The Land Of Swinging Bridges
Stay In Clay County Kentucky
 

The Land of Swinging Bridges

Though Clay County is bent on looking forward and progressing toward a bright new future, Clay Countians everywhere keep in their heart romantic images of their past.

Nothing evokes such notions as do the county's numerous swinging bridges across Goose Creek, Red Bird and the South Fork rivers. The brooding colors of the old bridges are the very stuff of soulful memories, and are worth seeking out as you drive around the county.

A suspension bridge is an early type of bridge that is supported entirely from anchors at either end, suspended from two high locations over a river or canyon. This type of bridge is also known as a rope bridge due to its historical construction based on the ancient Inca rope bridge.

A good many of Clay County's historic bridges remain, but many have succumbed to aging and are continuing to do so year after year.

Keep your camera handy as you pass these reminders of a simpler time. It may be your last chance.

RULES: Always be mindful of all private property at the end of the bridges on both sides. Do not litter, do not bounce or jump on the bridges. The bridges restrictions are; no more than 4 people or a total weight of 800 lbs. are allowed on the bridges at one time.

Visitor’s Center – Take the Manchester Exit 21 on Hal Rogers Parkway. Turn left if traveling East and turn right if traveling West. Make the first left turn into the Manchester Square Shopping Center. Continue straight and look for Visitor’s Center sign on the building above its entrance.

  • Goose Creek Swinging Bridge – From the Visitor’s Center, exit parking lot at McDonalds and get in the left turning lane at 1st light then turn right at 2n d light (go across big concrete bridge.) At end of bridge turn left onto Hwy 2432. Take first drive to the left onto Riverside Trail.
  • Frazier Road Swinging Bridge – From the Visitor’s Center, exit parking lot at McDonalds, get in left turning lane at light - travel on Hwy 421N. Stay on Hwy 421 thru town which will take you thru the next 3 lights, then travel 6 miles to the intersection of Hwy 11 & 421. Turn North(right) on Hwy 11 for 4 miles to Frazier Road on the right. (if you see mile marker 13 – YOU JUST PASSED IT!!) Go 4/10 of a mile stay right to continue Frazier Rd. Bridge is on the left.
  • Old Homeplace Swinging Bridge – From the Visitor’s Center, exit parking lot at McDonalds, get in left turning lane at light - travel on Hwy 421N. Stay on Hwy 421 thru town which will take you thru the next 3 lights, then travel 6 miles to the intersection of Hwy 11 & 421. Travel 5 miles to Old Homeplace Swinging Bridge on your right( across from Vinland Gas Co).
  • OBI Swinging Bridge – From the Visitor’s Center, exit parking lot at McDonalds, get in left turning lane at light - travel on Hwy 421N. Stay on Hwy 421 thru town which will take you thru the next 3 lights, then travel 6 miles to the intersection of Hwy 11 & 421. Travel 11 miles to the intersection of Hwy 11 & 66 when you see the US Post Office turn right. You are on the campus of Oneida Baptist Institute. Ask someone where the Swinging Bridge is located.
  • Rocky Branch Swinging Bridge – From the Visitor’s Center, exit parking lot at McDonalds, get in left turning lane at light - travel on Hwy 421N. Stay on Hwy 421 thru town which will take you thru the next 3 lights, then travel 6 miles to the intersection of Hwy 11 & 421. Turn right travel 11 miles(watch for Booneville sign) then turn left , take Hwy 11 North, travel approximately 5 miles to Rocky Branch Rd on the right. Travel approx. 2 miles to the Rocky Branch Swinging Bridge which crosses the South Fork of the KY River. 
  • Sexton’s Creek Swinging Bridge – From the Visitor’s Center, exit parking lot at McDonalds, get in left turning lane at light - travel on Hwy 421N. Stay on Hwy 421 thru town which will take you thru the next 3 lights, then travel 6 miles to the intersection of Hwy 11 & 421. Proceed thru the intersection travel Hwy 421N for 10 miles to Hwy 577. Travel on Hwy 577 for 9.5 miles to the swinging bridge. The bridge is on the right.
  • Farmer Road (Red Bird) Swinging Bridge – From the Visitor’s Center, exit parking lot at Rite Aide /Walgreens (turning right) take the Hal Rogers Parkway East toward Hazard, take Big Creek exit. Turn right onto Hwy 66, travel .6 miles then turn right onto Hwy 80, travel .8 miles then turn left on Hwy 66, travel 4 miles, bridge on the left.
  • Bar (Bear) Creek Swinging Bridge – From the Visitor’s Center, exit parking lot at RiteAide/Walgreens (turning right) take the Hal Rogers Parkway East toward Hazard, take Big Creek Exit, turn left onto Hwy 66, travel approx. 6.9 miles, the bridge is on the left. DO NOT TRY TO CROSS THIS BRIDGE -UNDER CONSTRUCTION– ENJOY THE VIEW.
  • Laurel Branch Rd Swinging Bridge – From the Visitor’s Center, exit parking lot at RiteAide/Walgreens (turning right) take the Hal Rogers Parkway East toward Hazard, take Big Creek exit. Turn left onto Hwy 66, travel approx. 7.8 miles, turn left onto Laurel Branch Rd, when you cross the bridge, you will see the swinging bridge is on the left DO NOT TRY TO CROSS THIS BRIDGE – UNDER CONSTRUCTION – ENJOY THE VIEW.
  • Antepast Swinging Bridge – From the Visitor’s Center, exit parking lot at Rite Aide/Walgreens (turning right) take the Hal Rogers Parkway East toward Hazard, take Big Creek Exit, turn left onto Hwy 66, travel 8.4 miles, church is on the left side of the road – look for Antepast Church sign. Bridge is located next to church. NOTE: Please be respectful and quiet if Church services are in session.
  • Martin Cemetery Rd Swinging Bridge – From the Visitor’s Center, exit parking lot at Riteaide/Walgreens (turning right) take the Hal Rogers Parkway E toward Hazard, take Big Creek exit. Turn left onto Hwy 66, travel approx. 9 miles, the bridge is on the left. DO NOT TRY TO CROSS THIS BRIDGE – UNDER CONSTRUCTION - ENJOY THE VIEW.
  • Antioch Church Swinging Bridge – From the Visitor’s Center, exit parking lot at McDonalds, get in straight thru lane. Travel Hwy 421 until you see over pass, turn right at the light onto Hwy 11, travel 8.3 miles, bridge is on the left side of the road. DO NOT TRY TO CROSS THIS BRIDGE – UNDER CONSTRUCTION – ENJOY THE VIEW.

