The contrast between this salt-producing region that straddled Salt River and the rest of Kentucky at this early date was so great that it is hard to make it comprehensible. Salt was beginning to be produced at a few other places throughout the state, but nowhere else was there such a concentration of wells and furnaces. Hundreds of men were employed in the actual industry as woodchoppers and Wagoner’s, kettle tenders, and water drawers. Many more, such as hunters, and storekeepers, coopers, and carpenters, were directly involved. People came from all over the wilderness to procure the precious salt—–merchants, traders, and private individuals.
Salt was sent by pack train, flatboat, and canoe to one end of the wilderness to the other. Bullitt Lick’s must have taken on something of the nature of a boomtown—-a startling, unbelievable sight to the hunters in from the deep woods and to the settlers from their lonely clearings.
Thomas Perkins from Lincoln County wrote in a letter on February 27, 1785: “I have seen but one spring of consequence in this district which is at a place called Bullitt’s Lick on a small branch of Salt River . . . At this spring, by the best information I could get, about 40 gallons of water will produce a bushel of salt. At the distance of a quarter of a mile from the spring is a small mountain 30 or 35 feet deep, and that the nearer they approach the mountain, the stronger the water is impregnated with salt.” Perkins indicated that the salt was sold at $3.00 per bushel.
The furnaces were long trenches dug back along the top of a bank. They were walled with slate about 15 inches thick, which was laid with a mortar of clay. The kettles themselves held about 22 gallons each and they sat on top of this trench in a row, with as many as fifty in the string. The furnace was fired from in front; the flames and smoke being sucked along under the kettles and out through a stone chimney at the far end of the pit. Generally they were protected from the elements by a shed roof supported on poles. It was quite common for two of these long narrow furnace pits to be under a single roof. The water was boiled for about twenty-four hours, then transferred to a cooler—a trough, which acted as sort of a settling tank. Then the clear, saturated brine was drawn off into the kettles again, and boiled rapidly until it began to grain. Sometimes blood was added to purify the water or the white of an egg.
This was a mineral water spa that enjoyed a long period of popularity in Kentucky and through out parts of the south. The water was thought to have medicinal properties that could cure a variety of illnesses. Many people came to Shepherdsville for the season, which usually was from June through August. Here they would drink and bathe in the mineral water. The first development of the springs began in 1838 when 20 acres were opened with accommodations for about 200 people. Over time, the grounds were further developed and more people could be cared for. The Civil War Caused the restriction of travel and thus a corresponding decline of Paroquet. In 1871, a group of investors from Louisville tried to revive the springs. A new hotel was built and accommodations for up to 800 people developed. This revived popularity was short lived because the hotel burned to the ground in 1879. The water was still sold until circa 1915, and the old buildings were still used for a number of years after the fire, however the height of Paroquet’s popularity was just prior to the Civil War.
AMERICA’S CIVIL WAR
The railroad participated in the war by transporting troops and equipment as well as produce and goods both north and south of Bullitt County. Railroad property, including the bridges at Shepherdsville and Lebanon Junction were frequent objects for destruction by Confederate troops. Many Bullitt County men fought for both sides.
1900 to 1910
A new courthouse was constructed in 1900. Modern road bridges were constructed across the Salt River at Shepherdsville and Greenwell Ford. Many smaller bridges were constructed during this period also.
From 1900 until 1950, Bullitt County and Shepherdsville remained primarily an AGRICULTURAL AREA. The population remained about the same and little economic development was carried out. During the 1950’s, the KENTUCKY TURNPIKE was constructed from Louisville to Elizabethtown. The turnpike was a modern 4-lane limited-access highway. There was a full interchange and toll booth at Shepherdsville and a limited interchange at Lebanon Junction. The road changed the area. Quicker access to Louisville caused people in Louisville and Jefferson County to move to Bullitt County. New businesses were opened and small industry began to move in.
During the 1980’s the FEDERAL INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM was developed. The Kentucky Turnpike was made a part of this system. New markets came to the county and economic development continued at a greater pace. By the year 2000, plans were made for three new industrial parks.
