The Red River Gorge has become quite possibly the most popular place in the state for outdoor recreation and is world famous for its beautiful arches. At this time there are 1,157 confirmed arches in the region. Though many arches have been officially documented in the last 30 years due to the hard work of folks, such as Larry Peterson and Bill Patrick (both of whom we will feature later this month) as well as those who submitted locations to them, arch hunting has been going on in The Gorge for 80 years. Dr. Carl Clark and Clarence Henson are mentioned in Robert Ruchhoft’s 1976 book “Kentucky’s Land Of Arches - The Red River Gorge” as having been “exploring the Red River Gorge for over three decades.” He thanked them both in the acknowledgements for their knowledge of the area and their help. His book is the earliest known publication dedicated to Kentucky’s Arches. Then there were folks like legendary forest ranger Don Figg. While out there exploring the landscape, he was also setting the groundwork for Wolfe County Search and Rescue. There are others that we are just learning about. Dell Sasser, a former naturalist at Natural Bridge State Park; Alan Cornette; Dan Dourson, a former ranger; John and Cynthia Robinson who discovered and rediscovered Sky View Arch; and Raymond Bryant who documented many arches and led group hikes to them. Jerry Bennett had a cabin as a base camp in Wolfe County. He would go on to document a wealth of arches in the region. There is a rich history of great people who laid the groundwork for arching in the Red River Gorge. Many have passed on, but thankfully there are many more who are still alive. There are arches that were found that have been lost again waiting to be rediscovered. For those arches which have stayed found, there are stories about those who discovered them that still need to be told. There is an adventure in the history of Kentucky’s arches that awaits us. After Arch Awareness month ends we plan to still bring the stories of these folks to light on both the website and here in the group.
Featured above is a photo of an original copy of Robert Ruchhoft’s book “Kentucky’s Land Of Arches - The Red River Gorge” (courtesy Todd Fife). The revised edition can be easily found online for $10. There are three editions: the 1976 edition, a 1986 revised edition, and a 2009 ‘millennium’ edition. The 1986 edition is the most readily available edition. Robert Ruchoft will also have a feature later this month on his contributions to arching in Kentucky..