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In 1829 the Kentucky legislature authorized the Maysville, Washington, Paris and Lexington Turnpike Road Company to construct a modern roadway along the route of the old Limestone Road which ran from Maysville, Kentucky, a port on the Ohio River to Lexington, Kentucky, the state capitol. Users would be charged fees for maintenance and paying off the debt to shareholders. The act set aside blocks of shares for purchase by the federal government. Henry Clay, an influential Kentucky politician and proponent of the American System, argued for the Maysville Road and other infrastructure, noting it would be part of a longer road terminating in New Orleans, Louisiana and proper for federal funding.
In 1830, Congress passed a bill authorizing the federal government to purchase shares in the turnpike company. President Andrew Jackson, a bitter rival of Clay, vetoed the bill, arguing that the project was of purely local benefit. The Maysville Road veto was one of Jackson's first acts in aligning the federal government with his principles of Jacksonian democracy.
An attempt to override Jackson's veto failed, but the controversy over the Maysville Road veto continued for some time. However, the turnpike was completed in 1835 with funding from local entities and private investment. It was the first macadamized road in the state. Today it is U.S. Route 68.
- Southwest from Maysville, Kentucky the road followed the former buffalo trace and Native American trail to Lexington, Kentucky. It was called both the Maysville Road and the Limestone Road. It was maintained by the various counties through which it passed with local labor from the county levies. The road was rough and during certain seasons practically impassable.
- To see the route of the old Maysville Turnpike, click here.
- Today the route follows state route 68.
Settlers and Records
European-American settlers' traveling down the Ohio in the 18th century and early 19th century found a natural harbor at Limestone Creek. The buffalo trace, also a well-used trail traveled for centuries by Native Americans, was a natural path into the bluegrass region, extending all the way to Lexington, Kentucky.
Frontiersman Simon Kenton made the first settlement in the area in 1775 but was forced out by the western battles of the American Revolution. Returning in 1784, Kenton built a blockhouse at the site of Maysville and founded Kenton's Station (frontier fort) at a site three miles (5 km) inland.
Kenton met new settlers at Limestone, as the landing place was called, and escorted them inland to his station. In 1786 the village which grew up near Kenton's Station was established by act of the Virginia General Assembly as the town of Washington. By this time John May had acquired the land at Limestone and Daniel Boone established a trading post and tavern there. In 1787 the little settlement was incorporated as Maysville, though the name Limestone persisted well into the 19th century.