Finding Fort Duffield

July 26, 2010

Though it doesn’t exactly qualify as Kentucky art, Fort Duffield is an interesting example of Kentucky architecture…or, I guess, more like engineering. The Union earthenworks fort was constructed in late 1861 to protect the town of West Point (intended as a Union supply point) and nearby Louisville.

Earthen wall at Fort Duffield

I recently visited for the first time, stopping by during a drive back from Owensboro in west-central Kentucky. Though I’ve lived in Louisville for over ten years and have driven along the highway next to the park entrance several times, I had no idea it was there. This time, I happened to see the few signs along the road. The hard-to-find entrance sits along a stretch of Dixie Highway between Fort Knox and Louisville, an…atmospheric…stretch populated by bars, strip clubs, motels, and a few restaurants.

The earthenworks still remain, sitting some 300 feet above West Point. The site offers fantastic views of the Ohio River and the town of West Point below. Information at the site describes the lives–and plight–of the Michigan and Indiana troops who occupied the fort. Though one died at the hand of a sniper, a number of others died of various illnesses. I left imagining what the troops did all day and if they wondered which of their compatriots might die next, not from hostile action, but from the invisible spread of sickness.