Derby Days: 11 Songs About Kentucky

The Commonwealth of Kentucky.  A curious study in American affection.  Our 15th state.  Why has such a diminutive domain buried in the middle of our vast continent captured such a unique place in the American psyche?  Maybe it’s Kentucky’s distinction as a Commonwealth, one that only four other states have.  (Can you name the other three without wikihelp?)  Maybe it’s the natural beauty.  Or maybe it’s just the name Kentucky whose sound hearkens a reverence for time-honored traditions and cherished heritage.  A taste of the old South without all the baggage.

Kentucky is about horse racing, bourbon, bluegrass and college basketball.  The state even has its own genre of music.  We’ll get to that music thing in a bit.

Naturally, states like California, New York, Texas, and Florida have a distinct advantage with cities that have global cachet, offer warm winters, and beach vacations.

One thing that can be easily argued?  Kentucky definitely plays above its “flyover status” when it comes to musical adulation. Here are our Top 11 songs about (or that at least mention) Kentucky.

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Queen and Crescent: Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific Railway

We are not the experts on rail history.  We can’t even claim to know very much about Cincinnati rail history.  Several well done sites have virtually complete histories.  Sites like Cincinnati Transit Historical Association, Ronny Salerno’s Queen City Discovery, Jake Mecklenborg’s Cincinnati-Transit, West2k  and our favorite, Jeffrey Jacucyk’s Cincinnati Traction History are all wonderful resources maintained by able enthusiasts.  But when we happened upon a cache of fascinating photos from early last century, we wanted to make our little contribution to the storytelling.  Ladies and gentlemen, the Queen and Crescent Freight Depot.

Queen And Crescent Freight Depot - Cincinnati, OH
A 1914 view of the depot.  Here we are looking at the NWC of Vine and Front Streets.

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Covington, KY in 1939 by John Vachon (Part 1)

Inspired in part by cincyhisotoryluvr’s blog Digging Cincinnati History and using similar research techniques, I wanted to start some of my own. Here you’ll find the first of which I hope are entertaining and informative posts that show us what’s survived and what has not.

The Library of Congress is a treasure trove of images from yesteryear.  Exactly the kind we like here at PE.  They are the kind that document our built environment in journalistic banality but have an exquisite beauty all their own for the way they captured what has been lost and the mystery they provide.

Recently, I stumbled across three images that were new to me.  The images were taken by John Vachon while he worked as a photographer for Farm Security Administration and are probably some of the more pedestrian examples of his work.  His “Negro boy near Cincinnati” was much more remarkable as was the haunting “Worker at carbon black plant, Sunray, Texas” below.

Worker at carbon black plant, Sunray, Texas”

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