Journal of Courthouse Trips

December 31, 2003
Prior to today I had only a few random pictures of courthouses acquired on various driving excursions. I decided that this morning was to be my first "courthouse trip!" I had to be at work by 3:00, so I decided to leave early in the morning.

Up by 6:00, out the door by 7:00. It's 28 degrees and still dark out, what fun!
My plan for today is to head south on 75, get off at Georgetown and get Scott County, Franklin County, Woodford County, and Anderson County.
No problems finding Georgetown's Courthouse, but upon arrival in Franklin, all I could find was the State Capitol! I searched for a good 40 minutes, but every building in Frankfort is old and large (my usual search criteria for finding Courthouses), so I decided to move on and return here another time.

Finding Woodford and Anderson also presented no major problems. ;-)

January 1, 2004
Up by 6:00 again. Temperatures starting out in the 30s today!
I figure today is the perfect day to go courthousing. At 6:00AM the day after New Year's Eve, there was NO ONE up. Consequently, traffic was awesome! Also, it being a holiday, there was no one around any of the Courthouses to bug me. It also made it easier for me to set up my tripod, and take pictures of myself in front of the buildings. When there are people around, I feel like such a goober doing this... Anyway, no set plans for today. Just heading down to the region east of Lexington, and seeing where the road takes me.

490 miles later I've hit 9 courthouses, and driven for around 12 hours. A VERY productive day if I do say so myself.

In order of attainment
Clark County
Montgomery County
Bath County
Menifee County
Morgan County
Magoffin County
Johnson County
Floyd County
Wolfe County

Mt. Sterling (Montgomery County) was a quite depressing place. I don't know if the weather had an effect on my dour mood, but the dark, empty, seemingly run down area made me want to get out of there pretty quick. I think if it had been a sunnier day I would have enjoyed the city more. All the buildings were from the late 1880's, and the town square was all red brick cobblestone. Pretty nice now that I think back on it...

Owingsville (Bath County) was pretty small. A few nice old buildings, and a courthouse that I'm quite fond of. Also noticed a historical marker recording the birthplace of Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood. I paid my respects and moved on. Unfortunately when I hopped ok KY36 intending to head south to Frenchburg, I found myself about 10 miles north in Sharpsburg!? Grrr...

Anyway, I eventually found myself in Frenchburg (Magoffin County). This quaint little town is strung along a the bottom of a long wooded valley, nestled deep in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Though there wasn't much to the town, the atmosphere was intoxicating. I think I'll be coming back here someday just for the hell of it. (I later found out that my grandfather considered this the prettiest town in Kentucky. I was surprised to find that my grandfather had even been to this far corner of Kentucky. Kind of a neat connection to my past.)

Stopped in West Liberty (Morgan County) to buy some caffeine pills and Gatorade. Good to go for another 4 hours!

Salyersville's (Magoffin County) courthouse was under construction. Be back soon!

Johnson County's courthouse looked like a nasty old elementary school...yuck!

When I arrived in Prestonburg (Floyd County) I found the "Floyd County Justice Center" sitting prominently at the town square. I began taking my photographs and was preparing to move on, when I thought about the name of that place. "Justice Center" usually means "Jail". On a whim I began a walking search of the town. A block behind the Justice Center, and up against a wooded hill I found the true courthouse in it's no-so-prominent place. Good thing I did some added searching, as this courthouse was quite far from home, and was almost at the Virginia border!

Finally I began making my way home on the Mountain Parkway (giant speed-trap!). It was just light enough when I got to Campton (Wolfe County) that I decided to try an photograph their courthouse. Picture turned out OK, though I still think I'll return and try again.

End Boring Notes :-P

January 2, 2004
Not really courthousing today, but I am heading down to Louisville for a gunshow. Unfortunately it's raining. If it were nicer out, I'd turn this into a longer trip and get some courthouses.

Upon leaving the gunshow I noticed that the rain was slowing down. Luckily I knew where a close courthouse was, and quickly jetted over there. Though I had to take the pictures from inside my car (as the rain had picked up again) the day wasn't a total bust as I got Bullitt County. [I wonder what the locals though of me pulling up across the street from their courthouse, not getting out of my car, and taking pictures of the area with a variety of cameras. I'm sure I looked rather shady!]

January 6, 2004
Up at 5:00 AM. Dear God. Why? It's 11 Degree's outside, and it's not going to be above 29 all day. Why? Why? It's my last week of Christmas break, and so I'm using every available day to go courthousing. God knows that when the semester starts I won't have the energy to do this.

