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Mason County Itinerary

Downtown Maysville Walking Tour:  $7.00 per person includes guide and admission to Museum Center. Tour takes approximately 1 & ½ hours.

Welcome to Mayville … originally called Limestone, settlement began in 1773 when pioneer and explorer Captain John Hedges and his party arrived at the natural harbor and creek now known as Limestone.  The area was attractive to settlers because of the landing at Limestone Creek, the Buffalo Trace (forming a roadway forty feet wide into the interior of Kentucky) and rich cane lands.  Frontiersman Simon Kenton found Limestone Creek and the canebrakes for which he had searched in 1775. In 1784, Kenton helped erect the first permanent structure in what would become Maysville. By 1830, Maysville had become a thriving river port with more than 150 steamboats stopping during the month of May.  On January 13, 1833 Maysville was incorporated as a city; became the county seat in 1848.  

  • Simon Kenton Bridge – 1932 suspension bridge.
  • Maysville High School – site of 1784 blockhouse, first permanent building in Maysville (now Maysville High School apartments)
  • St. Patrick’s Church –Dedicated in 1910 in Gothic Style, its two large stained glass windows represent St. Boniface and St. Patrick, patron saints of Germany & Ireland.  Rectory built in 1901 in Colonial Revival Style 
  • Russell Theater – Spanish Style atmospheric theater built in 1929; Rosemary Clooney’s movie premier  “The Stars are Singing” in 1953.
  • Third Street Row houses – c. 1830 in Federal Style, enhanced with French influenced grillwork, “eyebrow” windows, later additions of Mansard roofs.
  • Mason County Courthouse – built in 1844 in Greek Revival Style, domed tower clock
  • First Presbyterian Church built in 1850; architecture represents the first period of Gothic Revival.
  • Cox Row – built in 1886, replica of row houses opposite Gracie Mansion in New York City; the 7 row houses are named for days of the week.
  • Church of the Nativity built in 1848 in Tudor Gothic style with deep chancel, steep roof pitch, massive tower with belfry and wooden doors with heavy iron strap hinges.
  • The Museum Center, built in 1878 as a public library, contains exhibits on history of the county and genealogical reference materials.
  • Pioneer Graveyard, oldest cemetery in town, contains graves of Maysville’s first mayor Charles E. Wolfe, Jacob Boone, one of Maysville’s first trustees and cousin of Daniel Boone, and Peter Grant, uncle of President Ulysses S. Grant.
  • The Lee House, originally named the Washington Hotel, was built circa 1798. Famous guests include Henry Clay, the Marquis de Lafayette and Andrew Jackson. Original guest register on display at Museum Center.

Underground Railroad Driving Tour:  $15.00 per person includes cost of guide, Augusta Ferry, Rankin House and Harriet Beecher Stowe Museum admission fees. Tour takes approximately 4 hours.

Retrace the footsteps of countless fleeing African slaves as you travel the countryside of Mason County, one of Kentucky’s most notable historic routes to freedom along the path that became known as the Underground Railroad. A “railroad” that led to freedom across the Ohio River.  Follow the path taken by “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” character “Eliza” and her baby “George” to the Dover Landing, then crossing the Ohio River on ice floes to a beacon of light on the Ohio hillside known as the Rankin House.

  • Pinecrest Farm (c. 1844) – site of log slave jail, focal point of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.  It is said the jail was built to house Africans waiting transport from Mason County to Natchez, MS and New Orleans, LA slave markets.
  • 1793 Minerva Baptist Church – one of five oldest still standing structures in Kentucky. Church has slave balcony; issue of slavery split the church in 1805.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe Slavery to Freedom Museum – formerly the Marshall Key home, Stowe witnessed a slave auction during her visit to the Key family in 1833.
  • Old Washington Courthouse Lawn – site of slave auctions.
  • Arnold Gragston/John G. Fee Historic Marker honors an abolitionist and conductor. Gragston rowed slaves from Dover across the Ohio River under cover of dark nights before becoming a free man at the end of the Civil War.
  • Bierbower House (c. 1840’s) – according to oral history, this house was a station on the Underground Railroad.
  • The National Underground Railroad Museum houses slave artifacts, photos and memorabilia.
  • Bethel Baptist Church and Elisha W. Green Historic Marker. Green fought for human rights and equality throughout his life, eventually buying his freedom in the 1840’s; Green founded Bethel Baptist Church in 1845. In his biography, Green wrote, “I believe that the stain of slavery and its degrading impressions will long linger in the minds of generations yet unborn.”
  • Dover River Landing – slaves loaded onto boats at this site for transport to slave markets in Natchez, MS and New Orleans, LA.
  • Augusta Ferry crossing to Brown County Ohio.
  • Rankin House, located at the top of Liberty Hill in Ripley, Ohio.  This National Historic Landmark was John Rankin’s home to his family and refuge to thousands of slaves as they made their way to freedom.
  • Freedom’s Landing, Ripley, Ohio.  Drive by the home of ex-slave, abolitionist and conductor John P. Parker, The Signal House, McCague House and Collins House, each playing a role in the escape of fugitives slaves.

The Freedom Trail Underground Railroad Tour:  $20.00 per person includes guide fee and admission fees.  Tour takes approximately 5 hours, including 1-hour lunch break.

