Tracing its roots back to 1781, Hall’s on the River is the home to unique local favorites served up with a big side of history. Hall’s story begins with Captain John Holder and Holders Tavern. Captain John Holder, Daniel Boone’s contemporary, was a defender during the siege of Fort Boonesborough, which took place one mile up-river from Hall’s current location. On this property, Captain Holder established a boatyard, a station, and Holders Tavern. Here, visitors would gather to enjoy downtime in a simple, yet relaxing environment.
From Captain John Holder, to Johnny Allman, Carl Johnson, George and Gertrude Hall, Steve Hall, and the current ownership, this location and these owners have inspired many great times and unique food recipes, such as fried banana peppers and our own Hall’s Snappy Beer Cheese™. Hall’s on the River has stood in the same location from 1781 and on. However, the structure sometimes finds itself “in” the river. For years, the restaurant has dealt with a great deal of devastating floods, damaging the structure inside and out. But it still stands, peering out over the Kentucky River, enclosed in historic land.
Ale 8 1
DID YOU KNOW ... Hall's on the River proudly serves Ale-8-One? First beginning its production in 1926, Ale-8-One has become one of the most well-known products from Kentucky. It all began when G.L. Wainscott fought larger companies in court over his early cola drink, “Roxa-Kola.” Though he won in court, he believed in the addition of an even more appealing product to his business. This led him to begin experimenting with all different types of ginger beers and related mixtures he had discovered from his travels to northern Europe. From this experimentation came what is known today as Ale-8 One. The original pun behind the name, “A-Late-One", was selected at The Clark County Fair and pertains to it being the “latest” soda of its time. Bottling operations originated right here in the Winchester area, starting with Wainscott’s first location being opened in 1902. However, Ale-8 has grown into a variety of territories including areas of Ohio and Indiana to be enjoyed by many more. Be sure to take a tour of the current Ale-8 facility located in Winchester for even more historical bits of this long-standing company. #hallsontheriver#ale8one#thekentuckytradition#kentuckyhistory#kentuckyproud
DID YOU KNOW? ... Born here in Winchester, Kentucky on November 19th, 1899, Allen Tate was a world renowned poet. He was known for being the founding editor of The Fugitive, a magazine named after the group of Southern poets known as the “Fugitives” and published from 1922 to 1925. This group, including Tate and his Vanderbilt colleagues, was loyal to the formal techniques of poetry and helped defend Southern values against industrialization. His first book of poems, Mr. Pope and Other Poems, was published in 1928, based on many of his influences. After this, he worked in the educational system as a teacher, teaching at several colleges during his lifetime and served as a mentor to younger poets. He retired as a professor and passed away on February 9th, 1979, leaving a legacy for all poets that proceed him.
The shut gate and the decomposing wall:
The gentle serpent, green in the mulberry bush,
Riots with his tongue through the hush--
Sentinel of the grave who counts us all!
DID YOU KNOW? ... that on July 14th, 1776 (just 1500 yards up the river bank from Hall's) a kidnapping occurred on the murky waters of the Kentucky river which historian Harry Enoch called “one of the most legendary events on the frontier.” The daughter of Daniel Boone, Jemima, along with Fanny and Betsey, the daughters of another famous frontiersman Richard Callaway, decided to spend the day canoeing down the river. However, they were met by an unexpected fate. As they canoed too close to unknown territory, five Native Americans seized the girls and they were held captive in a remote camp deep in the Kentucky wilderness. Both Boone and Callaway led rescue parties to find the girls and after two days of tracking, Boone’s party of eight located the encampment. It only took the firing of a few shots in the air for the captors to flee and the girls were rescued unharmed. Fanny Callaway ended up marrying Captain John Holder, who was a member of the rescue party. Captain Holder established Holders Tavern at the site where Hall's on the River stands today.
