When former Kentucky Poet Laureate Richard Taylor took a job at Kentucky State University in 1975, he purchased a fixer-upper -- in need of a roof, a paint job, city water, and central heating -- that became known to his friends as "Taylor's Folly." The historic Giltner-Holt House, which was built in 1859 and sits close by the Elkhorn Creek a few miles outside of Frankfort, became the poet's entrance into the area's history and culture, and the Elkhorn became a source of inspiration for his writing.
Driven by topophilia (love of place), Taylor focuses on the eight-mile stretch of the creek from the Forks of the Elkhorn to Knight's Bridge to provide a glimpse into the economic, social, and cultural transformation of Kentucky from wilderness to its current landscape. He explores both the natural history of the region and the formation of the Forks community. Taylor recounts the Elkhorn Valley's inhabitants from the earliest surveyors and settlers to artist Paul Sawyier, who memorably documented the creek in watercolors, oils, and pastels. Interspersed with photographs and illustrations -- contemporary and historic -- and intermixed with short vignettes about historical figures of the region, Elkhorn: Evolution of a Kentucky Landscape delivers a history that is by turns a vibrant and meditative personal response to the creek and its many wonders.
Flowing across four counties in central Kentucky, Elkhorn Creek is the second largest tributary of the Kentucky River. Known for its beauty and recreational opportunities, Elkhorn Creek has become an increasingly popular location for canoeing, kayaking, and camping and is one of the state's best-known streams for smallmouth bass, bluegills, and crawfish. Like Walden Pond for Henry David Thoreau, the Elkhorn has been a touchstone for Taylor. A beautiful blend of creative storytelling and historical exploration of one of the state's beloved waterways, Elkhorn celebrates a gem in the heart of central Kentucky.
"Richard Taylor's rich prose and 40 years of personal experience while living near and floating the Elkhorn offers readers a superb, diverse portrait of this beloved region." -- Ron Ellis, editor of Of Woods and Waters: A Kentucky Outdoors Reader
"Richard Taylor's Elkhorn: Evolution of a Kentucky Landscape -- a rather unique blend of artful writing, personal anecdote, historical research, and narrative vignette -- will bring a new audience (and level of appreciation) to Kentucky's lively past." -- Valerie Askren, author of Hike the Bluegrass and Beyond
"What a pleasure it is as a Kentuckian to know that Richard Taylor dwells among us. I can't imagine a better guide to the rivers and streams of our state. With a poet's eye and an historian's curiosity, he takes us deep into the ancient story of Elkhorn Creek, a tale as richly layered as the stratified limestone along its banks." -- Erik Reece, author of Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness
"I have lived in the beautiful Elkhorn Creek valley for over 30 years and thought I knew a lot about it. But when I read Richard Taylor's new book, my eyes were opened by its colorful and fascinating history and major impact it had on the development of modern Kentucky. Taylor takes the reader on a wonderful journey through both the natural and cultural history of Elkhorn Creek, weaving in the physical, psychological, philosophical and sometimes spiritual, impact Elkhorn Creek had, and still has, on its inhabitants." -- Marc Evans, board chair of the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust
"The poet and philosopher in Taylor emerges in the text often, lending an esoteric quality and depth rarely found in local histories. This deep, richly researched book gives readers a powerful understanding of Elkhorn Creek's history, geology and place in central Kentucky society." -- Kentucky Afield
"The book is a gentle trip down a calm stretch of the river, stopping here and there to talk about what has happened in its vicinity. Interspersed with the history are loving descriptions of the region which has happened to avoid the worst of urban sprawl. Elkhorn is the kind of local history that every county and region needs, but few have. The book is a joy to read." -- Me, You, and Books
"Taylor's newest book is a passionate meditation on the history of Elkhorn Creek, and the author's home within the surrounding landscape. A... thoroughly researched piece of creative nonfiction, Taylor's work truly earns the Thomas D. Clark Medallion, an award reserved for books concerning Kentucky history and culture." -- The Rambler
"Thanks to a remarkable attention to detail that could only be the result of exhaustive research on the topic, [Taylor's] descriptions of the people and events that have shaped the region throughout its history make it easy for readers to paint a vivid mental picture. His passion for the subject is evident as he walks us, step-by-step, through a storied, and at times violent, past." -- Corbin News Journal
"A work of sociocultural ecology, Elkhorn provides the reader with a beautifully written introduction to this rural hub in Kentucky." -- Choice