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Bluegrass region of Kentucky

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The Bluegrass region

(Shawnee: Eskippakithiki) is an eight-county geographic region in the U.S. state of Kentucky. It makes up the northern part of the state where a majority of the state's population has lived and developed its largest cities.

Kentucky regions


Kentucky can be divided into five primary regions:

  • the Cumberland Plateau in the east,
  • the north-central Bluegrass region,
  • the south-central and western Pennyroyal Plateau (also known as the Pennyrile or Mississippi Plateau),
  • the Western Coal Fields and
  • the far-west Jackson Purchase.

Resource: "Regions of Kentucky" Prezi presentation

from Wikipedia

Before settlement, the region was mostly a savannah of wide grasslands with interspersed enormous oak trees. It contained large herds of bison and other wildlife, especially near salt licks. The name "Kentucky" means "meadow lands" in several different Indian languages and was specifically applied to this region. Europeans adopted it to apply to the state.

By 1800 planters noticed that horses grazed in the Bluegrass region were more hardy than those from other regions; this is due to the high content of calcium in the soil. Within decades of increased settlement, the remaining herds of bison had moved west. Thoroughbred horse breeding was developed here, as well as other quality livestock. Kentucky livestock was driven to Tennessee and other areas of the Ohio valley for sale.

Planters, supported by slave labor, also cultivated hemp, tobacco and grapes. The first commercial winery in the United States was opened in the Bluegrass region in 1801 in present-day Jessamine County by a group of Swiss immigrants.

From The Bluegrass Heritage Museum

This was America's first Western frontier and it attracted colorful adventurers like Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton, whose real-life escapades could only be exceeded by the imagination of a Hollywood screen writer.

This region is the burley tobacco capital of the world. No other museum in America tells the storied history of how this crop not only helped shape the American economy, but formed a specific culture and way of life that continues to this day. Contrasted against the small family tobacco farms are the vast grasslands and ornate mansions of the region's thoroughbred horse farms.

The ancestors of these largely agricultural families first came to Kentucky on the Wilderness Trail, which led them straight to Boonesborough and what would become Winchester, Kentucky. They created a major riverboat industry with barges and flatboats that transported lumber from the vast virgin forest of Eastern Kentucky and provided a new nation with what seemed like a never-ending supply of wood and coal. These tremendous stocks of raw materials were shipped throughout America by rail and an intricate system of tracks that spread from the eastern coalfields to the Bluegrass. That history continues to this day with the Interstate Highway system that cuts through the heart of the region.


Bill Monroe, considered the "Father of bluegrass music", named his band the Blue Grass Boys after his home state. He was from Rosine in western Kentucky. The music takes its name from that band, and hence from the state's nickname rather than the region.


15 counties make up the Bluegrass Region; the county seat is listed after the county name.

  • Anderson, (Lawrenceburg)
  • Bourbon (Paris)
  • Boyle (Danville)
  • Clark (Winchester)
  • Fayette (Lexington)
  • Franklin (Frankfort)
  • Garrard (Lancaster)
  • Harrison (Cynthiana)
  • Jessamine (Nicholasville)
  • Lincoln (Stanford)
  • Madison (Richmond/Berea)
  • Mercer (Harrodsburg)
  • Nicholas (Carlisle)
  • Scott (Georgetown)
  • Woodford (Versailles/Midway)


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