Leaving the house in the dark again, I notice that it's snowing pretty hard. Damn forecasters said it was supposed to be sunny today... No matter. At least it's not raining. My plan is to head straight south down 75 to Mt. Vernon, get off there, and make my way north on the back roads. I've got to be at the Library (work) by 5 PM, so I've got a plenty of time. I'm also stopping in Versailles (been there done that courthouse) to pick up a new rifle stock that my dad ordered from Centerfire Systems.

Arrival in Mt. Vernon found me in a veritable blizzard. The fine snow was pouring down and blowing around on the roads like sand. Somehow it wasn't pilling up though... figure that one out. Not wanting to waste time, I found the courthouse and got some quick pictures. When I returned to the car I seriously debated calling the whole trip off, as the digital (and film I surmised) pictures were turning out quite shitty. I thought I would try for one more courthouse, and if the weather hadn't improved any I would just get dad's rifle stock and go home.

Things got better :-)

The clouds COMPLETELY cleared out 20 minutes later, and left me with a gorgeous sunny day. Unfortunately it was still insanely cold. I don't think I've ever had my hands that numb, that many times in a row.

So anyway, I ended up with 6 courthouses, and a blister on my heel (Damn shoes. I wouldn't wear you if you didn't look so nice...).

Rockcastle- Mt. Vernon
Lincoln- Stanford
Garrard- Lancaster
Boyle- Danville
Mercer- Harrodsburg
Jessamine- Nicholasville

Round Trip ~360 Miles.
Food Stop KFC Buffet $7 Rank 1.5 Stars.

January 19, 2004
Itís MLK day, so all my classes are cancelled. Iím leaving home by 5:30, so Iíll be the first one out. My plan is to head down past Louisville, and collect some of the courthouses in the Ft. Knox region. Iím marginally familiar with this area, as Iíve recently been down here for other assorted trips (weddings, hunting trips, etc.)

The morning finds me driving in light snow, despite forecasts of sunny skies. This is becoming a patternÖ

First stop: Brandenburg, Meade County. Nice roads leading into the quaint little town. Everythingís pretty dead around here (MLK day I guessÖ?), but I like it this way because thereís no one around to bother me. Nonetheless, I donít stay long since itís soooo cold.

Into Radcliff through the back door. Get gas, use the bathroom, start looking for the courthouse by driving around town. Then I drive around some moreÖand some more. Now Iím aggravated. Where is it?! Radcliff isnít that big, itís mostly Army personnel suburbs. GrrrrÖ time to ask for directions. In the course of my driving I noticed a REAL coffeehouse downtown (a rarity), in which I had already planned to stop. So I go in and order a grande mocha, and try to make small talk with the cute girl behind the counter. ;-) Sheís too shy to chit-chat with me, so I give up and just ask her where the courthouse is. She gives me directions which sound simple enough, so I leave the coffeehouse rather optimisticÖ I drove that stupid route 10 times and never ended up anywhere near a courthouse! By now Iím seriously aggravated. I never have to ask for directions, but this town is bringing me to my knees. I even tried raising someone on one of the regions two 2-Meter Repeaters. Getting no response, and noticing that my time was rapidly running out (still had to be at work by 5), I made a gut-wrenching decision. :-) Move on and resign myself to returning here sometime in the future. (Iím always down this way. Hell, half the reason I came down to this region today was so I could stop in one of the many Army Surplus stores buy some dogtags for my friend Jillís nephew.)

So I give up on Radcliff and head south to Elizabethtown (Hardin County). Easy find, except it starts snowing and screws up my pictures. Luckily the snow didnít start to build up. It was weird though, since it was snowing and sunny at the same time. Very neat.

Finally I head over to Bardstown (Nelson County). I love their old courthouse (which was undergoing internal remodeling), but I found out it was not currently in use. A quick stroll over to the ĎVisitor Information Centerí (why Bardstown has one of these, I donít know) and I find out that the new ĎJustice Centerí just down the road. Wicked. I like Justice Centers. So I take pictures there, take a quick pass of ďMy Old Kentucky Home State ShrineĒ (Huh?), and roll home. Good trip.

Courthouse Summary
Meade County
Hardin County
Nelson County

January 23, 2004
Not really out courthousing today. Just going for a drive, and hoping to play a little radio along the ridge that KY-10 is on. Happened in on Brooksville (Bracken County) while the digital camera was in the car. I took some quick pics for the website, but Iíll have to come back with the SLR camera. Luckily itís not too far from home.

