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Kentucky’s Hidden Gems: 5 Intriguing Historical Facts

The Bluegrass State is known for many things, chief among them being bourbon, horses, and basketball. Ask any Kentuckian, however, and they’ll tell you there’s more to the state than just its major exports. Kentucky has always been a varied and fascinating place, and these five historical facts are proof that our Old Kentucky Home has never been boring.

That Time It Rained Meat

Any cursory search for “weird Kentucky facts” will yield the Kentucky meat shower as a result. One day in the spring of 1876, it quite literally rained meat– and the scientific explanation has evaded people since. There are plenty of probable interpretations, of course, with vomiting vultures generally taking the top spot. It’s not even clear what kind of meat fell from the sky that day; just that the ordeal lasted several minutes and covered well over a quarter of an acre. The story remains an iconic part of Bath County’s mythos– apart from the fact it, well, actually happened. You can still find a preserved meat shard located on Transylvania University’s campus in Lexington, KY, surrounded by various historical science and medicine oddities on display.

Cocaine Bear

The subject (with creative liberties, that is) of a recent film by Elizabeth Banks, Cocaine Bear, is at the heart of “The Bluegrass Conspiracy.” The conspiracy in question was a drug trafficking ring run by several Kentuckians, which involved corrupt officials, murder, and a litany of books written in the decades following. The ringleader, Drew Norton, was ironically a narcotics officer; one day in 1985, he fell to his death from a plane when he became ensnared in his parachute. The enormous quantity of cocaine he had with him fell to the ground, too, and retrospective understandings of the event include a massive black bear coming across the drugs. One thing led to another, the bear overdosed on coke, and the rest is history. You can find the taxidermied bear (who has taken on names such as “Pablo Escobear”) at Kentucky for Kentucky’s Fun Mall in Lexington.

Daniel Boone’s Bigfoot Sighting

Famous frontiersman Daniel Boone allegedly ran into Bigfoot, or perhaps a cousin of Bigfoot, while traversing the region. According to Boone’s journals, he killed a creature he referred to as “Yahoo,” based upon the creature in Jonathan Swift’s novel Gulliver’s Travels. To this day, the legend of Bigfoot prevails in Appalachia and beyond, with sightings particularly concentrated around the Pacific Northwest and Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio.

Tiny Green Men

As Volker Jansen of the History Channel writes, our archetype of extraterrestrials as little green humanoids didn’t come out of nowhere. On the contrary, we can trace the idea back to its conception: a group of alien-arrival witnesses in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The Suttons’ farm was, according to the eleven family members who reported the incident, paid a visit by these short-in-stature creatures in August of 1955. Though the farm was located in the community of Kelly, it was the nearby Hopkinsville police station where the Suttons shared their story with. According to their story, the aliens didn’t necessarily get up to anything nefarious; this didn’t stop them from attempting to fend off the shimmery creatures with a shotgun. The police found no extraterrestrials, as the story goes, but some UFO enthusiasts maintain that the Suttons’ experience was the real deal.

Wooly Mammoths in the Bluegrass

This one’s pretty straightforward– in the prehistoric days, mammoths did, in fact, roam the region that would become Kentucky. So too, did mastodons, according to archaeologists, although the landscape looked a lot different than it does today thanks to their residency taking place during the Ice Ages. Fossils proving their existence in the state can be found all over museums in the region, such as Big Bone Lick State Park in Union, KY.

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