'100 Years at the Falls'

River is central theme in event
at Farnsley Moreman Landing

Re-enactors to help mark 100 years
at Louisville attraction

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(June 2007) – On May 27, 1778, an audacious young commander named George Rogers Clark led an expedition of 20 families and a small army straight to the Falls of the Ohio. He left behind a group of settlers on Corn Island, thus leaving his mark on the founding of Louisville before going on to make one of the boldest military moves in the history of the United States.

“100 Years at the Falls”

Photo provided

Dozens of re-enactors are scheduled
to perform during the “100 Years
at the Falls” event in June in Louisville.

This expedition, known as the Northwest Campaign, proved to be an extraordinary feat as it “doubled the size of the colonies and was set against the backdrop of the Revolution on the far western front,” said Rod Smothers. Two years ago, he created a non-profit organization, Falls Landing Foundation, to commemorate the founding of Louisville and its connections to Clark and the Revolutionary War era.
Smothers has been hard at work during this time organizing a founder’s day celebration. “100 Years at the Falls” is being planned from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on June 9-10 at Riverside, The Farnsley Moremen Landing, in Louisville. This event will be a timeline event spanning the years 1765 to 1865.
“With so many beautiful and important historic sites around the state and the many important events and people who are connected with the Falls, we felt that a timeline event would best showcase our history,” said Smothers.
Some important events that occurred during this time include Clark’s founding of Louisville, his brother William Clark teaming with Merriweather Lewis some 25 years later upon the Voyage of Discovery, the War of 1812 in which many prominent Louisvillians took up arms and fought, and Abraham Lincoln visiting Farmington, now a historic home in Louisville.
There is also a lot of history to be found at Riverside, which was a large Ohio River farm in the 1800s. The main home was built around 1837 by Gabriel Farnsley, and its inhabitants depended on the river for trade and information. Alanson and Rachel Moreman bought the house and property in 1862.
With so much history centered around the Ohio River, Riverside was a logical site for Smothers to stage this event. “One glance and I knew we had found our site,” he said.
Riverside is a 300-acre city park with two miles of river frontage in an unspoiled, natural setting. “Re-enactors and visitors both will get a sense of what the Falls area was like in 1778,” said Smothers.
Setting made Riverside a natural choice for this event, agreed Site Manager Patti Linn. “Since there is not much modern development, it is easier to take oneself back in time,” while visiting Riverside, she said.
Camps will be erected that represent Native Americans, Clark’s militia, Clark’s uniform army, War of 1812, Regency (1820) re-enactors from Locust Grove, units from the Civil War, including an all black Union Artillery Company that will give cannon demonstrations. Military units will explain their weapons, drilling practices and camp life.
Sutlers will provide food and wares, 18th and 19th century music, and a Chautauqua-style speaking series. Speakers include Gywnne Potts (first director of Locust Grove and co-author of “George Rogers Clark and Locust Grove”); Nancy O’Malley (University of Kentucky archaeologist and author of “Stockading Up”); Mandy Dick (Locust Grove re-enactor); and Chuck Parris (retired Corp of Engineers employee who will speak about the Falls and its changes in the past 200 years).
Organizers are hoping to schedule appearances by Clark, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. Frank Jarboe will provide an 18th century style Sunday morning church service.
Several different public events are held at Riverside throughout the year, said Linn. But this will be the first re-enacting event at the site. Linn said she hopes this event will become an annual happening at Riverside.
Louisville Metro Government lent a supporting hand to this event when Mayor Jerry Abramson named May 27 “Falls Landing Day” in 2005. This gave organizers more momentum to plan an event that would recognize Clark and the settlers that landed with him on the seven-acre Corn Island in 1778.

• Admission to the event is $6 adults, $5 seniors and $3 children. For more information, call (502) 935-6809 or visit: www.fallslanding.org.

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