Blue Wing Landing is not a name many in Frankfort, Kentucky know. Likewise, Liberty Hall is not something many people in Owen County would know much, if anything, about. But Kentucky history forever ties these two properties together in two separate, but adjoining, counties.
Enter Rockin Thunder Jet Boats out of Madison, Indiana. Janet Harding and Paul Nicholson are the owners and Coast Guard certified captains of Rockin’ Thunder Jet Boat Rides, LLC. They had the intuitiveness to be the first boats to bring paid passengers through the locks on the Kentucky River once they opened in the Spring of 2015. They lobbied with leadership in the community to bring their boats to Frankfort for overnight stays two years ago. These trips are two day adventures that originate out of Madison and take the adventurers on a 155 round trip journey down the Ohio and Kentucky Rivers. During their trip, they stop for lunch and breaks for their passengers. One of those stops happens to be Blue Wing Landing Inn, in Owenton, Kentucky. It didn’t take long for the captains to learn of the historic ties between Frankfort and Owenton.
The properties were both owned by the first Kentucky Senator, John Brown, and his family. Senator Brown built Liberty Hall in Frankfort, Kentucky. The other building on the historic Liberty Hall site is the Orlando Brown House, the home of his second son Orlando Brown. But Senator John Brown had two sons who survived past infancy. The eldest was Mason Brown, who also served Kentucky as a Secretary of State (1855-1859). Mason and Orlando each built summer homes on the property that their father purchased in Owen County. Situated along the banks of the Kentucky River, the property was once home to the largest peach and apple orchard in Kentucky. As well as serving as a stopover for the steamboats traveling the river. Their homes were located in a tight bend in the river that created a natural peninsula. Sadly, Orlando’s summer home sits in ruins after years of flooding and neglect. While Mason’s home was restored over a period of year and is now known as the Blue Wing Landing Inn. This designated National Historic Landmark is situated on 240 acres and also boasts remnants of slave cabins throughout the property. The cook’s cabin actually survives to this day next to the main house and serves as additional sleeping quarters during rentals.
Enter again the ambitious owners and captains of Rockin’ Thunder Jet Boats, Captains Paul & Janet. As a fundraiser for Liberty Hall Historic Site, a historic river adventure was planned between Liberty Hall and Blue Wing Landing. Those adventures took place this past September over three days. Adventurers received a light breakfast and a tour at Liberty Hall. Then boarded the Frankfort Trolley to River View Park Dock to board the newly built 20 passenger Rockin’ Thunder Jet Boat. A high speed historical adventure on the Kentucky River, venturing through two locks, awaited those brave enough to take the journey down river to Blue Wing Landing Inn. There, Kathleen and Doug Martin would feed lunch to the weary travelers. And give them a tour of Blue Wing Landing and an overview of its history and ties to the Brown family. Each way during this trip, a stop is made at the Kentucky River Campground for a snack and a bathroom break. This adventure takes an entire day and can be considered a bit costly. But it’s well worth it for history buffs and river rats alike!
Public guided tours of Liberty Hall are given Monday-Saturday and depart from Liberty Hall located at 218 Wilkinson Street at 1:30 pm. Please note: Liberty Hall Historic Site is closed to the public for general tours during the winter months, mid-November through mid-March.
Liberty Hall Historic Site’s office is open year-round, except on holidays. The office will be closed from December 22, 2016-January 2, 2017.
$6 for adults (18+)
$3 for youth (age 5-18)
Free for children (under age 5)
Free for Friends of Liberty Hall (click here to learn more about becoming a Friend)
School tours must be scheduled in advance. The fee for school tours is $3.00 per child. One chaperone per every 10 children is free; each additional adult pays $5.00. To schedule a school tour, call (502) 227-2560 or contact us by email.
This 240 acre farm in Owen County is as historic as it is adventurous. Brown’s Bottom was home to one of Kentucky’s most famous Statesman, United States Senator and Governor John Brown. The Greek Revival home that serves as the main lodging facility can sleep up to 10 guests. Beautifully restored, the home is on the National Register of Historic Places. You won’t be spending all your time inside however, as this property has the opportunity for some great adventures. There are 14 kayaks available for guests, and Blue Wing will provide shuttles to several access sites on the Kentucky River. Fishing is good in the river and in locally stocked ponds on the property. There are miles of hiking trails on the property, and opportunities to view numerous species of birds and wildlife. Blue Wing Landing Outfitters can set up a memorable deer or turkey hunt. Surrounded on three sides by the Kentucky River, Blue Wing Landing Inn is a top notch destination for friends and families looking for an authentic, unforgettable Kentucky experience. For more information, contact Kathleen at 513-309-5022, or email Kathleen@bluewinglanding.com. For more information, contact
Based out of Madison, Indiana, Rockin’ Thunder Jet Boat Rides, LLC. offer rides on the KENTUCKY RIVER and are fully narrated and allow you to soak up the wonders of the river. Your Captain will inform you of geologic and historic points of interest, point out wildlife, share river stories and provide great photo opportunities. For more information, contact 812-701-1155, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.