A few editions ago in place of the Yesteryears column, we ran the above titled column of William Miller Boling’s series from the 1946 Meade County Messenger. This week that series will continue showcasing Boling’s, a former State Representative from Brandenburg, telling of Meade County history to the readers of this paper 75 years ago.
WILLIAM MILLER BOLING
The principal mineral resources of Meade County is limestone which produced in commercial quantity and quality for general purposes of highway and railroad bed construction as well as for building purposes.
Large quantities of Meade County limestone are used for the manufacture of Portland cement.
This commodity is quarried at Oolite, ten miles below Brandenburg on the Ohio River by the Cosmos Portland cement Co., one of the largest and best known concerns so engaged in the late United States. Much of this limestone is suitable for agricultural purposes as fertilizer.
One of the formerly important mineral resources of Meade County natural gas which was produced at Long Branch and Bartles, in the vicinity of Rock Haven and Doe Run Creek, principally from the Chattanooga or Devonian black shale at depths of 300 to 400 feet. This gas was first developed in about 1858, was finally commercialized in 1888 and was transported through pipelines to Louisville for many years.
While the wells, individually, were not of large size either in volume or rock pressure, their aggregate resource value was considerable, because they possessed long life. Many of these wells still produce gas, but there has been a very perceptible decline both in volume and pressure.
Salt in commercial quantities was formerly produced in Meade County from brines secured from drilled wells on Otter Creek, Doe Run and the Ohio alluvial bottom near Brandenburg, but this salt water is exhausted for commercial purposes.
The surface of Meade County may be characterized as rolling throughout most of the county with limestone valleys of fine fertility.
Isolated hills and knobs in some sections were formerly valuably timbered, but most of these sections have been denuded of merchantable timber. Crop lands of the county average about 40,000 acres annually, with about 72,000 acres used for pasturage. Woodlands comprise about 33,000 acres.
The alluvial soil along the 70 miles of river front is of a particular fertility.
There are no navigable tributaries of the Ohio flowing through the county. Otter Creek, watering and draining the eastern section, is the most important tributary of the Ohio River within the boundaries of the county.
This stream played an important part in the location of the Cotton Mill at Grahamton over one hundred years ago, because the milling machinery was designed to be operated by water power. Doe Run Creek is second in importance of the streams of Meade County. In former years several flour and corn mills were located upon this stream and these mills were of immense value, not only to Meade County, but to large sections of Hardin and Breckinridge counties as they were the only places of flour, meal and feed stuff production within a radius of twenty-five miles.
These mills are no longer in operation.
Flippin Run, Cedar Branch, Wolf Creek, Watson’s Run and Spring Creek are other small streams of the county. The alluvial soils along their courses are very rich, but the streams themselves are of very small economic value.
Let us look at some of the topographical peculiarities and historical facts of Meade County.
[the next two paragraphs of Mr. Boling’s column have been omitted as they are just a listing of straight line distances between various points across the county]
Meade County is bordered on the southwest for 24.3 miles by Breckinridge County and on the south and east by Hardin County for 12.1 miles.
The center of population in Meade County is about 200 yards south of the residence of James R. Miller (1940) and the county’s geographical center is about 200 yards east of the home of Jake Hardesty.
During the early days of exploration and widely scattered settlement in Kentucky the region bordering the Ohio River from Muldraugh Hill to Green River and extending south to Tennessee was known as “The Barrens.” This name was given it because of the absence of timber and the terrain’s being covered with a coarse, tall-growing vegetation known as “Barren Grass.”
Sizable timber was unknown on the uplands, but along the Ohio River and its Kentucky tributaries there was an abundance of Beech, poplar, sycamore and other trees indigenous to water courses. Meade County being a part of “The Barrens” had no appreciable amounts of timber except along the river and creeks, where there grew plenty of poplar, beech and sycamore.
During the 1790’s the trails from Elizabethtown and Hardin’s Fort (now Hardinsburg) led to the Ohio at Brandenburg’s Ferry (now Brandenburg), also, one of these old trails led from Elizabethtown to what is now Concordia. There is much supporting evidence to prove that this is the trail (The Elizabethtown-Concordia Road) followed by Abe Lincoln when he with his father left Kentucky for Indiana in 1816.
It is well-authenticated that during the Lincoln migration the party remained for several days at the site of the “Brick House” (Dr. Burch’s estate, known in those days a Jackie’s Grove) on the present Big Spring and Brandenburg Road and upon departing followed the old road to Concordia where they crossed the Ohio River into Indiana.