Bowling Green Civil War Experience

Unique Sites Explore Civil War History in KY

Bowling Green’s Civil War Experience includes opportunities to explore the Civil War Discovery Trail from a unique perspective – both above and below ground.

Home to the National Corvette Museum and Beach Bend Amusement Park’s wooden roller coasters, Bowling Green, Kentucky is mostly known for fast-moving vehicles. However, the South Central Kentucky town can easily change gears and offer visitors some unique attractions that interpret little-known facts about the Civil War.

Local attractions have interpreted historic facts in “Bowling Green’s Civil War Experience,” which includes opportunities to hop aboard a train, dress in period clothing, ride a boat through an underground cave, travel by car along the Civil War Discovery Trail and much more.

Bowling Green’s Civil War Experience Includes “A Star in Each Flag: Conflict in Kentucky”

The Kentucky Library & Museum on Western Kentucky University’s campus encourages guests to walk through a simulated campsite, view a slave cabin, step into a community post office and examine period artifacts including John Hunt Morgan’s saddle, an original copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriett Beecher Stowe, letters between Kentucky residents written during the war, Civil War flags, weapons and more. Visitors can dress in period clothing and have a picture taken in the Victorian photo studio.

Lost River Cave & Valley

Discover more Civil War secrets underground at Lost River Cave & Valley and hear stories about both camps hiding out and the mysterious deaths of soldiers there. Lost River offered a natural water supply and the beauty of the cave provided a diversion from the ugliness of war. It is believed that on one of his “lightning raids” into Kentucky, John Hunt Morgan hid in the cave when escaping from pursuing troops. Visitors can learn more by taking a boat ride through the cave. In the fall, Lost River’s Civil War Days recreates history and includes period re-enactors, demonstrations and interactive exhibits and activities.

The Historic Railpark & Train Museum’s “Lincoln and the Railroad” exhibit features rare Matthew Brady Civil War railroad photos from the Smithsonian and a Civil War Medal of Honor. The exhibit highlights Lincoln’s little-known 20-year career as a railroad attorney in Illinois and the expansion of the railroad during his administration. (Also of interest is the Segregation and the North American Railroad permanent exhibit.)

By car, visitors can listen to an audio tour of Bowling Green’s portion of the Civil War Discovery Trail. Bowling Green was the Capitol of the Confederate State of Kentucky for approximately five months in 1861-62. Noted on the tour is the private residence that served as the capitol building.

Bowling Green’s Geography Played Big Role in Civil War

Located less than one hour from Nashville, Bowling Green’s convenient location and unique geography offer much appeal to travelers both presently and in the past. During the Civil War, the Bowling Green area’s productive farms and its ample quantities of fresh water promised plentiful supplies for an army. Access to the Louisville-Nashville Railroad, a system of roadways and the Barren River allowed for quick and efficient movement of men and supplies. Rolling hills and underground shelters offered effective opportunities to defend those transportation routes, making the area a strategic post that both camps wanted to control.

Bowling Green’s Civil War Experience Educates and Entertains Visitors

President Abraham Lincoln emphasized the value of Kentucky’s strategic importance in an 1861 letter in which he wrote, “I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game.” Through Bowling Green’s Civil War Experience visitors today can learn about how Kentucky played an important role in the war and why the Bowling Green area was viewed as such a strategic post in a war that bitterly divided the nation. To learn more about Bowling Green’s Civil War Experience and area tourism destinations, visit or contact the Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 326-7465.

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