DID YOU KNOW ... about the Lion at White Hall? One of the most powerful personalities to ever develop Central Kentucky grew up just a few miles from Hall's on the River. His name was Cassius Clay; not the Olympic boxer who became the internationally famous Muhammad Ali, but his namesake - the "irrepressible" Cassius Clay. He was an emancipationist, defender of Washington D.C., U.S. Minister to Russia, cousin to Kentucky politician Henry Clay, and an expert in duels to the death with a bowie knife. Cassius Clay’s father, Green Clay, did business with Captain John Holder (Hall's On the River’s originator). A strong man himself, Green Clay’s reputation was eclipsed by his youngest son Cassius. Clay served in the Mexican-American War and provided a land grant to John G. Fee to found Berea College - the first racially integrated college in the United States. Because of his strong personality and fighting spirit, he became known as the “Lion of White Hall”. Clay’s Bluegrass home, White Hall, is a short drive from Halls on the River. Today, White Hall is preserved as a Kentucky Historic Site and a fourteen acre State Park.
DID YOU KNOW? ... built by some of the earliest settlers in the region and scattered across the Bluegrass, lie long lines of historic Rock Fences. The earliest pioneers, who held great interest in agriculture, would often discover limestone rock while plowing their fields. This limestone found during this cultivation would constitute much of the rock used for the fence construction. The fences were originally built by Scot-Irish immigrants who brought with them a great understanding of “dry stone” masonry - meaning the construction of stones with the exclusion of mortar in the process. In more specific terms, there is a slight difference in rock fences compared to stone fences. Rock fences are primarily constructed with rocks that have been gathered from fields and creek bottoms, while stone fences are constructed with rock materials that have been shaped, quarried, or dressed by human hands. The majority of the historic fences in Kentucky are Rock Fences rather than stone. It wasn’t until the 1800s that quarried rock fences took off as the most common fencing type used by early farmers for their livestock and additional agricultural needs. In addition, some of these rock fences even border the turnpikes of The Commonwealth. These historic Rock Fences can be seen throughout the region, be sure to keep an eye out for one on your way down to Hall’s
DID YOU KNOW? ... just a few miles from Hall’s on the River sits the original location of Boonesborough Ferry Landing. This ferry made its debut in 1779 when Richard Callaway, famous frontiersman and devout follower of Daniel Boone, received permission for its operation. Alongside Callaway’s assistance in founding the first Kentucky town, Boonesborough, this ferry became the first chartered ferry in the State of Kentucky. However, as he was lending a hand in building the boat, Callaway was attacked and killed by local Indians. Though it is unknown who actually set the first ferry afloat, the rights were eventually sold to a man by the name of John Sidebottom. The ferry operated under its new owners until the building of the highway bridge in 1931.
DID YOU KNOW? ... constructed and manned by African American members of the Union Army in 1863, the Civil War Fort at Boonesborough served as a defense from Confederate raiders in order to protect the most beneficial fords and ferries that were scattered to the south and east of Lexington. The Fort, at the time, was built as an earthwork which was fortified by sharpened logs and branches, known as an “abatis”. This structure also enclosed a blockhouse, which was used as an observation point for the surrounding area. Eventually, the land was purchased by the Nickels family and soon re-purchased by the Winchester, Kentucky Tourism Commission. The fort reopened to the public after its new purchase and became a part of the Kentucky Civil War Heritage Trail in 2005. The Fort is located just upriver from Hall’s Restaurant.
DID YOU KNOW? ... originally believed to be a French dish, Frog Legs are a historical plate dating their appearance back to nearly 10,000 years ago, long before the French grew interest. The eating of Frog Legs spread throughout many regions, first being common in southern China during the first century AD. Eventually, the Aztecs took up the dish, followed the English and French. In Britain, who were often disgusted by Frog Legs, considered this dish a delicacy for a short period when a French chef by the name of Auguste Escoffier served his dish known as Cuisses de Nymphe a l’Aurore (“Thighs of the dawn Nymphs”) at the Savoy hotel in 1908. The favor among Britain died out quick, yet other countries maintained interest. Many have compared these legs to popular meats such as white-meat chicken and sometimes fish. In America, Frog Legs can primarily be found in The South and are even served crispy fried at Hall’s! Be sure to try our take on this unique dish next time you visit!
