Come to Frankfort – catch a glimpse of our history and envision the possibilities of our future. Discover a city defined by its river – both historically and recreationally. The Kentucky River features a blend of natural places along the river that are within the City’s four mile reach, but look much the same way they looked when the frontiersmen paddled their way through Kentucky centuries ago.
Our Kentucky River, an emerald green ribbon that created the dramatic setting for both the Old State Capitol and our historic downtown, is once again stepping up to the plate as a catalyst for private development. We embrace the river to not only preserve centuries of heritage, but also enhance the local and state economies for decades to come. There is a lot of new history to be made in our future.
Before the highway system, Frankfort was connected to the region through a system of maintained locks and dams. Once a working river, the Kentucky River provided transportation access from Frankfort to the Ohio River, connecting to far off locations like Cincinnati, St Louis, and beyond to the Gulf of Mexico. However, for nearly a decade the Locks have not been open and we have been cut off from the world!
Frankfort’s relationship with its river is changing. The potential for the City to rediscover the Kentucky River as a development, environmental, and recreational resource is enormous. Many existing river-adjacent cultural and tourist destinations serve as the foundation for continued re-investment.
In 2007, the Commonwealth of Kentucky partnered with the Frankfort/Franklin County Tourist and Convention Commission to reconnect the community with its river through the preparation of the Kentucky Riverfront Development Plan. Since that time, the Riverfront Development Committee, a subcommittee of the Tourist Commission, and in collaboration with the City of Frankfort and Franklin County, has moved forward with amazing accomplishments.
One of the most significant obstacles has been the closing of the Locks. Starting Memorial Day Weekend, the Kentucky River, from the mouth of the Ohio River to Frankfort, will once again be open! For nearly ten years, it has been impossible to come by boat, from the Ohio River to Frankfort, but that day is past.
The enchantment of our frontier heritage and the graciousness of Kentucky hospitality make Frankfort a wonderful place to visit – for a day or a lifetime. The Kentucky River Development Plan builds upon the past success and envisions what is yet to come.