Sadly, this was my last courthouse trip with Old Blue. :-( It wasnít too many weeks later that his transmission decided to give out. I loved that car. It gave me the passion to drive that still motivates me today. Iíve put together a memorial page for Old Blue here. His successor, Black Beauty, is also shown at the bottom there. (Link Coming Soon)

February 13, 2004
I wonít go into too many of the personal reasons for this spontaneous courthouse trip today, as Iíll leave that for my LiveJournal. This trip originated as just a foggy notion to head down towards Ashland and collect some courthouses. Iíve been wanting to visit that part of the state for a while, but for some reason I never have.

I head down the AA (Alexandria-Ashland , or KY-9) highway and eventually end up on KY-10, and KY-8 down by the river. By now the sun is up, and my spirits are lifted. First stop, the City of Greenup, in Greenup County. I love, love, love this courthouse and downtown area! Beautiful architecture, and an awesome view of the river. This might be another one of those places I come back to Ďjust for the hell of ití.

Heading south on US-23 takes me to I-64. OI think, what the hell, Huntington, WV is just over the river. So I whip out my trusty KY atlas just to verify everything, and I notice I just rolled right through a county seat! Ooops. Double back into Boyd County, and hit the courthouse in Catlettsburg. Another nice courthouse, and downtown. Iím really liking this part of the stateÖ

Now that Iím in downtown Catlettsburg, I decide to forgo the interstate and just take US-60 east into WV. Huntington was a big town, with bad traffic and bad road layouts. Their county courthouse was nice and large, with an impressive gold dome. Apparently this is some sort of theme in West Virginia, as their State Capitol also has a gold dome.

Returning to KY on I-64 I came to Grayson (Carter County). School was just letting out, so traffic was bad, and that made it hard to get through downtown to find the courthouse. I eventually ended up on the north side of town in front of a courthouse that VERY closely resembled that of West Liberty (Morgan County). Not a bad looking place. Took some digital pics with the Sony, and some Black and Whiteís with the Minolta.

South on KY-7 takes me through one of Kentuckyís Lake State Parks. Very Pretty. I also head through construction of some sort of new correctional facility (wish I had taken pictures). Tons and tons of razor wire, with buildings surrounding a central courtyard, and a tower in the middle. Iíll have to ask my corrections professor if she knows whatís going on down there.

Next stop: Sandy Hook (Elliot County). Neat little place. Very hilly. Plain, bland, new courthouse. Took some pics, walked around a little, moved on.

Final destination: Morehead (Rowan County). College town. Old railroad town. It was cloudy and getting dark, so that probably contributed to my negative impression of the place. Iíll admit it had a neat location down in the bottom of a large valley.

Finally on to Lexington (too dark for a Courthouse picture), a stop for some Mc Food, and home.

Greenup County
Boyd County
Huntington, WV
Carter County
Elliot County
Rowan County

Round Trip: ~400 Miles

February 29, 2004
[Editors Note: This entry is being added almost 10 months after the actual trip, from memory- Hence, it will be short... 12/04/2004]
Today's trip is the longest and farthest to date. Heading all the way down to the south east corner of the state, and planning to hit as many as possible. Hope to get about 7 or 8.

But, BUT, I make awesome time throughout the day, and end up with 11. IN ONE DAY. And these are valuable courthouses. (A courthouse's value is determined by the distance from home, difficulty in finding it, and likelyhood of returning- Hence, south east KY courthouses are valuable, though I certainly do hope to return as the terrain was very beautiful.)

So after my amazing marathon, I ended up with these 11 counties (In Order):
Laurel County
Clay County
Leslie County
Perry County
Letcher County
Harlan County
Bell County
Knox County
Whitley County
McCreary County
Pulaski County

This was the longest trip to date, and quite possibly the most enjoyable. If I can find my road notes, I'll add more details.

December 29, 2004
Getting a late start today; out the door by 8:00 AM. Two reasons. First, Iím just taking a short trip today, because Iíve got bigger plans this weekend. Second, Iím kinda hung over...

My plan is to head down the AA Highway (KY-9) to Vanceburg (Lewis County) and work my way NW and collect about 4-5 counties if possible. Thereís also a chance of rain today, so I donít want to get to ambitious.

I make good time down the AA and get to Vanceburg at about 9:20. All goes well, I spot the courthouse easily, but suddenly Iíve got to pee like mad. I canít find any gas stations with bathrooms (granted, there are only 2), or restaurants either. I ponder going behind the little IGA grocery for a quick piss, but there are people everywhere! I try to find a park, or an empty alley, but everywhere I go there are hunched over old men ambling aimlessly around! Frantically, I make a mad dash out of town until I find a quasi empty spot which is partially shielded from the AA. Quickly park the car, leave it running, and dash over to this roadside clearing where there are a few little cedar trees that I pretend to be studying while peeing (on them). Dirty deed done, a quick jaunt has me back in downtown Vanceburg.

