Bullitt County is located just 17 miles south of Kentucky's largest city, Louisville. It was created from two counties, Jefferson (Louisville) and Nelson (Bardstown) on December 13, 1796. Bullitt County was named for Kentucky's first Lieutenant Governor, Alexander Scott Bullitt. Settlers had already begun to settle in this area years earlier, due to the wonderful roads laid out by the herds of buffalo, deer and elk that migrated to this area for the salt as the largest lick in Kentucky's history, Bullitt's Lick, named for Captain Thomas Bullitt who found it on a surveying expedition in 1773.
Alexander was a nephew of Captain Thomas Bullitt. Famous frontiersmen, Daniel and brother Squire Boone were among many who forged thick forested hills and valleys following buffalo and deer herds to salt licks.
Bullitt's Lick was the site of the first commercial industry in Kentucky - salt production. It served all Kentucky, Illinois and Tennessee territories sending salt in barrels down the Salt, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers on to New Orleans. The Wilderness Trail made a meandering turn here in Bullitt County to the Salt Licks, becoming the first inland intermodal distribution system for commerce in the western frontier. Should you travel on I-65, Ky. Hwy. 44, and/or Ky. Hwy. 61 while visiting us in Bullitt County, you'll be tracing parts of that historical trail that led from the Cumberland Gap, in the east, to Bullitt's Lick and on to the Falls of the Ohio in Louisville.
Salt, taken for granted today, was a precious commodity to pioneers. Huge continuously burning fires kept row after row of black iron kettles boiling to yield a few bushels of salt each day. The salt was shipped by flatboats on the Ohio River for distribution from Pittsburgh and New Orleans. Commercial salt production in Bullitt County was Kentucky's first industry.
Bullitt's natural resources, especially timber, suffered greatly at the hand of Kentucky's earliest industrial history, the salt industry and the iron industry. Timber fired the kettles boiling salt water into salt, and fired furnaces that melted ore into iron.
After a century of this early industrial development, a successful businessman and visionary formed The Bernheim Foundation and purchased over 14,000 acres of land to allow the land to return to natural forestland. By visiting Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, you can see native flora and fauna and learn about the evolution of this area since its earliest history.
About the turn of the 20th Century, another industry was emerging, and it wasn't long before another Kentucky product was being shipped over the same routes. The Beam Family discovered the smoothness in the limestone water in the Clermont area and began making Jim Beam Bourbon. Today, after more than 200 years of continuous operations, the Jim Beam Distillery at the American Outpost produces among the finest and most popular Bourbons in the world. You can visit the American Outpost, tour the museum and Beam's homestead, and learn about this great Kentucky tradition.
Rolling knobs, lakes, rivers, and forests in the area offer plenty of opportunity to get back to nature...all within close range of I-65. There is fishing, horseback riding, bird-watching, camping and hiking. If your idea of camping is the nearest motel, choose from the best known brands at I-65 exits 117 and 121.
This fascinating area of Kentucky still has the same historical roads that led the westward movement. Today they lead to many regional attractions in Louisville, Bardstown, Elizabethtown and Radcliff/Ft. Knox.
Take scenic back roads following The Wilderness Trail, Country Music Trails, Bourbon Trail and Civil War Trails; or travel at a quicker pace. Either way, make Bullitt County your base from which to explore a multitude of well-known attractions and nearby historic sites. Experience our friendly hospitality!
For more historical and genealogical information, contact:
Bullitt County Genealogical Society
171 Anna Lee Drive
Taylorsville, KY 40071