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Bowling Green, Kentucky

Bowling Green, Kentucky


Bowling Green, Kentucky's centralized location and unique geography appeals to many travelers... both presently and in the past. Known as the 'Gibraltar of the West,' 'The City of Fortifications,' and the official Confederate Capital of Kentucky from September 1861 until February 1862, Bowling Green played an important role in the Civil War.

The area's productive farms and its ample quantities of fresh water promised plentiful supplies for an army of thousands. Access to the Louisville-Nashville Railroad, a system of roadways and the Barren River allowed for quick and efficient movement of men and supplies. Rolling hills and underground shelters offered effective opportunities to defend those transportation routes.

These valuable geographic traits made the area a strategic post that both camps wanted to control, and now visitors can be entertained as they have a Civil War Experience and learn about the time when "The War Came to Bowling Green".

Civil War Discovery Trail

Visitors can explore the area’s significant sites by traveling the Civil War Discovery Trail to eighteen destinations including three museums, a cave, a cemetery, fort remains, and numerous historical markers and wayside exhibits.

Hear insights and unique perspectives of the war, many from women and children, by listening to the Trail’s accompanying audio tour. Historical markers interpret interesting facts throughout the city and kids can enjoy a letterbox hunt at many of the sites!

The city of Bowling Green will commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War with special events on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at four area attractions. It was on this date in 1861 that the Confederate army invaded Bowling Green. In addition to the ongoing activities listed below, participants will experience re-enactments, an exhibit opening, special presentations and displays, a walking Ghost Tour, and costumed interpreters on this day.

The Kentucky Museum

The Kentucky Museum on Western Kentucky University's campus has on display "A Star in Each Flag: Conflict in Kentucky," an educational exhibit that encourages guests to explore the divided loyalties of regional families and the lives of slaves in Kentucky. Walk through a simulated campsite, Victorian photo studio and a community post office. Examine period artifacts including John Hunt Morgan’s saddle, an original copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriett Beecher Stowe, actual letters between Kentucky residents, medical instruments, Civil War flags, weapons and more.

Historic Railpark & Train Museum

This two-story interactive museum housed in the 1925 L&N Depot features the "Lincoln and the Railroad" exhibit containing rare Matthew Brady Civil War railroad photos.  Also of interest are permanent exhibits ‘Segregation and the North American Railroad’ in the original Colored Waiting Room and ‘The Great Locomotive Chase’ displaying a Civil War Medal of Honor.  In the fall of 2011, the Train Museum will debut a ‘Civil War and the Railroad’ exhibit.

Lost River Cave & Valley

Explore more Civil War secrets underground at Lost River Cave & Valley to hear stories of both camps hiding out and the mysterious deaths of soldiers there.  Lost River offered a natural water supply, and the beauty of the cave provided a diversion from the ugliness of war. It is believed that on one of his “lightning raids” into Kentucky, John Hunt Morgan hid in the cave when escaping from pursuing troops.  Escape from daylight by taking the cave’s tour by boat.

Riverview at Hobson Grove

Construction of the hilltop home began in the late 1850s, but was temporarily halted by the Civil War.  The partially completed home became a munitions magazine while the Confederates held Bowling Green during the winter of 1861-62. Riverview was finally completed in 1872. A tour of this Historic House & Museum offers an elegant interpretation of a prosperous Victorian home.

Learn more by visiting and get discounted admission to these attractions plus the Shaker Museum at South Union by purchasing a Civil War All-Access Pass. A free download of the interpretive audio tour and a PDF of the Civil War Discovery Trail brochure are available on the site, or physical copies may be picked up at the Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau located on Three Springs Road, just off Scottsville Road from exit number 22 of Interstate 65.

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