*Portion of the above text are from the Bullitt County Fiscal Court’s website located at www.ltadd.org/bullitt2/history.html.
CEDAR GROVE ELEMENTARY
Cedar Grove School was originally housed in a log cabin built in 1890 by Smock McGruder on Earnest Ream’s farm. About the turn of the century a frame building was erected by George Herps. In the mid-twenties the building was enlarged. In the late fifties a room was built separate from the older structure.
Kate Weyler is said to have been the first teacher at the school. Other teachers in those early years were Henry Cochrane and Nora Bridwell. Among the teachers who taught at Cedar Grove were Emily Robinson, Maudie Cundiff, Thelma Roby and M.J. Cundiff.
The present school building was erected in 1964. It consists of 22 classrooms with a large multipurpose room, kitchen, and other facilities needed in a modern school. William Lee was the principal. Today’s principal is David Pate.
ROBY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Ora L. Roby School is named for a former teacher and superintendent of Bullitt County Schools. It was opened January 6, 1958, and at one time housed all the elementary children north of Salt River. Four principals who have operated Roby are: Robert Tanner, Raymond Terry, Billy Horrell and Woodrow Masden.
Prior to the construction of Roby Elementary, children went to Shepherdsville School, which housed grades 1-12. When Roby opened the first five grades were moved. Robert Tanner was the first principal. The sixth and seventh grades were added in the 1964-1965 school year.
Since 1970, a student volunteer aid program has been carried on in agreement with Bullitt Central High School. It allows students who qualify to work under a teacher in Roby School and in an actual class situation. Most help with physical education and individual reading.
Another “happening” for the elementary school is Career Week. Firemen, policemen, and others involved in various businesses, professions, and public office are invited to come and spend the day. They tell or show the children what they do in their chosen professions. Woodrow Masden was the principal. Today’s principal is Martha Bowman.
BULLITT CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
Bullitt Central began in 1970, as the result of the consolidation of the high schools in Mt. Washington, Lebanon Junction, and Shepherdsville. It opened with 53 faculty members, 1250 students, principal George Valentine and 2 assistant principals, Marvin Stewart and Ronald Murphy. Today it has 75 faculty and 1,173 students. Its principal now is Ms. Karen Hayden.
SAINT ALOYSIUS SCHOOL
Rev. Bernard W. Knoer, priest of St. Aloysius Catholic Church planned for a school in his Parish. On Sept 26, 1953, a lot was donated by Mrs. Ivy T. McBride to build a convent. The convent was completed on August 15, 1954 and housed the Ursuline Sisters who staffed the school. Rev. Adolph J. Schwabenton succeeded Father Knoer and carried on the work toward a school. It was opened in 1954. Sister Guidonia was in charge of eight grades (4 teachers and 90 students).
The new brick school was dedicated in 1957. At this time high school classes were added. Due to the lack of funds the high school classes were discontinued in 1966. Sister Anthanaise was the principal. Today St. Aloysius has 25 faculty members and 215 students. Its principal is Ms. Iris Whitney and Reverend Jerry Bell is the pastor.
The city has its very first flag. It originated with a flag contest in the fall of 2000. The best entrants were awarded with prizes. The Mayor and City Administrator worked with a flag vendor to come up with a suitable design for the city flag. It was presented to the city council for their approval. The flags are in and can be purchased at city hall for $42.00 or $71.00 with all accompanying hardware and flagpole. The banners are being hung on Buckman Street and have a grey background to them.
The city flag has a white background with maroon circle containing the words “City of Shepherdsville Kentucky” with stars around the words. The words are shaded and show the name of our town. There is an inner white circle that contains the shape of the county in black. The number “1793” is in maroon to symbolize the founding date of the city: December 11, 1793. Next to the number is a maroon star symbolizing the location of the city within Bullitt County. The Salt River runs through Shepherdsville and the county and it is recognized with a curved line in maroon. Below the river and other items is a buffalo to symbolize Shepherdsville’s early origins with the Buffalo Trail in pursuit of the salt in the area. Above the county outline and still within the circle is an American Bald Eagle in flight. This is to remind us of our freedom and to remember all those who sacrificed for preservation of it.