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Kentucky Facts for Kids

Updated on April 21, 2013

Kentucky for Kids: The Bluegrass State

Have fun learning lots of interesting facts about Kentucky! The nickname "bluegrass" comes from Kentucky's bluish-green blades of grass which feed their famous horses. The slightly blue tint comes from it's bluish-purple buds. Bluegrass is also a type of local country music.

It became the 15th state in 1792. It is the oldest state west of the Appalachian Mountains.

Kentucky is the 37th biggest state in America with 39,486.34 square miles (2010 census) and has the 26th most people- 4,369,356 (2011 census estimate).

It's name comes from an Iroquoi native word "Ken-tah-ten" which means "land of tomorrow".

Welcome to Kentucky Sign
Welcome to Kentucky Sign

Map of Kentucky

show route and directions
A markerThe capital of KY -
Frankfort, KY
get directions

B markerMammoth Cave National Park -
Mammoth Cave
get directions

C markerKentucky Derby at Churchill Downs Racetrack -
Louisville, KY
get directions

D markerLincoln Birthplace -
Hogdenville, KY
get directions

E markerRed RIver Gorge -
Daniel Boone National Forest, KY
get directions

F markerCreation Museum -
Petersburg, KY
get directions

Kentucky State Flag
Kentucky State Flag

Kentucky State Flag

Motto: "United we stand, divided we fall"

The state seal, adopted in 1792, shows two men shaking hands in agreement. The flag was adopted in 1918 and finalized in 2002. Goldenrod, the state flower, appears around the bottom of the seal.

Kentucky Coloring Page
Kentucky Coloring Page

Kentucky Coloring Pages

Click on picture to see more KY pages at USA-Printables

Kentucky State Symbols

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State Bird: CardinalState Flower: GoldenrodState Seal: On FlagState mineral: CoalState Tree: Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)State Horse: ThoroughbredState Insect: HoneybeeState Gemstone: Pearl
State Bird: Cardinal
State Bird: Cardinal
State Flower: Goldenrod
State Flower: Goldenrod
State Seal: On Flag
State Seal: On Flag
State mineral: Coal
State mineral: Coal
State Tree: Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)
State Tree: Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)
State Horse: Thoroughbred
State Horse: Thoroughbred
State Insect: Honeybee
State Insect: Honeybee
State Gemstone: Pearl
State Gemstone: Pearl

In 1928, "My Old Kentucky Home" became the official state song of Kentucky. The original song was titled "Poor Uncle Tom, Good Night". It described an everyday scene on a slave plantation. In 1986, a word found disrespectful toward African-Americans was changed and the modern version was adopted.

Stephen Foster
Stephen Foster

My Old Kentucky Home Lyrics (~1852)

Words and Music by Stephen C. Foster (1826-1864)

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home

'Tis summer, the people are gay;

The corn top's ripe and the meadow's in the bloom,

While the birds make music all the day;

The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,

All merry, all happy, and bright,

By'n by hard times comes a-knocking at the door,

Then my old Kentucky home, good night!

Chorus

Weep no more, my lady,

Oh weep no more today!

We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,

For the old Kentucky home far away.

They hunt no more for the 'possum and the coon,

On meadow, the hill and the shore,

They sing no more by the glimmer of the moon,

On the bench by that old cabin door;

The day goes by like a shadow o'er the heart,

With sorrow where all was delight;

The time has come when the people have to part,

Then my old Kentucky home, good night!

Chorus

The head must bow and the back will have to bend,

Wherever the people may go;

A few more days and the trouble all will end

In the field where sugar-canes may grow;

A few more days for to tote the weary load,

No matter, 'twill never be light,

A few more days till we totter on the road,

Then my old Kentucky home, good night!

Chorus

Kentucky State Quarter
Kentucky State Quarter

Kentucky State Quarter

The coin shows a thoroughbred racehorse, the state horse, at the historic Federal Hill mansion in Bardstown, KY.

Start a state quarter collection!

Mammoth Cave - Mammoth Cave National Park, KY

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Mammoth Cave is the world's longest cave system with over 350 miles of known passages. Researches believe there are many passage yet undiscovered. The caverns are made of limestone which dissolved in water, then either washes away or drips to form stMain cave entrance. The temperature underground stays 54 degrees year-round. The humidity is ~87 percent. There are underground lakes and rivers.The Rotunda room.90 feet deep pitCrystal Lake, with artificial lighting under water.This is the outlet of the River Styx into the Green River.Map of the caverns
Mammoth Cave is the world's longest cave system with over 350 miles of known passages. Researches believe there are many passage yet undiscovered. The caverns are made of limestone which dissolved in water, then either washes away or drips to form st
Mammoth Cave is the world's longest cave system with over 350 miles of known passages. Researches believe there are many passage yet undiscovered. The caverns are made of limestone which dissolved in water, then either washes away or drips to form st
Main cave entrance. The temperature underground stays 54 degrees year-round. The humidity is ~87 percent. There are underground lakes and rivers.
Main cave entrance. The temperature underground stays 54 degrees year-round. The humidity is ~87 percent. There are underground lakes and rivers.
The Rotunda room.
The Rotunda room.
90 feet deep pit
90 feet deep pit
Crystal Lake, with artificial lighting under water.
Crystal Lake, with artificial lighting under water.
This is the outlet of the River Styx into the Green River.
This is the outlet of the River Styx into the Green River.
Map of the caverns
Map of the caverns

StalaCtite: Hangs on tight to Ceiling.