And let me just make a quick note about Vanceburg: Iíll bet that it was a grand city at one time. There are plenty of large and architecturally intriguing buildings, the city is laid out very well, and it had a still somewhat vibrant main street paralleling the very active railroad line. But its glory days were over. Around the periphery of the town, and especially at the North end, I felt like I was in Bosnia. I mean, there were bombed out buildings, destroyed roads, graffiti, and dejected looking people. Dejected looking people that stared at you as you drove by... Made me glad to have a loaded piece of steel ridiní on my hip.
But anyway, downtown wasnít so bad. And with 1, 2, 3 Courthouse pictures from different angles, I was done. I pondered a quick shot at the Justice Center next door, but the crowd of deputies smoking on the front steps quickly dissuades me from that course of action. Itís never good to be an armed Ďforeignerí in a little mountain town, taking pictures of the jailÖ

Done with Lewis County, I headed south on KY-59 to KY-344 to KY-377. Got that? Anyway, my destination was the northernmost part of the Daniel Boone National Forest, where I wanted to see the start of the Sheltowee Trace trail. It runs all the way to Tennessee, and follows a part of a path that Daniel Boone, aka Sheltowee or "Big Turtle" in the Shawnee language, took en route to save Fort Boonesborough. Being the super-patriot (in regards to KY history) I got my picture at the trailhead. And took another pee. Stupid anti-hangover water...

Backtrack north to KY-344 again, and head west to Flemingsburg (Fleming County). En route I stopped to take a picture of the Wallingford (41093) Post Office for the website.

Flemingsburg is a decent size town, and much more active than Vanceburg. The courthouse is up on top of a hill, and is surrounded by a roundabout much like those in other county seats of KY (Elizabethtown and Bardstown come to mind). Quick pictures, and I jet west on KY-32, but not before a quick stop for some McFood, where I run into a crowd of not so quick construction technicians. Hoo boy, these were almost too stereotypical hillbillies. I donít know what holler they found these guys in, but I almost couldnít understand a word they were saying. And Iíve encountered some thick accents in my journeys!

After I ate my standard McFood order (2 doubles and 2 pies), I planned to head south in to Nicholas County after a quick stop at Blue Licks Battlefield (last battle of the American Revolution). After I peed (again) and paid my respect at the monument and graves, I prepared to turn south. However, I then received a phonecall from my father in which I was informed that the water-pump in his car had just died, and he wanted to know if I could come help him. Of course I could, for as an Eagle Scout, I must always " other people at all times..."

So, at 1:15 PM, Courthouse trip #12292004 was aborted. US-68 to KY-9, with an ETA of 2:45.

County count, 2.
Fleming County
Lewis County

January, 2005

Story + Pictures coming soon.
Summary:  Extreme Eastern Kentucky (Pikeville and more) with a friend.

August 13-16, 2005

Spending a couple days vacationing with my family in and around Mammoth Cave.  Figure while I'm in the beginnings of Western Kentucky (3+ hours from home), I'll hit some courthouses.  I have almost nothing from this part of the state, so I'm excited to get some pictures.

The first courthouse I hit is Hart County (Munfordville), which we stumble across it after having breakfast at "Country Fixin's" (excellent biscuits and gravy, btw).

That afternoon we had some time to kill before our lantern-tour of Onyx Cave, so I took the car while they rested at the cabin.  Headed by myself through the National Park to Edmonson County (Brownsville) and poked around town looking for the Courthouse.  It's off the main KY highway, so it took a couple minutes of searching before I found the UGLY building.  Not much of a town square, but at the end of the city there is a very nice, long bridge over the Green River.

On our last day of vacation we were in Bowling Green looking for something to do, and someplace to eat.  Looked for the Courthouse upon entering the city, but a network of one-way streets and rush-hour traffic made the search difficult.  We accidentally found a Federal Courthouse first, though it wasn't long after that we stumbled across the County building.  The Warren County (Bowling Green) Courthouse was so big, and was surrounded by so many large buildings that it was impossible to get a full shot of it.  That, and I had people waiting back at the car, so I couldn't put as much effort into it as I wanted.  I'll probably end up trying again someday, since I need most of the surrounding counties here too.


County List
Copyright © 2004. Justin Meyer
Revised August 23, 2005