DID YOU KNOW? ... in 1775, the hemp crop made its first appearance on Clarks Run Creek, located near Danville, KY. Because this crop was not native to Kentucky at the time, it had to be imported from New England and other European countries. The fiber from the hemp crop was originally used for homespun items such as twine, rope, thread and textiles. Hemp's popularity began to grow dramatically between 1790 and 1800 when settlements began to evolve into more organized enterprises. During the early 1800s, Kentucky was considered a leader in the production and exportation of hemp and began to manufacture products from it. With a great amount of seed, came large amounts of fiber which was then spun into rope at locations known as “ROPEWALKS”. These areas were outdoor spaces where hemp fibers were spun in order to make this sturdy rope. By 1809, Kentucky was producing bailing materials for the entire South. Mills on Lower Howards Creek, located near Hall's on the River, were associated with the hemp rope production and shipped their products out of Holder’s Station to downriver. The growth of hemp in the U.S. during the 19th Century dwindled with the availability of cheaper imported fibers from Manila and the East India Company. During War II, however, the Japanese took possession of the Philippines and the East India Company, and since jute supply from India was also restricted, the Americans had to produce hemp once again, for industrial purposes as well as to sustain the vast demand from the US Army and Navy. Rope made from hemp was used in rigging, towing and mooring the ships, paratroopers needed webbing for their parachutes and the hemp fiber was even used to make shoes for the soldiers.
DID YOU KNOW? ... back in the late eighteenth century (just down from Hall's on the River), operated the Hieronymus Warehouse and Ferry. Located on the land of Henry Hieronymus, this warehouse was established in 1808 by the Kentucky General Assembly for the purpose of inspecting goods (mainly flour, tobacco, hemp and bourbon) destined for shipment by flatboat downriver to markets in New Orleans. Kentucky Bourbon and Bourbon Street have had quite a unique relationship going back to the 1700’s.
DID YOU KNOW? ... Homer C. Ledford was an instrument maker and a Kentucky musician. Though he was born in Alpine, Tennessee, Ledford’s musical path eventually led him to The Bluegrass with an attendance to Berea College and later Eastern Kentucky University. Ledford worked as a high school industrial arts teacher at George Rogers Clark High School here in Winchester, Kentucky before becoming a full-time instrument maker. His handmade instruments were well sought after, this included banjos, guitars, dulcimers, mandolins and ukuleles. He is also responsible for the invention of the dulcitar, a three-stringed guitar and dulcimer hybrid, soon followed by other stringed instruments; the dulcijo and dulcibro. In his lifetime, Ledford made approximately 5,776 dulcimers and 475 banjos, devoting his musical and crafting talents to the Cabin Creek Band. Following his death in 2006 in Winchester, he served as an inspiration for those of creative interests. Outlived by his four talented children and wife, Colista, his legacy remains undying
DID YOU KNOW? ... back in 1926, a Bluegrass delicacy known as the Hot Brown made its debut in Louisville, Kentucky. Chef Fred K. Schmidt created this dish in hopes of appealing to the more than 1,200 late-night ballroom dancing guests at the Brown Hotel. When the band took their break, all the patrons were seated for a bite to eat - with a limited menu of ham and eggs or club sandwiches. Chef Schmidt wanted to offer the famished hoofers something new and unique to the hotel. He crafted an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and Mornay sauce, topped with pimientos, then baked it bubbly brown under the broiler. According to an executive chef at the Brown Hotel, the original Hot Brown was served with peaches! Be sure to check out Hall’s on the River’s take on the original, with the addition of salty country ham, cheddar cheese, and a slice of red ripe tomato.
