turn off of US-60. That's Grassy Springs leading off to more scenic farmland and the distillery I had originally headed for.|
|Labrot & Graham had not been open when I was by here in June. Today I missed the ten o'clock tour I had originally targeted but was there for the one at twelve. In the fermenting room, the mixture in the huge Cyprus wood tanks foams and bubbles in the early stages of becoming Woodford Reserve Bourbon. That's our guide, Jim, in front of one of the unique copper stills. Both distilleries I visited today offered free samples at tour's end. The tour at Buffalo Trace was free. The Woodford Reserve folks get $5 for theirs but do include a souvenir shot glass.|
|I have been through Harrodsburg before but don't recall ever stopping. Today I stopped only briefly at Fort Harrod State Park. The giant sprawling tree is quite an attraction along with a full sized replica of the fort. There is also a museum and, during the summer, the Legend of Daniel Boone, an outdoor drama, is performed regularly. Clearly another place where I need to spend some time but not today. I need to get to the store.|
|A detour was marked in Harrodsburg but I stayed with US-68 as far as I could then headed off on Quirks Run Road. One of its quirks is the occasional appearance of being divided into three nearly even parts: right lane, left lane, and center stripes. Yes, I did encounter a couple of large trucks and, yes, there was not much room. Quirks Run Road took me to US-150 and US-150 lead me back to US-60 at Perrysville.|
At last I reached the days destination,
where the Great Outhouse Blowout was going strong. Chet Atkins performed
at the dedication of the first outhouse on the property in 1992 (before
that: "just plenty of trees"). Chet wasn't there today, of
course, but there was still plenty of good music. The reason for all this,
the store, is still there after 159 years. The last 154 of those have been
under the ownership of the Penn family and that continues with current
owner Dawn Lane Osborn, granddaughter of Alma "Tincy" Penn.
Neighbor Modine Ellis was tending the store today. She recommended calling
before coming because, even though the intent is to be open every weekend,
"Sometimes the cows get out. Things happen."
Rain delayed the start of the outhouse races from the planned 10 AM until noon. Even so, most of the competition was over by my almost 3:00 PM arrival. I did, however, manage to watch the last few runs down the track and catch a picture of the winner approaching the finish line in the final event of the day. Both "vehicles" in the picture are from Casey County Auto-Tech, a local trade school. You can see some of the other entries plus the structure that started it all here. The winner's name? Pot Rocket. How could it miss?
ADDENDUM: Visitors to the Penn's Store web site may have seen the reference to the store once being used as the setting for a Playboy photo shoot. I did. There is even a slightly modified copy of a picture from that shoot and I went searching for an unmodified copy online. I didn't find one but I did find the issue from which it came available for 75¢. So, for three-fourths of a dollar and three times that in postage I made the buy. I'd like to share but....
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