StalaGmite: Grows up from the Ground.

Mammoth Cave Bats
Mammoth Cave Bats

Mammoth Cave History

The cave was mined for nitrates from bat guano, for use in gunpowder, especially during the War of 1812.  Vats were filled with dirt from the tunnels then flooded with water. When the water had absorbed the nitrates, they boiled until saltpeter crystals formed. The crystals were then shipped to gunpowder manufacturers in the East.

Mammoth Cave's roof is sandstone which makes it strong. But much of the cave is limestone. It easily dissolves in water because water is a weak acid. The water flowed through a few cracks in the limestone, and made cave passageways. The underground Green River cut a new path down through the rocks and started draining water away from the caves, filling them with air. When groundwater seeps into a cave, the water cannot hold all of the dissolved limestone, and it drips into stalactites, stalagmites, and other cave formations.

The Kentucky Derby - Louisville, KY

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Churchill Downs Racetrack
Churchill Downs Racetrack
Churchill Downs Racetrack

Get your Kentucky Derby collectible! - Catch 'em before they retire!

Fort Knox Army Base - Fort Knox, KY

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Fort Knox Military Base is about 30 miles south of Louisville, KYA gold bar measures 7 inches x 3 and 5/8 inches x 1 and 3/4 inches, and weighs ~27.5 pounds. They were mailed to the Depository by train.In 1937, the Federal Bullion Depository opened at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Billions of dollars in gold are stored there. The underground vault cannot be opened by one person. Several people know separate combinations known only to them. It is the 2nd larIn 1933, President Roosevelt said that Americans were no longer allowed to own gold, and forced them to sell it to the Federal Reserve. So, the United States built the Federal Bullion Depository to store it.
Fort Knox Military Base is about 30 miles south of Louisville, KY
Fort Knox Military Base is about 30 miles south of Louisville, KY
A gold bar measures 7 inches x 3 and 5/8 inches x 1 and 3/4 inches, and weighs ~27.5 pounds. They were mailed to the Depository by train.
A gold bar measures 7 inches x 3 and 5/8 inches x 1 and 3/4 inches, and weighs ~27.5 pounds. They were mailed to the Depository by train.
In 1937, the Federal Bullion Depository opened at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Billions of dollars in gold are stored there. The underground vault cannot be opened by one person. Several people know separate combinations known only to them. It is the 2nd lar
In 1937, the Federal Bullion Depository opened at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Billions of dollars in gold are stored there. The underground vault cannot be opened by one person. Several people know separate combinations known only to them. It is the 2nd lar
In 1933, President Roosevelt said that Americans were no longer allowed to own gold, and forced them to sell it to the Federal Reserve. So, the United States built the Federal Bullion Depository to store it.
In 1933, President Roosevelt said that Americans were no longer allowed to own gold, and forced them to sell it to the Federal Reserve. So, the United States built the Federal Bullion Depository to store it.

Gold Reserve

A gold reserve is the gold stored by a nation as a promise to pay what it owes people.

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace - Hodgenville, KY

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Thomas and Nancy Lincoln lived in a one-room log cabin on Sinking Spring Farm in Hodgenville, KY. Abraham Lincoln was born there on February 12, 1809.A log cabin replica is inside.The Lincoln's moved a few miles to the northeast to Knob Creek Hill, KY.The Lincoln family lived at Knob Creek from 1811 to 1816. This cabin belonged to a neighbor and was moved to where the current location. Abraham Lincoln's earliest memory was almost drowning in Knob Creek and being saved by the neighbor's son.
Thomas and Nancy Lincoln lived in a one-room log cabin on Sinking Spring Farm in Hodgenville, KY. Abraham Lincoln was born there on February 12, 1809.
Thomas and Nancy Lincoln lived in a one-room log cabin on Sinking Spring Farm in Hodgenville, KY. Abraham Lincoln was born there on February 12, 1809.
A log cabin replica is inside.
A log cabin replica is inside.
The Lincoln's moved a few miles to the northeast to Knob Creek Hill, KY.
The Lincoln's moved a few miles to the northeast to Knob Creek Hill, KY.
The Lincoln family lived at Knob Creek from 1811 to 1816. This cabin belonged to a neighbor and was moved to where the current location. Abraham Lincoln's earliest memory was almost drowning in Knob Creek and being saved by the neighbor's son.
The Lincoln family lived at Knob Creek from 1811 to 1816. This cabin belonged to a neighbor and was moved to where the current location. Abraham Lincoln's earliest memory was almost drowning in Knob Creek and being saved by the neighbor's son.