Iroquois Hunt Club
Did you know? ... Halls on the river sits on the southern edge of the vast miles of land belonging to the Iroquois Hunt Country. Established in 1880 and headquartered in Grimes Mill, the Iroquois Hunt Club is the third oldest organized Hunt in the U.S. The land it sits upon is one of the largest, uninterrupted hunt countries in the Eastern slice of the United States. Led by a group of driven hounds, both men and woman ride horseback through thickets and forests alike in search of creatures such as the native red fox or grey-coated coyote. Those upon the horses are known as the field and are led by the Master of the Foxhounds. The hounds, however, are managed by the huntsman. The “Riding of the Hounds”, otherwise known as fox hunting, originated in 16th century England and quickly became a favorite activity for the newly settled colonists in Virginia (which Kentucky was a part of at the time), Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The first settlers in Kentucky brought hounds to Fort Boonesborough to partake in this unique activity just across the river from Hall's.
DID YOU KNOW? ... Born on February 22nd, 1730 to a prominent family, John Howard was a leading adventurer in Kentucky’s earliest years. He showed his interest in two land claims during his travel to western country Kentucky in 1775, both of which were located at the mouth of Kentucky River tributaries. These sites later became known as Upper and Lower Howard’s Creek around 1779, lying in opposite directions from Fort Boonesborough. He played a major role in the settlement of a 1000-acre tract of land known today as Clark County. It was here that Captain John Holder began the development of a station, boatyard, and tavern - where Hall's on the River is located today. Howard achieved many goals during his life in Kentucky, he developed a warehouse and ferry at the mouth of Upper Howard’s Creek along with a plantation known as “Howard’s Grove” near Bryan’s station. Aside from Clark County, Howard helping in the pioneering of Fayette County as well. John Howard lived a long life, passing away at the age of 103 in 1834. His interests, developments and adventures are what shaped the land we stand on today
DID YOU KNOW ... Ever since its first call to post, Keeneland racecourse has become one of the greatest attractions in the Bluegrass State. It all began after the closing of the Lexington Association Racetrack back in 1933, leaving The Commonwealth with not a single track for racing use. This was not until the property of renowned racehorse trainer, John Oliver 'Jack' Keene, was selected for the building of a new racing spot. He sold this perfectly suited property to the Keeneland Association and in 1936, Keeneland racetrack was born. Under the management of Hal Price Headley and Major Louis Beard, the track became a place meant for both horse lovers and those who sought to have an enjoyable time. To this day, Keeneland is home to some of the greatest thoroughbred horse racing in the world - as well as hosting the largest and most prominent thoroughbred auction house in the industry. Great masses of racing enthusiasts flock to Keeneland's meets every April and October ... always eager to experience one of Kentucky’s great traditions
DID YOU KNOW ... Kentucky Fried Chicken will usually be the first thing someone from another place mentions about our Commonwealth, no matter what part of Kentucky you’re from. However, the face of such a famous fast-food spot isn’t even from Kentucky himself. Harland Sanders was a man from Henryville, Indiana who worked hard to support his family after the loss of his father. Despite being hardworking, he lost 15 jobs and 3 businesses before becoming a chef - due to his quick temper and insubordination. In 1930, the Shell Oil Company rented a service station in Corbin, Kentucky to Sanders for free, in return for a commission on sales. This station is where Sanders started cooking the chicken that is now served at the KFC outlets across the world. The service station was expanded into a motel-kitchen, which burned down during Thanksgiving in 1939. Sanders rebuilt the motel with a 140-seat restaurant, and had finalized his “Secret Recipe” of eleven herbs and spices by the summer of 1940. The business was not only accommodating to its customers, but Sanders cooked up some of the best home-cooked fried chicken using his secret blend of herbs and spices. Sanders was later commissioned as a “Kentucky Colonel” and went on to open many more outlets for his chicken. We now know him as the face of Kentucky Fried Chicken which continues to honor his legacy to this day. Sanders died in 1980, at age 90, from acute leukemia. By the time of his death, there were 6000 KFC restaurants worldwide, with $2 billion worth of sales annually. Today, KFC is the second-largest restaurant chain after McDonald’s, with 24,104 locations across 150 countries, and was valued at $27.9 billion in 2020
DID YOU KNOW ... in the late 1700s, Kentucky was a hotspot for Moonshine production. When Alexander Hamilton suggested a tax be imposed on distilled spirits, the news of this tax did not settle well with the locals. This led to a widespread spark of illegal production and resistance to revenue agents. Surplus grain and corn from the fields couldn’t be sold as a raw good. So, many citizens throughout Kentucky (and even in and around the area where Hall's stands today) began to produce their own moonshine from wildcat stills along the river. One of the most notable distillers in eastern Kentucky was known as “Red Bob”. After escaping capture for thirty years, he was found and killed by Colonel J.W. Colyer while stirring beer in his stillhouse. To this day, moonshining is illegal without a proper license and can lead to many federal charges if discovered.
