Oldham County launches new
Westport Row & Kayak Club
New History Center club promotes
local recreation activities
WESTPORT, Ky. (March 2018) – Several clubs are part of the offerings of the Oldham County History Center: Antique Iron, History Hounds and Junior Ranger. A new club has been introduced that targets activities focusing around the Ohio River: The Westport Row & Kayak Club.
“The purpose of the club is to invite members to get out and explore the fascinating and beautiful places that make our community special. Often knowing and falling in love with the places in which we live requires the experience and feel of where events and history took place,” said Nancy Stearns Theiss, executive director of the Oldham County History Center in La Grange.
A new kayak club in Oldham County invites members to get out and enjoy the natural resources of the area.
Several events are planned throughout the year, and Theiss will lead all activities. Members meet at designated locations in Westport unless otherwise noted. Participants must be members of the Oldham County History Center to participate in club events.
“Participants will not only go on some row adventures on the Ohio River but also hike on some unique and historic properties in the county,” she said. The club is geared for adults.
All members of the club must furnish their own kayak for rowing events. Hikes will be moderate to difficult. There will be extra charges for some activities, which will include food and drinks. A description of locations to meet and any other necessary information will be given when participants register for an outing.
The next outing will take place at 11 a.m. Friday, March 9. The club will hike to an historic spot in the Westport area on land once owned by the Button family.
Many grand homes once stood in Westport, built by prominent wealthy men. “Hurricane Hall” or “Mauvilla” was built by Capt. Jack Taylor on a bluff of the Ohio River one mile north of Westport. The palatial home contained 18 rooms, a self-supporting staircase and a soapstone bathtub.
Thomas T. Barbour, an early settler of Oldham County, built “Clifton” one mile south of Westport near the mouth of 18 Mile Creek in 1813. It later became known as Woodland Farm. It was part of a string of large land tracts settled by English families who had acquired land for their Revolutionary War service.
Native Americans once inhabited the area even before white settlers began pouring in as they traveled down the Ohio River. The community of Westport had its beginnings when a land grant was bestowed upon Elijah Craig for a Treasury Warrant on May 22, 1780. On April 25, 1796, Craig sold the land to Joseph Dupuy and Harman Bowman for 450 pounds. It was a solid investment that would produce a flourishing river town on the banks of the Ohio River.
With the surge of settlers pouring into the newly opened Louisiana Territory in 1804, it was thought that Westport would grow considerably due to river traffic along the Ohio River. There was a steady stream of immigrants and products being shipped in and out of the docks in Westport. River travel and a constant influx of settlers made the small river town swell with commerce.
A ferry was operated by Levi Bowyer as early as 1800, connecting Westport to the Indiana territory. The later invention of the steamboat also aided the growth of Westport. By 1818, Westport was considered a commercial center. Steamboats and showboats stopped here regularly. It became the county seat for a short time in 1826, before the courthouse was moved to La Grange.
The Westport Row and Kayak Club will explore many of these places through paddling the Ohio River and hiking the surrounding countryside. The club is also a sponsor of Splash Day, which is scheduled from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, June 14.
This event “celebrates water safety, history and conservation of the Ohio River,” said Theiss. The event, which is open to the public, is also sponsored by Oldham County Parks Department, Knock on Wood and the Westport Fire Department. Splash Day will take place at the Westport ramp and boat dock. Activities include water safety demonstrations, hands-on activities, kayaking and food.
For more information, call the Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826.
Future Westport Row & Kayak Club events are:
• April 27: Hike in La Grange includes cemetery walk, conservation park and visit to the Rob Morris house. 11 a.m. Bring brown bag lunch.
• June 14: Splash Day. 5-8 p.m.
• July 11: Evening on the Ohio River Paddle. Launch at the Westport Boat Ramp. Cost will include dinner. 5-8 p.m.
• Aug. 16: Hike and swim to a spring fed pond and late 18th century springhouse. Cost will include dinner.
• Sept. 9: Morning paddle on the Ohio River. 10 a.m.
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