Interesting facts about Kentucky

flag of kentucky

Kentucky is a state located in the east south-central region of the United States.

The official name of the state is the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

It is bordered by West Virginia lies to the east, Virginia to the southeast, Tennessee to the south, Missouri to the west, Illinois and Indiana to the northwest, and Ohio to the north and northeast.

As of April 2018, the population of Kentucky was estimated to be 4,472,265. It is the 37th most populous state in the United States.

Kentucky is the 26th largest state in the United States in terms of total area with 104,659 square kilometers (40,409 square miles).

Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky. It is located along the Kentucky River. The town of Frankfort likely received its name from an event that took place in the 1780s.


Kentucky lies within three major physiographic regions of the United States—the Appalachian Highlands (the Appalachian Plateau), the Interior Lowlands, and the Coastal Plain.

Within the state, six smaller regions may be identified, based on the underlying rock structure: Mountain, Knobs, Bluegrass, Pennyrile (or Pennyroyal), Western Coalfield, and Purchase.

The lowest point in Kentucky is at the Mississippi River in Fulton County, 78 meters (257 feet) above sea level. The highest point in Kentucky, at 1,261 meters (4,139 feet) above sea level, is Black Mountain [photo below]. It’s located among the Appalachian Mountains, near the Virginia border, in Harlan County, about 217 kilometers (135 miles) southeast of Lexington.

black mountain

Within the state, six smaller regions may be identified, based on the underlying rock structure: Mountain, Knobs, Bluegrass, Pennyrile (or Pennyroyal), Western Coalfield, and Purchase.

Kentucky has 5 national park and 38 state parks.

Mammoth Cave National Park is a U.S. national park in central Kentucky, encompassing portions of Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known in the world. Since the 1972 unification of Mammoth Cave with the even-longer system under Flint Ridge to the north, the official name of the system has been the Mammoth–Flint Ridge Cave System. The park was established as a national park on July 1, 1941. It became a World Heritage Site on October 27, 1981, and an international Biosphere Reserve on September 26, 1990.

mammoth cave national park

Cumberland Falls in Kentucky is only place in Western Hemisphere to spot a moonbow on a regular basis (a rainbow made from light reflected off of the moon at night) On clear full-moon nights and possibly two nights prior and after full-moon, visitors can spot the rare moonbow in the falls’ spray.

cumberland falls in kentucky

Kentucky’s most famous event and one of horse racing’s most prestigious races is the Kentucky Derby, held at Churchill Downs outside of Louisville. It takes place the first Sunday in May and draws a huge crowd to the city. To learn more about this event visitors can stop by the Kentucky Derby Museum.

kentucky derby

The Mega Cavern is a former limestone mine in Louisville, Kentucky. The cave stretches under parts of the Watterson Expressway and the Louisville Zoo. Due to its support structures, it is classified as a building and is the largest building in Kentucky. The cavern is used for business, storage, recycling, and tourism, with offerings including tram-guided tours, zipline tours, a ropes course, a mountain bike park, and an annual holiday lights display.

mega cavern louisville

Kentucky Kingdom is an amusement park in Louisville, Kentucky. The 63-acre (25 ha) park includes a collection of amusement rides and a water park named Hurricane Bay. The park reopened to the public on May 24, 2014.

kentucky kingdom

In 1776, the counties of Virginia beyond the Appalachian Mountains became known as Kentucky County, named for the Kentucky River. The precise etymology of the name is uncertain, but likely based on an Iroquoian name meaning “(on) the meadow” or “(on) the prairie“.

Kentucky was granted statehood in 1792, becomingthe first U.S. state west of the Appalachian Mountains.

The first commercial winery in the U.S. opened in 1799 near Lexington. The founder, a Swiss businessman named John James Dufour, settled on the location because of a shipping port on the Kentucky River that gave him access to New Orleans and other points south. Today, a descendant of one of Dufour’s first shareholders maintains the winery. It is, appropriately, called First Vineyard.


Bourbon is so hip and all the young people are drinking it, the Associated Press reports, creating a “boom” for the burgeoning bourbon industry. This is good news for Kentucky, the source of “95 percent of the world’s bourbon.” In fact, there is so much bourbon coming out of Kentucky right now, that the number of barrels storing the stuff — 4.7 million to be exact — surpasses the states population of 4.5 million people.

The song “Happy Birthday to You” was the creation of two Louisville sisters in 1893.

The first town in the United States to be named for the first president was Washington. It was named in 1780.

Although he is more closely associated with Illinois, Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky.

The Lost River Cave and Valley Bowling Green includes a cave with the shortest and deepest underground river in the world. It contains the largest cave opening east of the Mississippi.

Kentucky has more navigable miles of water than any other state in the union, other than Alaska.

Though it has only three major natural lakes, Kentucky is home to many artificial lakes.

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