Churchill Downs, Kentucky

Day 791

     Churchill Downs, Kentucky, is the home of the Kentucky Derby. The Churchills were one of Kentucky’s first families, having purchased 300 acres of land here in 1785.

     Born in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 27, 1846, Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. (grandson of explorer William Clark of Lewis & Clark fame) moved to his mother’s estate, as she died shortly after giving birth. His two bachelor uncles, John Churchill and Henry Churchill, helped raise the boy,

     After traveling to Europe and witnessing horse racing there, he returned to Louisville and asked his uncles for land to build a racing track. Clark was then founder and president of the Louisville Jockey Club.

     The new track opened to the public on May 17, 1875 with the running of the first Kentucky Derby. The track is named for John and Henry Churchill. The dirt oval track built on that land is the same on that still bears his uncles’ name today.

     The term downs comes from Great Britain and Ireland where around the year 1500, horse races were held on grassy plains before formal race tracks were built. These grassy areas were known as downs.

     That first Derby race was won by the horse Aristides, who won $2,850. Compared to the winner of this year’s Derby, 144 year later, Justify, who won $1,432,000.

     Wasn’t he once black? Actually, most of the jockeys in the late 1800’s were black, including the jockey that rode Aristides to victory.

     This is the first electric starting gate used at Churchill Downs.

     I beat the horse, as he never left the gate.

     We went to the races today. The track was “sloppy”, but it looked muddy to me.

     Barbara studied the racing forms.

     She considered the number of races each horse ran this year and last and compared that to the number of wins. She considered the pedigree of the horse, it’s sire, how the horse ran on different tracks, the trainer’s experience, and the jockey’s ability. Then she bet on the horse that had the prettiest colors.

     It must have worked, as she doubled her money.

     And they are off:

Louisville, Kentucky

Day 789

     Louisville was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark, American surveyor, soldier, and militia officer, born November 19, 1752 in Virginia. The city was named after King Louis XVI of France, who was supporting the Colonies in their Revolution. Louisville was settled because it was a mandatory stopping point on the Ohio River, as the Ohio Falls prevented continuous river travel from the upper Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico.

     We walked along the Ohio River.

     Warning signs tell you the water is polluted: 

     Louisville is probably now best known as the home of the Louisville Slugger. 

     Pete Browning, born June 17, 1861, in Louisville, Kentucky and nicknamed “The Louisville Slugger”, was already a star hitter for the Louisville Eclipse. In the 1884 season, while mired in a hitting slump, he broke his bat in a game, and 17 year old Bud Hillerich said that if he came back to his father’s workshop, Bud would make him a new one to his specifications. Browning then made 3 hits in a row with his new bat, and other baseball players wanted the bat. 

     J. F. Hillerich opened his woodworking shop in Louisville in 1855, where he employed his son, Bud. They originally made butter churns, stair railing, porch columns, and similar wood products. But after Bud made the bat for Pete Browning, and other players wanted the same, the father reluctantly began production, ultimately becoming the largest bat producing company. The bats were sold under the name “Falls City Slugger” until Bud Hillerich took over his father’s company in 1894, and renamed them “Louisville Slugger”.  Frank Bradsby, a salesman who was largely responsible for expansion of the company, became a partner in 1916, and the company’s name changed to Hillerich & Bradsby.

     Babe Ruth carved a notch in this bat for every home run he hit with it in 1927. During that season he hit a record 60 home runs. This mark stood until 1961 when Roger Maris hit 61 homers. 

     Eddie Murray used this bat on September 21, 1996 to hit his 501st home run. It was the last home run Murray hit as an Oriole.

     Notice that he customized this bat by shaving down the handle and adding grip tape. 

     Baseball players have bats custom made, each unique bat is saved in the factory’s bat vault which contains over 3000 bats. 

     The “big Glove”, delivered on July 21, 1998, is carved from 450 million year old limestone (that’s older than Kenneth Ham’s 6,000 year old universe).

     A short distance from the Slugger factory, on Main Street in Louisville, is this Statute of David, put up on May 2, 2012 to advertise the 21C hotel. It is twice the size of the original Michelangelo statute in Florence, Italy, standing at 60 feet. 

Technical Stuff:

Frankfort, Kentucky to Louisville, Kentucky: 70.7 miles

1 hour 36 minutes

9.9 MPG

Diesel: $3.10

Noah’s Ark, Williamstown, Kentucky

Day 787ark

     And it came to pass, on the 787th day, we saw the Ark. It was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits tall. As Bill Cosby asked: “What’s a cubit?” It is the distance from the crook of your arm to the tip of your longest finger, about 18 inches.

     Their were 8 humans and 6,744 animals on the Ark. If Noah had only swatted those 2 mosquitoes.

     The Ark Encounter opened on July 7, 2016 and was created to tell the story of why the Bible’s story of creation and the flood is more feasible than the evolution theory. The Ark contains 132 bays, each standing about 18 feet high, arranged into three decks

     Kenneth Alfred Ham, born October 20, 1951, in Cairns, Australia, is a Christian fundamentalist. Ham advocates biblical literalism, believing that the Book of Genesis is historical fact and the universe is approximately 6,000 years old, contrary to scientific evidence which show the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the universe is about 13.8 billion years old. He is the founder of Answers in Genesis, and the inspiration of the Ark Encounter.

     The Ark Encounter is very well done, describing the things you really don’t think about, like how did they get rid of all that poop?

     How did they circulate air through this monstrosity?air

     The exhibit showed how the Ark was constructed, and the construction methods:carpenter


 I would like to know where Noah got the bolts?bolts

     Or, porcelain, for that matter?porclein

     Another thing I did not realize is that most of the animals brought on the Ark are not as we see them today, but would have been what we call dinosaurs. In fact there were about 85 dinosaurs on the Ark.dino

     I am glad to see that Noah saved Dumbo, the flying elephant:dumbo

     Tidbit of Information: The Wampanoag Indians were natives of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It was the Wampanoag people who greeted the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. The first bible published in North America was the “Eliot Bible” which was printed in 1663 at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was not printed in English, but the Indian language of these people.laat

     He saw that it was good, and it made him happy.