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Bardstown is a city in Nelson Countymarker, Kentuckymarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 10,374 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Nelson County. It is named for David Bard, the man who obtained the land for the city from the governor of Virginiamarker, and his brother William Bard, the surveyor who laid out the town.


St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown

Bardstown is the second oldest city in Kentuckymarker. It was settled in the 1780s, and received its charter in 1790.

Bardstown was the first center of Catholicism west of the Appalachian Mountainsmarker in the original territory of the United States. The Diocese of Bardstown was established on February 8, 1808, and served all Catholics between the Appalachians and the Mississippi River, an area now served by 44 dioceses and archdioceses in 10 states. Its cathedral still stands as the Basilica of Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedralmarker. The seat of the diocese was transferred to Louisvillemarker in 1841. Bardstown is still the home of a Catholic high school, Bethlehem High Schoolmarker.

The Old Talbott Tavernmarker, built in 1779 and located just off the Courthouse Square in the center of Bardstown, is another piece of Bardstown's rich history. Several notable American icons have passed through the tavern's doors, including Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Boone. Several bullet holes located in an upstairs wall are reputed to have been put there by Jesse James. It's rumored that some of the people who stayed at the tavern in years past never checked out, even after death, as some people claim to have encountered ghosts or other paranormal activity at the tavern.

Bardstown is the home of My Old Kentucky Home State Parkmarker. Here, Judge John Rowan and his wife Ann Lytle Rowan built "Federal Hill," the mansion that allegedly inspired Stephen Foster's song "My Old Kentucky Home". Federal Hill is depicted on the reverse of the Kentucky state quarter issued by the United States Mint in 2001.

Several distilleries operate in and around Bardstown including Jim Beam, Maker's Markmarker, and Heaven Hill. The large amount of bourbon produced in the area gave rise to the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival and Bardstown's title Bourbon Capital of the World. A public museum, the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskeymarker, showcases this aspect of local history.

Bardstown's downtown areamarker is a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Geography and maps

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , all but of which is land.


As of the census of 2000, there were 10,374 people, 4,195 households, and 2,701 families residing in the city. The population density was . There were 4,488 housing units at an average density of . The racial makeup of the city was 82.11% White, 15.07% African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.94% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.67% from other races, and 1.07% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 1.38% of the population.

There were 4,195 households out of which 34.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.7% were married couples living together, 17.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.6% were non-families. 31.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.00.

The age distribution was 27.7% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 87.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,497, and the median income for a family was $41,065. Males had a median income of $31,850 versus $20,537 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,681. About 14.6% of families and 17.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.6% of those under age 18 and 15.8% of those age 65 or over.

Bardstown, along with Nelson County, is part of the Louisville Metropolitan Statistical Areamarker.


The Bluegrass Parkway is a limited-access highway that passes just south of Bardstown. A part of the Kentucky parkway system, the highway was formerly a toll road, but tolls were removed in 1991 when enough tolls were collected to pay off its construction bonds.

Railroad freight service is provided by the R.J. Corman Railroad/Central Kentucky Lines, over the former Bardstown Branch of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. Corman operates My Old Kentucky Dinner Train, a passenger train specializing in dinner service that travels the line from the historic Bardstown depot to Clermontmarker and back.

Attractions and events

My Old Kentucky Home

External links

See also


  1. History of Bardstown steeped in bourbon Courier Journal April 4, 2007
  2. Jay P. Dolan, The American Catholic Experience: A History from Colonial Times to the Present (Notre Dame, Indiana: Notre Dame University Press, 1992), pp. 119, 160-61.
  3. Dolan, American Catholic Experience, p. 161.
  4. - Old Talbott Tavern
  5. - History
  6. Kentucky State Symbols

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