Early Settlers ventured to this area in the late 1700’s and brought with them the opinion that slavery was wrong – many who settled across the river in Ripley, Ohio freed their slaves upon arrival. 

This area’s history continues to inspire and intrigue historians, residents and visitors. Tour the Freedom Trail, picture the past, with abolitionist and slaves running through alleys, and up the hills toward beacons of freedom.  And think about the dangers for those who believed that enslaving humans was wrong – great Americans who put their convictions in motion and had the courage to say no to slavery. 

10:00 a.m. – Arrive at Old Washington, KY Visitors Center; proceed to Harriet Beecher Stowe Slavery to Freedom Museum and Old Washington Courthouse Lawn. Visit home where Stowe stayed during a visit in 1833; stand on courthouse lawn where she witnessed a slave auction which left such an impression upon her, she incorporated it into her novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.  Period furniture, displays showing slave life and pre-Civil War documents featured.

10:45 a.m. – Board bus to drive to downtown Maysville.

11:00a.m. --  The National Underground Railroad Museum in downtown Maysville. Slave artifacts, photos and memorabilia serve as a testament to the struggle of the men and women who crossed the Ohio River to freedom.  Proceed to the 1840’s Bierbower House, permanent home of The National Underground Railroad Museum. According to oral history, this house overlooking the Ohio River was a station on the Underground Railroad. (keep Bierbower in here?) 

12:00 p.m. – Lunch

1:15p.m. Board bus for drive to Ripley, Ohio

1:30 p.m. – Rankin House, safe house and refuge to thousands of slaves as they made their way to freedom. Revel in the spectacular view of the Ohio River Valley from this National Historic Landmark; view the famous “stairway to freedom” leading from the river to Liberty Hill. Video available (optional).

2:30 p.m. –  John P. Parker House, home of the ex-slave, abolitionist and inventor.  By day Parker worked in his own foundry and by night helped slaves escape from Kentucky. A National Historic Landmark.  Video available (optional). Drive along Front Street to hear stories and view homes that were part of the Underground Railroad Movement.

3:30 p.m. -- Board bus and depart for home 

Covered Bridge Tour: $55.00 Fee for Step-On Guide Services. Tour takes approximately 5 hours.

     With only 13 Covered Bridges left in Kentucky’s, we can boast 8 bridges in our five county area of Northern Kentucky.

      The most famous and widely photographed bridge is Fleming County’s Goddard White Bridge. Built in the 1820’s, it is the only surviving example of Ithiel Town Lattice design in Kentucky.  Construction of the other seven Covered Bridges range from 1835 to 1874; designs include Smith truss construction, Burr truss design, King post with laminated arch design and a multiple King post design.

      Visit Blue Licks Battlefield State Park Resort.  General Daniel Boone and the Kentucky Militia were ambushed here in 1782 in Kentucky’s last battle of the Revolutionary War.

     Throughout history the salt springs at Blue Licks attracted pre-historic mastodons, buffalo and formed a center of Indian life.

10:00 a.m. – Arrive in Old Washington to meet Step-on Guide at Old Washington Visitor Center. 10:15 a.m. – Depart Old Washington and travel to Goddard-White Covered Bridge and Ringo Mill’s Covered Bridge in Fleming County.

11:45 a.m. – Arrive at Blue Licks Battlefield State Park Resort Pioneer Museum and gift shop. 

1:00 p.m. – Lunch at Blue Licks Resort Lodge dining room.

2:30 p.m. – Depart for Old Washington; upon arrival, guests can browse the many antique and craft shops. Guided tours available at the Old Washington Visitor Center.

4:00 p.m. – Board motor coach for trip home.


Old Washington Pioneer Village Log Cabin Learning Program

$5.00 per person, includes admission fees and tour guide.  Tour takes approximately 2 hours, 25 people (or less) per guide. 

Upon arrival at old Washington Visitor Center tour guide in Pioneer Costume greets guests.

  • Step inside original 1780’s Cane Brake Log Cabin; view 7 minute video about settlement of Mason County and frontiersman Simon Kenton.  Learn features of log cabin construction.
  • Visit Simon Kenton Shrine, an example of pioneer general store.
  • While strolling down flagstone sidewalks to Harriet Beecher Stowe Museum and Paxton Inn, learn architectural features of original early 1800’s brick structures.
  • Visit Mefford’s Fort, built c. 1790’s.  George Mefford, his wife and 13 children lived in this log cabin, whose floors are constructed from planks of flatboat that carried the family down the Ohio River to Mason County.  Learn about candle dipping, the origins of childhood song “Pop Goes the Weasel” and pioneer family life.
  • Log Cabin Workbook & Log Cabin Chocolate Candy. 


Old Washington Pioneer Village Walking Tours

Historic Tour – $10.00 adults   $4.00 children 6 – 12 yrs; price includes admission fees & costumed guide. Tour takes approximately 1 & ½ hours.

  • Old Washington Visitor Center – step inside original 1790’s Cane Brake Log cabin; view 7 minute video about settlement of Mason County and frontiersman Simon Kenton.
  • Simon Kenton Shrine
  •  Harriet Beecher Stowe Museum
  •  Albert Sidney Johnston House
  •  Paxton Inn
  •  Mefford’s Fort.

Underground Railroad -- $6.00 adults   $4.00 children 6 – 12; price includes admission fees & costumed guide. Tour takes approximately 45minutes to 1 hour.