Thursday, November 15, 2012

Audubon State Park

A couple of weeks ago I did a book review of  "AUDUBON’S AVIARY: The Original Watercolors for The Birds of America," by Roberta J. M. Olson, Skira Rizzoli, 2012.  This is a fabulous book and reading it sparked my interest in John James Audubon.

Co-incidentally, the John James Audubon State Park is located in Henderson, Kentucky and is about 90 miles away from our lake house.  Last weekend we had a forecast for a nice day, so Chablis and I decided to do a little road trip and visit the park and museum for the day.

Did somebody say "nice day?"  

Audubon lived in Henderson from 1810 - 1819.  One of his greatest pleasures was exploring the surrounding forests and sketching the wildlife in the area.  In 1934 this parcel was selected to become the Audubon State Park.  Today it contains the museum, a gift shop, a nature center, a 9 hole golf course, campgrounds, cottages and 2 lakes.

I was particularly interested in visiting the museum....

The museum charges $ 5.00 per person admission and it was well worth it.  Just as we walked in, the receptionist told us that the docent had just started a tour and if we hurried up, we could join them.  Was I ever glad we did!

The tour took about 45 minutes and we got to see a lot of Audubon's personal items such as diaries and journals, clothes, dishware and silver services, and his books.  The walls are adorned with Audubon artwork and no pictures were allowed inside the galleries.  Shhhh... don't tell anyone, but I sneaked in one picture of my favorite painting by Audubon "The Tufted Titmouse."  I didn't use the flash, so it's a little dark....

It was amazing to get to walk around and see this stunning artwork.  I was especially excited to  see one of the original copper plates used to make one of the prints.  We learned that after Audubon's death, his widow, Lucy, was having a hard time making ends meet and sold many of the plates for scrap metal.  How horrifying to think that these beautiful copper plates had been melted down and destroyed.  The surviving plates are valued for hundreds of thousands of dollars each.  Many of the plates are still unaccounted for.  Maybe you have one hidden away in your attic???

At the completion of the tour, our docent asked if anyone would be interested in climbing to the top of the tower.  He seriously didn't know who he had in his group - my hand shot up so quickly that I almost slapped Chablis' head off her shoulders.  Most of our group opted for the walk up the steep steps, including the 92 year old woman who climbed up and down like a champ.  Here are some views as we go up the stairs.....

This is looking up to the top of the tower....

...and looking out from the top floor window....

Afterwards we stopped by the nature center which had huge, sun splashed windows looking out over the property...

We soon headed outside where you can see the tower behind me.  The niches in the tower walls were placed there with nesting birds in mind!

We headed out to explore one of the lakes and a trail and to find a couple of geocaches....

As we were leaving the park, I stopped to grab one last geocache and came across this grave marker that I told you about here.

After stopping at Sonic for a couple of cheeseburgers, we headed back to the lake.

If you're not familiar with the work of John James Audubon I urge you to find out more about this extraordinary man and his legacy.  His "Birds of America" is a shining example of book art and his paintings are unsurpassed in the field of ornithology.  With the holidays just around the corner, "Audubon's Aviary" would make an excellent gift.

(photos used with permission of Rizzoli Publishing.  Do not reproduce without permission)


  1. What a great place! Always fun to see items associated with a famous person.

  2. Very cool! I've used a many of his field guides! (I used garmin connect for the map on my blog. I uploaded the gpx of my hike to the site ( I use garmin Base Camp for saving my specific route first)

  3. This looks like a most awesome way to spend the day! Cool that it is so close to the lake house. Fun day trip!

  4. Always liked his work! Great outing for you!


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