Bloody Dueling Grounds on the Scott County Lines

Located on the outer ranges of the Kentucky Horse Park sits a nondescript clearing along Cane Run Creek. If you didn’t know any better, you’d probably pass by the scene without a second thought, but in between the small copse of trees and babbling waters lies a long dark history of personal disputes and spilt blood.

Once marked by a large oak tree, now lost to time, the grounds were the infamous site of many bloody duels throughout the 1800s. The area was conveniently located right on the border of Scott & Fayette county, making it a favored spot for duelists who could quickly escape the jurisdiction of local law enforcement should there be any attempt to intervene in their activities. From squabbling doctors to a Kentucky senator drawing down against a disparaging newspaper editor, many are on record to have used the site and undoubtedly there are many more we don’t know about.

In 2014, National Geographic scoured the grounds for evidence of the gunfights and discovered various spent shell casings and lead bullet fragments, all but confirming the popular use of the dueling site. (These can be found on display at the International Museum of the Horse) The practice of dueling had become such an issue for Kentucky politics during that time (1849) that a provision in Kentucky’s new charter was put in place to require all state officers to take an oath that they had never fought, used a challenge or acted as a second in a duel. Kentucky is the only state that requires its office holders to swear to uphold that provision to this day. While the provision did stem the issue of dueling, the final recorded duel at the site would not occur until 1866 between a former Union soldier, Alexander Kimbrough, and a former Confederate soldier, Jo Desha. Desha would walk away unharmed, but Kimbrough left with a pistol ball in his hip.


Website:   www.kyhorsepark.com
Phone:   859-233-4303 or 800-678-8813
Address:   4089 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511






Georgetown / Scott County Tourism Bureau