DID YOU KNOW? ... Stretching 100 miles downriver from Clay’s Ferry to Frankfort, lie the Kentucky River Palisades. This geological feature appeared due to the intense erosion of the Kentucky River millions of years ago, forming 400 to 500 foot cliffs which can be seen towering above the river today. The Palisades are primarily composed of limestone, but at their base, lie exposed rocks that are believed to have been formed 450 million years ago during the Ordovician period. They provide habitat for “near endangered” plant species in The Bluegrass such as Mountain Lover, Svenson’s Wild Rye, and Cleft Phlox, along with many other plants and animal species native to the area. This phenomenon can be seen on the way down to Hall’s and for many miles downstream.
DID YOU KNOW ... one of the earliest roads in Kentucky led from Fort Boonesborough to a prime hunting location known as the Lower Blue Licks, or the Lower Salt Spring where Hall's on the River Restaurant and Tavern is located today? Salt licks attracted buffalo in large numbers and were favored spots for hunters. Licks also provided a valuable source of salt that was critical for preserving meat. In 1775, Kentucky's settlement year, the hunters at Boonesborough discovered the Lower Blue Licks by following a series of connected buffalo traces. The path crossed the river near Boonesborough and went up Lower Howard's Creek in present-day Clark County. There, where Hall's is today, it traverses the Lower Howard's Creek Nature & Heritage Preserve. You can learn more about the history and geography of the Salt Spring Trace, as well as other early roads in the Preserve at the links below.
DID YOU KNOW? ... that the Legend of John’s Swift's Silver is by far one of the most notable tales in Kentucky. A young adventurer, George Munday, had discovered plentiful traces of silver while hunting bear with his fellow adventurers. Munday was soon captured by Indians and the rest of his group were killed. The French, hearing rumors of great treasure, began to arrive in Kentucky in search of the silver. In 1775, the French (alongside the Indians), battled against the British and the American backwoodsmen over the movement westward. George Munday fought alongside the French, and although they were victorious, he was held captive by Washington’s men. It was in his captivity where he met the English sailor, John Swift. They began to journey together and Munday shared his tales of Kentucky’s silver. Over eight years in Kentucky the men collected roughly $300,000 worth of silver - that would be over $30 MILLION today! This was such a great amount of that the men were unable to carry it all and decided to bury most of their findings. What became of the crew afterwards remains a mystery. It is said that John Swift departed to sea and returned to discover his comrades had been killed by Indians. Another tale says that John Swift’s greed got the better of him and he was the one to kill his partners. To this day the location of the treasure and the truth of the men’s demise remains unknown. Maps of the treasure route have also become more scarce. The only hint we were given by Swift was; “It is near a ‘peculiar rock.’ Boys, don’t never quit hunting fer it …” So, the next time you are dining on the deck at Halls, always be on the lookout for a “peculiar” rock!