Kentucky celebrates 100 years of state parks at Old State Capitol

Published 3:45 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2024

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The front steps of the Old State Capitol, on West Broadway in downtown Frankfort, was the site of an event to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Kentucky State Parks System.

The Old State Capitol, which now serves as a museum, played a significant role as a backdrop in establishing the Kentucky State Parks system. In 1924, State Geological Surveyor Dr. Willard Rouse Jillson, who led the first state parks commission, delivered a historic speech there to members of the General Assembly in which he underscored the importance of acquiring and preserving natural parks for the enjoyment of future generations.

In 1926, Pine Mountain, Natural Bridge, Fort Harrod and the now-closed Blue and Gray were recognized in the legislative record as the first four Kentucky State Parks.

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Gov. Andy Beshear told the gathering there are numerous state parks sites that attract visitors from across Kentucky and beyond.

“Natural Bridge, where people come to see the famous rock formation and hike the Red River Gorge. Or Pime Mountain, where there is nothing more beautiful than hiking Chain Rock in the fall. Or Cumberland Falls, which houses our Niagara of the South, where you can see the luminous moonbow, one of the few places in the world where people can witness this miraculous and wonderful sight.”

Kentucky is now home to 44 state parks, including 17 resort parks and 13 golf courses, with breathtaking views of mountain ranges, waterfalls, wildlife, scenic hiking trails, caves to explore, fishing, boating, kayaking, nationally recognized golf courses, camping, lodges, historic sites, museums and more offering opportunities for exploration, entertainment and education to Kentuckians and visitors from across the world.

Along with their natural, historic and economic significance, Gov. Beshear has used Kentucky State Parks and their dedicated teams to respond to tornadoes, flooding and other natural disasters by opening their doors to Kentuckians during difficult times.

“For a century, Kentucky State Parks have served visitors from within the Commonwealth and beyond, imprinting memories on generations of children who have grown up to bring their own families to visit,” said Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Lindy Casebier. “Parks are integral to tourism, while also supplying jobs and supporting nearby businesses such as restaurants, retail and recreational facilities.”

For more information about Kentucky State Parks, visit