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park

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Cumberland Falls is known as Little Niagara, the Niagara of the South, or the Great Falls. It is a large waterfall 68 feet high and 125 feet wide on the Cumberland River in southeastern Kentucky.What is a moonbow you ask? A rainbow at night! A lunar rainbow sometimes forms on a clear night by the mist refracting the moonlight of a full moon. The Falls are facing exacly the right direction so the moonlight lines up at the necessary angle. ThMoonbows are a rare phenomenon. One is at Victoria Falls in Africa. Sometimes, a seasonal lunar rainbow can be seen at Yosemite Falls in California, and a smaller one at Niagara Falls in New York state.The Cumberland Falls Dam was built to control flooding and provide hydroelectric power. The Lake is a popular tourist spot.
Cumberland Falls is known as Little Niagara, the Niagara of the South, or the Great Falls. It is a large waterfall 68 feet high and 125 feet wide on the Cumberland River in southeastern Kentucky.
Cumberland Falls is known as Little Niagara, the Niagara of the South, or the Great Falls. It is a large waterfall 68 feet high and 125 feet wide on the Cumberland River in southeastern Kentucky.
What is a moonbow you ask? A rainbow at night! A lunar rainbow sometimes forms on a clear night by the mist refracting the moonlight of a full moon. The Falls are facing exacly the right direction so the moonlight lines up at the necessary angle. Th
What is a moonbow you ask? A rainbow at night! A lunar rainbow sometimes forms on a clear night by the mist refracting the moonlight of a full moon. The Falls are facing exacly the right direction so the moonlight lines up at the necessary angle. Th
Moonbows are a rare phenomenon. One is at Victoria Falls in Africa. Sometimes, a seasonal lunar rainbow can be seen at Yosemite Falls in California, and a smaller one at Niagara Falls in New York state.
Moonbows are a rare phenomenon. One is at Victoria Falls in Africa. Sometimes, a seasonal lunar rainbow can be seen at Yosemite Falls in California, and a smaller one at Niagara Falls in New York state.
The Cumberland Falls Dam was built to control flooding and provide hydroelectric power. The Lake is a popular tourist spot.
The Cumberland Falls Dam was built to control flooding and provide hydroelectric power. The Lake is a popular tourist spot.
William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland
William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland

Why is everything named Cumberland?!

Who is Cumberland?

Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721-1765), became a Duke at only 4 years old. After entering military service, he was wounded in the leg by a musket ball and declared a British war hero. He was appointed Commander of the Scottish forces. After he won the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the explorer Thomas Walker named the Cumberland River in his honor, in 1750. Many places in the American colonies were named after him, including the Cumberland Gap, the Cumberland Plateau, and the Cumberland Mountains, in addition to several counties and towns also named "Cumberland" in the mid-18th century. Prince William County, Virginia is also named after him. The Daniel Boone National Forest was originally named Cumberland National Forest in1937. But in 1966, the name was officially changed to the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Red River Gorge - Daniel Boone National Forest, KY

Natural rock bridge at Red River Gorge
Natural rock bridge at Red River Gorge

Breaks of the Sandy - "The Grand Canyon of the South" near Breaks Interstate Park

View of Breaks of the Sandy
View of Breaks of the Sandy

A 1600 feet deep gorge carved by the Big Sandy River. The five-mile long canyon of rapids on Russell Fork, a tributary of Big Sandy River, has some of the most challenging whitewater rafting in the east.

Land between the Lakes

My Old Kentucky Home State Park - Bardstown, Kentucky

Federal Hill Mansion: A former plantation built by Judge John Rowan in 1795.

Barkley Dam

Planning a Wildcats party? - Don't forget your plates, napkins and balloons!

Constitution Square

Elizabethtown

Kentucky is a beautiful state with so much to see! - What do YOU want to visit in KY?

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    • profile image

      daesean 2 years ago

      ha ha ha gotey

    • TimArends profile image

      Timothy Arends 2 years ago from Chicago Region

      Great hub with a lot of great pictures. Another thing I believe to be a fact is that the Abraham Lincoln Memorial has one step for each year of his life.

    • profile image

      StrongMay 4 years ago

      @Jo-Jackson: Me, too!

    • Jo-Jackson profile image

      Jo-Jackson 4 years ago

      I'd love to see the Kentucky Derby!