The north end of the historic walking trail, anchored by the nationally known Red Bird Petroglyph rock with ancient inscriptions.
River Walk Trail
Follows the route of the famous Warrior's Path, the ancient trail made by buffalo then by Indians for countless years before being used by explorers such as Dr. Thomas Walker, who passed by here in 1750, and Daniel Boone, who also came this way on his first extended hunting trip to Kentucky in 1769.
On the banks of Goose Creek, the water course by which early salt makers shipped their product to the Bluegrass in the late 1790s up until the Civil War, when winter and spring floods made it possible to navigate their 60-foot salt barges.
Goose Salt Works
The most historic spot in the county. It was here in the mid-1790s that the Langford Salt Works was established and later, in 1807, when it was being called the Goose Creek Salt Works, where the first county government was formed in a cabin most likely like the Cotton Cabin, which was moved to this site in late 2010. The Cotton Cabin is one of the oldest log structures in Kentucky.
A Walk Through History
Within the City Limits of Manchester is a unique park system that, when connected by a riverside walking trail of serene beauty, offers the visitor a chance to soak up some of the early history not only of Manchester and Clay County, but southeast Kentucky as well.
The key to the historic park system is the River Walk Trail that begins on the north end of town at Rawlings/Stinson Park, and ends at the south end at the Goose Creek Salt Works Pioneer Village. This unique trail is anchored at the north by the famous Red Bird Petgroglyph, the large rock of national reknown (it's on the National Register of Historic Places) that contains ancient inscriptions by either European explorers, or Indians, or both. Check it out on Google or Wikipedia at:
The trail itself follows the route of the Warrior's Path, one of the most historically significant trails in American History. Created by buffalo searching for salt deposits, the route was used for countless years by Indians traveling between the Smoky Mountains in the south and the wilderness north of the Ohio River. The trail was used by long hunters and explorers, including Dr. Thomas Walker who followed it in this section of Goose Creek in 1750, and by Daniel Boone, 19 years later in 1769.
Goose Creek itself was one of the most important waterways in early Kentucky history. The state legislature recognized its importance as a way to transport extremely valuable salt from the salt works early on and passed several acts to help improve it for navigation for salt barges. The walker will have to use his imagination to visualize 60-foot barges loaded with salt barrels floating down the river during "salt tides" -- so called spring and winter floods.
Finally, at the south end of the trail is the re-creation of the Goose Creek Salt Works, which was located at this spot beginning in the mid 1790s when it was known as the Langford Works. The small community here was designated by the State Legislature to serve as the county seat when the county was created in April 1807. The first court met in the cabin of Robert Baker, most likely very similar to the Cotton Cabin seen here now, which according to several sources was built before the county was formed. It was moved here from its original location on the "Cotton Bend" downstream, where salt barge maker Jesse Cotton lived in it with his wife Jane.