by Ken Brooks
A new sign-in station has been added at the Mantle Rock Nature Preserve. It is located a short distance from parking, near descriptive signage for the nature preserve.
This is the third sign-in station put in place this year by volunteers Lynn Schwantes, Vince Austin and myself. Lynn designed the stations. Vince shared his workshop and his knowledge of woodworking. I provided labor.
Visitors should sign-in each time they visit. The purpose of the station is:
• To provide an indication of the number of visitors;
• To share information about visitors (such as where they reside);
• To offer an opportunity to for visitors to share suggestions and commentary;
• To display information about this nature preserve, the Kentucky Chapter and The Nature Conservancy.
This information will be useful to the Kentucky Chapter. For example, it may inform decisions about the allocation of resources for development and maintenance.
Mantle Rock is an outstanding nature preserve purchased in 1988. It includes 361 acres and a 2.75 mile easy-to-moderate hiking trail. Along the loop trail you will see prairie, rare limestone glades, native grasses, woodlands and a babbling brook with several beautiful pools. The prairies are being maintained with regular prescribed burns. The highlight for many visitors is the 30-foot tall sandstone bluffs that include overhangs and an amazing 188 foot long bridge, one of the longest in eastern United States.
The site also is culturally significant. More than 1,700 Cherokee Native Americans camped in a spot now serving as part of the hiking trail while being moved from their homelands east of this location to new reservations further west in a march identified as the “Trail of Tears.” They waited here for the Ohio River to thaw enough to allow crossing on boats.
In 2004, with help from the National Parks Service, significant signage was added to the nature preserve explaining its natural and cultural history. The site was also placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is part of the Trails of Tears project covering the route Native Americans were forced to take from their ancestral homes to their new homes in the 1830’s. Unfortunately, many perished along the way.
The nature preserve is located in western Kentucky near Paducah and a few miles from the Ohio River. Get more details and directions at the Conservancy’s Kentucky Chapter website. Visit this site to take in the spectacular setting as well as some very special history; it is open daily. And don’t forget to sign-in!