In 1774, James Harrod led thirty-seven men from western Virginia down the Ohio River toward Kentucky. The Group traveled up the Kentucky River some distance until they embarked overland. After the group crossed the Salt River, they came upon a spring. The site was chosen as the location for a fort, and the first permanent European settlement in, what is now, the State of Kentucky was founded. The men named the settlement Harrodstown. Kentucky’s first school was established in the fort.


  • Fort Harrod exterior
    Fort Harrod exterior
  • Sketch of the original Ft. Harrod
    Sketch of the original Ft. Harrod
  • School in Fort Harrod
    School in Fort Harrod

     Soon after arriving at the site, Harrod and his men began exploring the area with an eye to establishing farms. After they had chosen sites for individual farms, the men drafted a written agreement that established the town. Inside the town, the houses were neatly arranged; each measuring approximately twenty feet by thirty feet and were one and a half stories high. Once construction of the houses had been completed, a lottery was held to assign ownership of each dwelling.1 Lord Dunmore’s War against Natives exploded along the Ohio River in 1774, Harrod and many of men participated.2

    In 1777, which Americas Revolution raging, Harrod and other Kentucky leaders decided that greater fortifications were needed to secure the settlements. Fort Harrod was constructed on the south side of town fork for this purpose. During the summer of 1777, Shawnee warriors laid siege to the fort. Many, both native and settler were killed during the siege.3

     A 2/3 scale replica of the fort was constructed in 1927. The walls were reconstructed in 1989.4 The living history museum and park is a reconstruction of the camp that was known as the settlement Harrodstown which was the first pioneer settlement in Kentucky. The reconstructed fort gives visitors a glimpse of life on the Kentucky frontier. The complex includes a number of recreated and historic structures, as well as the George Rogers Clark Federal Monument. It is also holds the cabin where Abraham Lincoln's parents, Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, were married. Additional features of the park include the Pioneer Cemetery, the oldest burial site for Kentucky's first settlers, a small museum, and an outdoor venue for performances. The George Rogers Clark Memorial was dedicated in 1934 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 


1) Mason, Kathryn Harrod, “James Harrod” 1948, pp. 42-49 accessed through http://friendsoffortharrod.com/james-harrod.htm July 4, 2015. 2) Mason, Kathryn Harrod, “James Harrod” 1948, pp. 53-67 accessed through http://friendsoffortharrod.com/james-harrod.htm July 4, 2015. 3) Mason, Kathryn Harrod, “James Harrod” 1948, pp. 110-120 accessed through http://friendsoffortharrod.com/james-harrod.htm July 4, 2015. 4) “Old Fort Harrod A Living Experience”, accessed from www.harrodsburgky.com/pdf/Harrodsburg_Old_Fort_Harrod_release_2014.pdf , July 4, 2015.