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Levi Jackson State Park is a park located south of London Kentucky in Laurel County. The park is home to a trail called the "Wilderness Road", which was used by more than 200,000 settlers to travel to Kentucky from the eastern colonies. The park encompasses over 800 acres and includes the Defeated Camp Pioneer Burial Ground, McHargue's Mill and the Mountain Life Museum. The park provides areas for fishing, biking, horseback riding, camping, trails, golf, and other fun outdoor activities.


  • Levi Jackson State Park campground entrance sign
  • The Wilderness Trail
  • McHargue's Mill
  • Boone Trace Hiking Trail on Levi Jackson State Park
  • McHargue's Mill river view

Levi Jackson State Park provides beautiful scenery and fun activities for the whole family. The park is filled with beautiful wooded hills and historic sites that honer early pioneers and settlers who were brave enough to travel in these dangerous wilderness areas. John Freeman and Levi Jackson chose to settle in what is now Laurel County, Kentucky. In 1802 John Freeman came to Kentucky to claim a very long tract of land bordering the legendary Wilderness Road to pay for his service in the Revolutionary War. In 1803, Freeman built a large two-story home and licensed it as a tavern. His daughter Rebecca married Levi Jackson in 1815, at the time Levi was the first judge of Laurell County. The two men became partners and ran the Wilderness Road Tavern and the Laurel River Post Office. After Freeman's death, Jackson continued to run the Tavern and post office and the farmland surrounding the area became known as Jackson's Farm. On December 7th, 1931, descendants of John Freeman and Levi Jackson, Colonel G.D. Jackson and, Ella Jackson generously donated 307 acres of land to the Kentucky State Parks System in order to build a park honoring the state pioneers.

The Wilderness Road was a vital part of Kentucky's early history along with Daniel Boone's trace. The Wilderness Road was traveled by thousands of people just so they could make it to the state of Kentucky when a wagon road was constructed in Crab Orchard in Lincon County that traveled to the Cumberland Gap. The wagon road was 
commissioned by the Transylvania Company in 1775. The road was so heavily traveled that it was eventually made into a toll road.

In later years one of the most tragic events took place on the modern park on October 3rd, 1786. A group of fourteen families were moving to central Kentucky and decided to set camp on the park. The families took precautions due to the reputation of the wilderness area being very dangerous. On this evening they had felt that they had earned the right to relax after traveling so far without an attack so they began to let their guard down. The families went on to celebrate, dance and drink on their camp site and were later attacked and massacred by Indians and only 3 of the family members survived. The camp would be remembered as "Defeated Camp" and honored for years to come on the park.

History of Levi Jackson:

Levi Jackson was the first county judge of Laurel County, which is why the Wilderness Trail park was named after him and not John Freeman. His brother William Jackson was the High Sherrif of Kentucky and Indiana when he first moved there. Levi was son of Ruben Jackson and Mary Elizabeth Hutsonand married to Rebecca Freeman. He was born March 17th, 1816 in Kentucky and died July 17th, 1879 in Laurel County Kentucky.

The creation of Levi Jackson State Park and the Wilderness Road is a unique memorial to the pioneers of Kentucky. The park has had $55,000 worth of developments in cabins, foot-bridges, an observation tower, parking areas, an auditorium, and the restoration of an old log house as a museum. To this day the park is an excellent place to escape with the family for beautiful scenery and to learn the rich history of the pioneers of Kentucky. 

Kentucky State Parks "Levi Jackson History" December 7th 1931 parksky.gov http://parks.ky.gov/parks/recreationparks/levi-jackson/history.aspx

Craig Douglas Smith "Information about Levi Jackson" Geneology.com http://www.genealogy.com/ftm/s/m/i/Craig-Douglas-Smith/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-0836.html