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Bourbon Whiskey

Check out a miniatures exhibit and Old Pogue Distillery in Maysville

Maysville claims to be the "birthplace of bourbon."

Maysville, Kentucky – This pretty Ohio River town has long been an oasis for travelers.

Originally called Limestone, Maysville was founded in 1787 following a previous settlement by explorer Simon Kenton.

The first visitors could have found sustenance at a trading post and tavern owned by none other than Daniel Boone.

A decade or so later, when Ebenezer Zane was carving Zane’s Trace through the Ohio wilderness, he ended the trail at a buffalo wallow conveniently located directly across the river from Maysville.

Other travelers would have arrived on barges floating downstream toward Cincinnati, Louisville and New Orleans; and later, on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway.

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Although the town is still an Amtrak stop, most visitors today arrive by automobile; Maysville hosts the last bridge to cross the Ohio River before I-75 near Newport, 50 miles downstream. And modern travelers who wisely make a stop in Maysville will still find satisfying provender and diversions.

The Gateway Museum Center has displays on regional history, bourbon heritage and a world-class miniatures collection.

The Kentucky Gateway Museum Center near the center of town contains a fine collection focusing on the area’s rich regional history. A short walk behind the museum also takes visitors to Maysville’s original pioneer cemetery, with graves dating from 1800 – the original tombstones offering a weird but poignant juxtaposition with modernity.

The museum is also home to the world-famous Kathleen Savage Browning Miniatures Collection. On my first visit to the museum a decade ago, I wasn’t thrilled by the idea of “miniatures.”

“Usually the guys roll their eyes – until they see it,” a volunteer told me back then.

She was right. The 3,300 square-foot gallery – huge, when you consider that it’s housing miniatures – contains exquisite examples of miniaturist art.

In other words, these are not your sister’s dollhouses.

Visitors enjoy exploring the miniatures gallery at the Kentucky Gateway Museum.

A wide variety of structures and scenes are depicted, each with magnificently detailed and extraordinarily tiny features, such as the oriental carpets, upholstered furniture and oil paintings within a 1/12 scale model of the Spencer House, the late Princess Diana’s ancestral home.

Other buildings include local landmarks such as the Russell Theatre – which can also be seen in real life a few blocks away.

Next to the main Museum Center building is another exhibit, The Old Pogue Experience, housed in its own building and named for Maysville’s Old Pogue Distillery, which began producing whiskey in 1876.

Maysville's bourbon heritage is explored at The Old Pogue Experience, part of the Gateway Museum Center.

Maysville claims to have given bourbon its name, back when the area was a part of Bourbon County and early settlers were sending “Bourbon”-stamped barrels of Kentucky whiskey down river. The Old Pogue Experience, which opened in 2018, explores that extensive history from those early days, through the heyday of Maysville’s bourbon production in the early 20th century to the bourbon industry today.

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