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[photo] The Blue Hole at the McConnell Springs Nature Preserve
Photograph by Eric Thomason, courtesy of Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation

McConnell Springs is a significant site in Lexington history successfully preserved by local citizens. It is at McConnell Springs that the naming of the city of Lexington took place in 1775. In the 1770s Kentucky began attracting numerous frontiersmen, particularly after the conclusion in 1774 of Virginia Governor Dunmore's campaign against the American Indians of the west. William McConnell and some fellow frontiersmen came from Pennsylvania to explore the "Kentucky Country." In 1775 McConnell and his group were camped at the McConnell Springs site when news of the first shots of the Revolutionary War reached them from nearby Fort Boonesborough. Lexington, Kentucky, was thereby named by these frontiersmen in honor of the city of Lexington, Massachusetts, where "the shots heard round the world" were fired and the American Revolutionary War began.

A historic stone foundation at McConnell Springs
Photograph by Eric Thomason, courtesy of Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation

Over the next 220 years this property served as the location of a mill, distillery, gunpowder factory, and dairy farm. Sadly enough, as the city of Lexington grew, McConnell Springs was swallowed by industrial development. Fortunately, local citizens undertook efforts to reclaim the site in the late 1980s and funds were raised to turn the site into a park. Returning the site to its natural state required removing tons of trash and construction debris that had accumulated in the area over several years. Now, McConnell Springs serves as not only a historical site of interest but also a natural park. The park is interspersed with rock fences that attest to its earlier years as well as a dam from the early mill and the foundation of what might have been the home of the early proprietor William McConnell.

McConnell Springs is located on Old Frankfort Pike west of downtown Lexington. McConnell Springs is open to the public daily for hiking, exploration, and bird watching with a major emphasis on education. Public tours of the park are given on a regular basis. For more information on tours or special events please call McConnell Springs at 859-225-4073 or visit their website.

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