Cove Spring Park in Frankfort was honestly a surprise find! On this particular Saturday we headed for the park, not because of any history, but because it was a beautiful day and we could hike and explore someplace new. (It was also during COVID lock down, so this was a safe outing.) What we discovered was that Cove Spring was not just for the nature lover, but for the history lover too!
Like most cities and towns in Kentucky, Frankfort (founded in 1786) was not only settled along a river but also near natural springs. One of those springs was Cove Spring.
Creating a Reservoir
In 1800, settlers walled the spring, and built a 25-30 foot stone wall and overflow tower to create the first water reservoir west of the Allegheny Mountains.
In 1804, a man by the name of Richard Throckmorton, built the first waterworks in Frankfort. He built several miles of wooden pipes that ran from Cove Spring reservoir into Frankfort and the jail. This was the first time that naturally fresh water was supplied to these locations.
In 1805, the Frankfort Water Company was established, and in 1839, a larger water works system was built by the city using Cove Spring as the water source.
At some point along the way, the reservoir was no longer used as the city’s water source. The dam was breeched in 1980, and the reservoir was drained.
Now, the 240 acres are a nature preserve where you can see the remains of the walled spring, the dam wall, and the overflow tower.
On the day we visited, the area had not received rain in quite awhile. We were able to walk the creek beds that ran though the park, which added to the uniqueness.
Once we returned home, I had to research to find out the history. That is when I discovered that there is a low side and a high side to the park. The low side, where we had explored, has waterfalls (we only saw one as the creek was dry that day) and several trails to hike that run alongside the creek. The high side, which I did not know existed at the time, also contains history with the remains of an old farmstead. If you are a nature lover, this is a paradise, tucked in the middle of Frankfort. If you are a history lover, this is a place for you too!
We will definitely make a trip back when we have had rain, so we can see the creeks flowing and the waterfalls falling. I’m also looking forward to exploring the high side to see the remains of the farmstead. Of course, when we go, my followers will know about it, because I will post it here!