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Portal:Kentucky

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The Commonwealth of Kentucky /kɪnˈtʌki/ (About this sound listen) is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth (the others being Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts). Originally a part of Virginia, in 1792 it became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is the 37th largest state in terms of total area, the 36th largest in land area, and ranks 26th in population.

Kentucky is known as the "Bluegrass State", a nickname based on the fact that native bluegrass is present in many of the pastures throughout the state, based on the fertile soil. It made possible the breeding of high-quality livestock, especially thoroughbred racing horses. It is a land with diverse environments and abundant resources, including the world's longest cave system, Mammoth Cave National Park; the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the Lower 48 states; and the two largest man-made lakes east of the Mississippi River. It is also home to the highest per capita number of deer and turkey in the United States, the largest free-ranging elk herd east of Montana, and the nation's most productive coalfield. Kentucky is also known for thoroughbred horses, horse racing, bourbon distilleries, bluegrass music, automobile manufacturing, tobacco and college basketball.

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The History of slavery in Kentucky dates from the earliest permanent European settlements in the state until the end of the Civil War. Although Kentucky was generally classified as the Upper South or a Border state, rather than the Deep South, enslaved African-Americans made up a substantial percentage of the population. Early Kentucky history was built on the labor of slavery, and it was an integral part of the state. From 1790 to 1860 the slave population of Kentucky was never more than one quarter of the total population, with lower percentages after 1830. Slave populations were greatest in the central "bluegrass" region of the state, which was rich in farmland. In 1850, 23 percent of Kentucky's white males held enslaved African Americans.

Early visitors to Kentucky brought their slaves with them in the 1750s and 1760s. As permanent settlers started arriving in the late 1770s, they held slaves in the station (fort) based settlements. Settlers, often from Virginia, continued to rely on slave labor as they established more permanent farms.

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Wolf Creek Dam and Lake Cumberland, KY.jpg
Photo credit: A. Aspie
Lake Cumberland is the largest artificial lake, in terms of volume, east of the Mississippi River.

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Paducah is the county seat of McCracken County, located at the confluence of the Tennessee River and the Ohio River. The population was 26,307 at the 2000 census. Paducah is the largest city in the Jackson Purchase Region of Western Kentucky. It is one of two cities named Paducah located in the United States. The other Paducah is in the state of Texas, near the panhandle, and was named after Paducah, Kentucky. Originally called Pekin, it began around 1815 as a mixed community of Native Americans and white settlers who were attracted by its location at the confluence of many waterways.

According to legend, Chief Paduke, most likely a Chickasaw, welcomed the people traveling down the Ohio and Tennessee on flatboats. His wigwam, located on a low bluff at the mouth of Island Creek, served as the counsel lodge for his village. The settlers, appreciative of his hospitality, and respectful of his ways, settled across the creek. The two communities lived in harmony trading goods and services enjoying the novelty of each other's culture. The settlers had brought horses and mules which they used to pull the flatboats upstream to farms, logging camps, trading posts and other settlements along the waterways, establishing a primitive, but thriving economy.

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Bourbon County Confederate Monument

Kentucky Official Symbols

On this day in Kentucky history...

Quotes

"I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky." -- Abraham Lincoln

"I was brought up to believe that Scotch whisky would need a tax preference to survive in competition with Kentucky bourbon." -- Hugo Black

"Tough girls come from New York. Sweet girls, they're from Georgia. But us Kentucky girls, we have fire and ice in our blood. We can ride horses, be a debutante, throw left hooks, and drink with the boys, all the while making sweet tea, darlin'. And if we have an opinion, you know you're gonna hear it." -- Ashley Judd

"Soon after, I returned home to my family, with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise, at the risk of my life and fortune." -- Daniel Boone

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Mammoth Cave National Park is a U.S. National Park in central Kentucky, encompassing portions of Mammoth Cave, the most elongated cave system known in the world. The official name of the system is the Mammoth Cave System for the ridge under which the cave has formed. The park was established as a national park on July 1, 1941. It became a World Heritage Site on October 27, 1981, and an international Biosphere Reserve on September 26, 1990.

The guide traditions at Mammoth Cave date back to the period just after the War of 1812, and to guides such as Stephen Bishop. The style of this humor itself is part of the living tradition of the cave guides, and is duly a part of the interpretive program.

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John Hunt Morgan (June 1, 1825 – September 4, 1864) was a Confederate general and cavalry officer in the American Civil War. He led 2,460 troops in a daring raid, called Morgan's Raid, racing past Union lines into Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio in July 1863. This was the farthest north any uniformed Confederate troops penetrated during the war.

Morgan and his cavalrymen fought at the Battle of Shiloh and he soon became a symbol to secessionists in their hopes for obtaining Kentucky for the Confederacy. A Louisiana writer, Robert D. Patrick, compared Morgan to Francis Marion and wrote that "a few thousands of such men as his would regain us Kentucky and Tennessee."

He unnerved Kentucky's Union military government and President Lincoln received so many frantic appeals for help that he complained that "they are having a stampede in Kentucky."

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