Historic Weathered Barns of Clay County

While visiting the swinging bridges of Clay County, enjoy the many historic barns located throughout Clay's back country.

Proud guardian of the countryside, the barn stands solemnly as a lasting reminder of America's rural heritage. But the barn has begun to disappear from the American landscape. Obsolete for modern farming needs and too expensive to maintain as family heirlooms, old barns appear destined to be preserved only in photographs and memories.

Old farm buildings of the countryside contribute to the landscape, and help define the history of the location, i.e. how farming was carried out in the past, and how the area has been settled throughout the ages. They also can show the agricultural methods, building materials, and skills that were used. Most were built with materials reflecting the local geology of the area.

Barns are working buildings; they are the largest tool on a farm. Like any tool, their shape and size reflects the way in which they are used. Just as the tip of a screwdriver will tell what type of screw it is meant to be used with, a barn's shape, size and attributes reflect the job it was intended to do.

As farming practices developed over time, the types of barns that farmers built also changed. Although family farms continue to operate as suppliers for local population centers, the middle of the twentieth century heralded the decline of small farms. Changes in the way American's ate, increasing property values, and the growth of giant agribusinesses meant that family farms had a difficult time making a living. As farms went out of business, many of their barns became unused. Since the buildings were no longer needed, they were no longer maintained. The result was demolition by neglect.

Another threat to the farms and barns also appeared in the second half of the 20th century - development. Since the farms could no longer generate enough income through their produce, a new way of getting money out of the land was sought. The result was the process, which continues today, of turning farmland into developments that have no place for a barn.

Today, a renewed awareness for the important place of barns in America's past and present is making progress in preserving this physical reminder of our agricultural heritage.

Just as the mountains have served to isolate the Clay County area, preserving forests, waterways and wildlands, they have also helped to protect our countryside from the development that has plagued much of America's farmland. As a result, historic barns are a common site in and around Clay County.

Clay County Kentucky Quilt Trail

There is a quality about quilts that evokes a feeling of comfort, of home and family. Quilting is a tradition that thrives in Kentucky, not as a nostalgic reminder of days gone by, but as a vibrant part of community life.

Grandmothers still sew quilts for grandchildren; quilters still get together to share patterns and gossip; family members still cherish the quilts that were made for them by loving hands.

In the past, quilts might have been seen warming a bed, gracing a couch or flapping on a clothesline, but with the advent of the Kentucky Quilt Trail, images of quilts now blossom as bright patterns on the sides of weathered barns and other buildings across the commonwealth.

The Quilt Trail project began in Adams County, Ohio, when Donna Sue Groves, a field representative for the Ohio Arts Council, decided that she wanted a quilt square painted on her barn to honor her mother, a lifelong quilter. Donna Sue shared her idea with friends in the community, who offered their help. They decided that if they were going to paint one quilt square on a barn, they might as well paint twenty and create a driving tour to attract tourists to their rural community. The project was such a success that word of it traveled quickly, and soon other communities were contacting Donna Sue asking if they could join in the project. Donna Sue offered her enthusiastic support. 

The Quilt Trail project has taken deep root in Kentucky and spread quickly. The project has spread as a grassroots movement with each community introducing its own twist, painting quilt squares not only on barns, but also on floodwalls, craft shops and restaurants.

Volunteer leaders and painters include extension agents, teachers, school children, senior citizens, homemaking clubs and tourism committees. The local utility company often provides a bucket truck and workers, who hang the quilts on barns, delighted to be part of this heartwarming community project. 

Many Kentucky literary artists weave the imagery of quilts throughout their stories and poems as symbols of family unity through hard times or as an expression of the connection that Kentuckians feel to their home-place. Kentucky painters often include quilts in their landscapes.

Discover the Clay County Kentucky Quilt trail on your travels throughout Clay County...including its towns, hamlets and countryside.

Join The Movement

"Stay In Clay" is comprised of progressive Clay County residents who have come together to cross all boundaries of race, economic, and social class, to empower our people, bond our community, and strengthen our local economy...to move Clay County forward with pride and purpose.

Stay in Clay is a group formed to help boost the spirit, pride, and morale of our people and help improve the look and condition of our hometown/county. We want Manchester and Clay County to be the place people want to live, stay, retire, visit, come home to!

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