Tree lover that I am, I was thrilled to see the incredible Osage orange tree at Fort Harrod in Harrodsburg, Ky.
The massive tree’s trunk is split in two and part of it sprawls over the ground with twisting limbs and branches.
The beautiful specimen dates back to the late 18th century and is actually taller and broader than the national champion, a title it would hold if not for its bifurcated trunk.
Harrodsburg is even older than the venerable Osage orange. Established by its namesake, James Harrod, in 1774, the town claims to be Kentucky’s first English-speaking settlement west of the Alleghenies. Abandoned due to attacks by hostile Indians the same year, the site was resettled in 1775 when Fort Harrod was constructed.
Today, visitors can see a full scale replica of the old fort rebuilt near its original location and adjacent to the oldest cemetery in the state, which holds the remains of close to 500 pioneer settlers.
Once in the log stockade, visitors can walk into replicas of the George Rogers Clark blockhouse, where the general planned his Northwest campaign during the American Revolution, as well as period furnished log cabins and the town’s first school.
Adding interest to the log structures, interpreters dressed in period-accurate clothing giving demonstrations on pioneer activities such as blacksmithing, broom making, weaving, soap making and woodworking.
The fort also holds an historic shrine, sheltered by a church-like red brick building. Inside its walls is the log cabin in which Abraham Lincoln’s parents were married in 1806. Originally located in Springfield, Ky., the cabin was moved to Fort Harrod circa 1906 where it was reassembled, log by log.
David Coleman, park manager, said he was told three of the logs were so rotten they had to be discarded but were replaced with logs from one of the original 1774 log houses conveniently located nearby.