101 Things To Do In Southcentral Kentucky: Visit Fort Webb In Bowling Green
By Galen A. Smith Sr.Friday, January 18, 2008 2:59 PM CST
Because I work a lot of crazy hours at my job like a lot of us do, I have to figure a way to get out of the house every now and then and find something to do in a recreational fashion. Because if I don’t, especially during the winter months, I’ll go stir crazy! And because I tend to be a home body, I have to be creative in my thinking about what I want to do when I get out of the house on a limited budget.
Like a lot of middle class Americans these days, money is tight and traveling across the country by plane or train is not always easily attainable for me. Even to drive somewhere regionally like Nashville or Memphis can be rather expensive in gas money alone these days.
But on a recent Saturday morning with the temperature in the 40’s and a gray overcast sky, I zipped up my light blue jacket and jumped into my little 1988 Maza pickup truck. I reached for a brochure called “The Civil War in Bowing Green” that I had picked up in the lobby of one our local hotels and decided to drive over to Fort Webb Park just off Beech Bend Road and Country Club Drive near the Barren River.
I turned left on Country Club Drive and then up the hill past some rolling wood fences that are painted black. I saw the Fort Webb Historical Marker and I pulled into a parking spot and got out of my truck. I noticed I was alone and I was glad of this because I like my solitude when visiting historical places. I like for my imagination to run wild. I try to realize what it was like to live “back in the day” as our young people say these days about what it was like to live during a certain time period or when some sort of historical event was taking place such as the Civil War.
In order to get to Fort Webb which is probably about 50 to 100 yards from the parking lot, you have to walk up a small trail and over some rocks. Then, you have to walk up a set of steps made out of railroad ties to get to the top of the fort. Once you get to the top, you realize it’s just a big, impacted mound of dirt that’s obviously been there for more than 100 years. However, I was impressed of what’s left of the fort which has pretty much maintained its original shape. The fort has a deep trench that was dug around it probably by some soldier with no more than hand shovels. The historical marker explains its unusual earthworks calling it a “lunette fort with embankments” that had three mounted cannons.
According to the brochure, Fort Webb is now considered to be a city park and it has retained its original configuration since the time it was constructed by the Confederate army. It is one of six forts that were in our area where guns were placed to fortify the hills because Bowling Green and Warren County had productive farms and ample qualities of fresh water. In other words, Bowling Green and Warren County offered a lot of cool supplies for an army and we were the center of a reliable and defensible transportation network that made us one of state’s most strategic cities. The L&N Railroad, a system of halfway decent roads (for that time period, I’m sure) and the Barren River could be used to move troops and supplies easily and fast. That’s why both the Confederate and Union armies wanted to occupy Bowling Green badly. Originally, the Confederates had Bowling Green and then they lost it to the Union Army. You know . . . kind like a fumble in a football game.
After my brief visit and reflection time at Fort Webb, I realized that this was enough Civil War history for me on this day. I went away from there feeling like there is really a lot more to learn about Bowling Green’s Civil War history and that this site had been an untapped source of history for me.Perhaps, I am just scratching at the tip of an iceberg as far as Civil War history goes in Southcentral Kentucky. But seeing Fort Webb for the first time, I feel that I may be onto something big and that I need to try to visit more Civil War sites in the area in the near future. It was nice to get out of the house on a Saturday morning and take a quick look into our fertile, historical past. And best of all, it didn’t even cost me a dime, accept for the gas that I used in my little pickup truck to drive across town and back.
This blog was re-posted with permission from Galen Smith, a Bowling Green resident who loves exploring the area and writing about his adventures.