Paducah, Kentucky : Population = 24,864 (micropolitan area= 98,765), elevation = 341 feet, average January low temp = 25.8º (13 days below freezing), Average July high temp = 89.3º (48 days over 90º), annual snowfall = 9.1”, annual rainfall = 49.8”
After our adventures in Memphis, the plan was to head East to Nashville to see how the Country & Western music scene lives. Unfortunately, Nashville has been very hard-nosed about AirBnB rentals in the city so rentals are few and very expensive. We decide to just skip Nashville and move on. We spread our net wider and found a nice little town to the North with lots of character, Paducah, Kentucky.
Paducah is located at the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers, not far from where the Mississippi also joins the Ohio. When it was officially incorporated as a town in 1830, it was a major port of call for the steamboats traversing the rivers. When the railroads came through, it became a manufacturing and transportation hub. The Historic Downtown retains many of the beautiful old buildings from that era.
There is a lot to do and see in Paducah. There are two breweries that we found right away, with great beer selections. One has a good selection of bar food, including fried pepperoni chips. Why not? The other has barrels of free peanuts and is next door to a pizza place. Tough choice. Unfortunately, we are missing the Beer Fest in June.
There are even a couple of moonshine distilleries. Tennessee may be the music state, but Kentucky is the distillery state. We learned the difference between vodka and moonshine: whiskey and bourbon. We were also treated to a tour of a distillery, some information on the process, and a distilling museum with fine examples of antique stills. Did I mention free tastings of all the different liquors, both flavored and plain? In my limited experience with moonshine, it has tasted mostly like vodka. Not so down here where this is a recipe and technique handed down from father to son many times over. The flavor is very distinctive, strong but not harsh; sippin’ liquor.
Paducah is the home of the National Quilt Museum. They even have a Quilt Festival that takes over the town at the end of April and, by all accounts it is a pretty rowdy crew of needle-wielders. We visited the museum and they are very strict about no photos inside so all I am able to show is a couple of the simple, basic works fro the lobby. Make no mistake, the quilts inside are intense works of art and patience. Some of them are the result of years of dedication.
In January of 1937 Paducah paid the price for being a river city. Eighteen inches of rain and blocks of ice came together to raise the river ten feet over flood stage and inundate the town. As a result, the Army Corps of Engineers built a flood wall to protect the city. Having all that blank wall inspired Robert Dafford, a renowned mural painter. Now over 50 murals celebrate Paducah’s history along the wall.
We had fun exploring Paducah. Unfortunately, it was kind of a soggy week, with a few days of wind and rain, so we did not get to see everything we wanted to. Maybe next time.
Follow this link for more info and a fun video. Scroll down to the “Signature Experiences” box to start the tour.
Next up: Louisville, Kentucky