Down the first floor hall you will find a
rock & insect collection. Just pass the collection of rocks and creatures, you will find
our local trees and step back into the past.
When the first Europeans came upon this region of Kentucky,
they discovered an area quite different from the rugged hills and
thick forests encountered farther east. Early documentation of south - central
and western Kentucky describes it as vast plains of grasslands, with trees
being widely scattered or absent. Today we call these areas "prairies",
but in those days, these explorers were not familiar with this French word.
They called these grasslands the "barrens" because they thought the soil was
too poor to support trees. A botanist who passed through the Barrens of Kentucky
in 1802 described the area as having hardly a tree as far as the eye can see.
There are legendary tales of people riding on horseback for days and at times
not being able to see over the tops of the grasses. Through elimination of the
extensive animal herds, suppression of fire, and the conversion of the land to
crops and pastures, the barrens rapidly disappeared, and today only small fragments
of this unique ecosystem remain in Kentucky.