Do you remember reading this post from Feb. 10?

In it, the English author and diarist wrote of his July 10, 1817, visit to Lexington.

Here’s what he wrote in his journal for the two days before then:

“July 8th — Jenkins’s is a good tavern, but it entertains at a high price. Our bill was 6 dollars each for a day and two nights; a shameful charge. Leave New Albany, cross the Ohio [river], and pass through Louisville in Kentucky again, on our way to Lexington. Stop for the night at Mr. Netherton’s, a good tavern. The land hitherto is good, and the country altogether healthy, if I may judge from the people, who appear more cheerful and happy than in Indiana, always excepting Harmony. Our landlord is the picture of health and strength: 6 feet 4 inches high, weighs 300 lbs., and not fat.”

“July 9th — Dine at Mr. Overton’s tavern, on our way to Frankfort; pay half a dollar each for an excellent dinner, with as much brandy and butter-milk as we chose to drink, and good feed for our horses. In the afternoon we have the pleasure to be overtaken by two ladies on horse-back, and have their agreeable company for a mile or two. On their turning off from our road we were very reluctantly obliged to refuse an obliging invitation to drink tea at their house, and myself the more so, as one of the ladies informed me she had married a Mr. Constantine, a gentleman from my own native town of Bolton, in Lancashire. But, we had yet so far to go, and it was getting dark. This most healthful mode of travelling is universal in the Western States, and it gives me great pleasure to see it; though, perhaps, I have to thank the badness of the roads as the cause. Arrive at Frankfort, apparently a thriving town, on the side of the rough Kentucky river. The houses are built chiefly of brick, and the streets, I understand, paved with limestone. Limestone abounds in this state, and yet the roads are not good, though better than in Indiana and Ohio, for, there, there are none. I wonder the governments of these states do not set about making good roads and bridges, and even canals. I pledge myself to be able to shew them how the money might be raised, and, moreover, to prove that the expence would be paid over and over again in almost no time. Such improvements would be income to the governments instead of expence, besides being such an incalculable benefit to the states. But, at any rate, why not roads, and in this state, too, which is so remarkable for its quality of having good road materials and rich land together, generally, all over it?”

I don’t know what (if any) influence Mr. Cobbett may have had with regard to local sentiment on road-building. But in “December 1826, [Kentucky’s] Governor Desha, in his annual message, advocated in very decided language the extension of State aid to a main highway from Maysville, via Paris, Lexington, and Frankfort, to Louisville, and also to other similar lines.” (This quotation taken from Zachariah Smith’s History of Kentucky, published in 1885.)

To read more on early American (and Kentucky) roads, stay tuned to the blog, and look for the article on the National Road in the March issue of The Carriage Journal.