kcwsa/kentucky civil war sites association

Leslie Morris Park on Fort Hill

Leslie Morris Park on Fort Hill is a 125-acre woodland that overlooks downtown Frankfort – Kentucky’s capital city. The park preserves two Civil War earthworks.

Fort Boone was built in 1863. Local militiamen fought off an attack by a detachment of John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate raiders from behind its walls in June, 1864. Fort Boone now provides visitors with a spectacular view of the downtown Frankfort historic district.

A more formidable earthwork – the New Redoubt or New Fort Boone – was built shortly after that attack.

Ironically, much of the construction work on these forts, which were intended to protect pro-Union Kentucky state government and bridges across the Kentucky River, was done by slave labor. These earthworks and the 1864 skirmish site are accessible by way of walking trails, and they are explained by a system of interpretive panels and brochures.

The park’s visitor center – an 1810 log structure known as the Sullivan House – provides exhibits about Frankfort in the Civil War. Much of that building has been renovated to depict a Civil War roadside inn, and visitors can experience rural Kentucky hospitality as it was in the middle of the 19th Century.

The City of Frankfort’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Sites operates the Leslie Morris Park on Fort Hill. Guided tours of the park’s historic area are available from 11:00AM to 5:00PM on weekdays from Memorial Day through Halloween. The park is open to vehicular traffic during daylight hours year round except on Frankfort city government holidays.

There is no charge for admission to the park or for guided tours. Special programs and living history demonstrations are held at various times during the year. The always popular “Ghosts of Frankfort Tour” passes through the park on the last weekend of October. A recently developed network of nature trails allows visitors to stroll through much of the park’s extensive forest. Flora, fauna, as well as historic and geologic features are explained by wayside interpretive panels. The park’s Gippy Graham Pavilion offers shelter to picnickers, and the visitor center provides restrooms.

While in Frankfort, Civil War enthusiasts can visit many other locales associated with that conflict. Frankfort was the only pro-Union state capital occupied by the Confederate Army. The Kentucky Historical Society has extensive Civil War holdings in the Kentucky Military History Museum and the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. The Old State Capitol, now a museum depicting the antebellum seat of Kentucky state government, was the site of strategically important decisions about the war and of the installation of the Confederate governor of Kentucky. The New Capitol contains statues of Kentucky native sons Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. Many distinguished veterans lie in the beautiful Frankfort Cemetery. Self-guided tours of Frankfort Civil War sites are available at the Capital City Museum at 325 Ann Street.

For information about Civil War Frankfort, call the city’s Curator of Historic Sites at 502-696-0607 or email frankforthistory@yahoo.com.

Nicky Hughes
Curator of Historic Sites
City of Frankfort

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