Shepherdsville History

Shepherdsville is famous for the production of salt. Although salt was being produced in a few places around the state, there was not enough furnaces or wells to support it. There were hundreds of men employed in the actual industry, such as woodchoppers and waggoneers, water drawers, and kettle tenders.


There were many others involved, including hunters, storekeepers and coopers as well as carpenters. Merchants, traders, and private individuals came from all parts of the wilderness to purchase the salt. Salt was transported by canoe, flatboat, pack train and flatboat from one end to the other of the wilderness. Bullitt Lick must have assumed the appearance of a boomtown --a stunning sight for the hunters from the deep woods, and the settlers from the isolated clearings.


Thomas Perkins, Lincoln County's resident writer, wrote on February 27, 1785 that he had only seen one spring of consequence in the district. It was at Bullitt's Lick (a small branch from Salt River). . . According to my best information, 40 gallons will make a bushel salt at this spring. A small mountain is located about a quarter mile from the spring. It is approximately 30 to 35 feet high. Perkins stated that salt is sold at $3.00 per bushel. These furnaces were made of long trenches that ran along the bank's top.


The furnaces were covered with slate approximately 15 inches thick and laid with mortar of clay. They held 22 gallons each. The kettles were placed in rows on top of the trench with up to fifty per string. The furnace was lit from the front, with the smoke and flames being drawn under the kettles to the end. They were generally protected from the elements with a shed roof that was supported by poles.


Two of these narrow furnace pits could be covered by one roof. After boiling the water for twenty-four hours it was transferred to a cooler--a pit, which served as a sort of settling tank. The clear, saturated brine was then drained into another kettle and boiled until it became grainy. Sometimes, blood was added to the water to purify it or to make the white of an eggs.



Paroquet Springs was a popular mineral water spa in Kentucky and the southern states. It was believed that the water had medicinal properties that could treat a wide range of ailments. Shepherdsville was a popular destination for this season, which typically ran from June to August. They would then drink the mineral water and take a dip in it. In 1838, 20 acres of land were opened to provide accommodation for 200 people.


The grounds were developed over time and could accommodate more people. Paroquet suffered from the Civil War, which resulted in a decrease in travel. A group of investors from Louisville attempted to revive the springs in 1871. The new hotel was constructed and accommodated up to 800 guests. The hotel was destroyed in an 1879 fire that ended its popularity. Although water was still available until around 1915 and the buildings were still in use for many years after the fires, Paroquet's peak popularity occurred just before the Civil War.



The railroad was involved in the war, transporting troops and equipment along with produce and goods from both Bullitt County and north. Confederate troops often destroyed railroad property, including bridges at Shepherdsville or Lebanon Junction. Many Bullitt County residents fought on both sides. 1900-1910 A new courthouse was built in 1900.


Modern road bridges were built across the Salt River at Shepherdsville, Greenwell Ford. During this time, many smaller bridges were also built. Bullitt County, Shepherdsville and the surrounding area remained primarily agricultural from 1900 to 1950. Its population was roughly the same, and there was little economic development.



The Kentucky Tournpike which runs from Louisville to Elizabethtown, was built in the 1950's. The modern 4-lane, limited-access turnpike was constructed in 1950. A Shepherdsville interchange was available with a toll booth and a full interchange. Lebanon Junction had a restricted interchange. The road transformed the region.

People in Louisville and Jefferson County moved to Bullitt County because they had faster access to Louisville. Small industry was able to start moving in and new businesses were established. The FEDERAL INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM (FIHS) was created in the 1980's. This system included the Kentucky Turnpike. The county saw new markets and continued economic growth. Three new industrial parks were planned by 2000.



The Paleo-Indians were the first people to settle the land that would be Bullitt County. They arrived in North America around 11,500 to 10,000 years BP. The nomadic lifestyle of these people can be traced back to Eastern or Central Asia. Their remains were found near salt licks and mineral springs that once housed large game like the mammoth and bison.


Native Americans, including the Shawnee, were their descendants. They probably considered this area part of their homeland and valued it as a hunting ground. The Shawnee were encountered by colonists and traders from both France and Britain. European colonization of Americas resulted in competing claims by these nations to land west of Mississippi River and the Appalachians. France lost the Seven Years' War to Great Britain, which was also known as the French and Indian War on its North American front. France took control of the territories it claimed in 1763.


Large herds of bison and other wildlife were attracted to the region for thousands of years, even before the creation of the county. It was home to many Native American tribes, and the longhunter of the 18th century. After the French and Indian War ended in 1773, Governor of Virginia sent Captain Thomas Bullitt, an uncle to Alexander Scott Bullitt, to the region to survey the land for grants. Bullitt's Lake, the most important salt lick in the county, is named for him.


The Lick was the first industry in Kentucky after the Revolutionary War, which led to widespread shortages of salt. This attracted many settlers to the region. The promised land was given to the colonial veterans of the war. Bullitt's Lick was an important saltwork in the region. Its salt was harvested and shipped by flatboat and pack train as far as Illinois to west. Bullitt's Lick was Kentucky's first industry, and it continued to be in production until 1830.


The steamboat and the import of salt made it possible to access cheaper sources. The Wilderness Road was the first stop between Harrodsburg, Ohio and the Falls of the Ohio. It was the first settlement in the area. It was either Brashear's Station, or the Salt River Garrison. This fort was built at Floyd's Fork in 1779.


The American Revolutionary War was the main reason that most of the county was settled. Shepherdsville is named after Adam Shepherd who was a wealthy businessman who bought the land at the Falls of Salt River in 1793. It became the county's seat. The Kentucky General Assembly approved the December 13th 1796 act that created the county of Bullitt from land taken from Jefferson, Nelson, and other counties. The county's northwestern region was expanded to include Jefferson County land in 1811. An eastern portion of the county was donated to Spencer County in 1824. It is enacted by The General Assembly that all the areas of Jefferson and Nelson within the following boundaries shall form one county, and be called Bullitt. " -- Kentucky General Assembly December 13, 1796



Shepherdsville City Flag

The City flag was created by a contest that saw the top entrants win prizes. The City Administrator and Mayor worked together with a flag vendor and the design was submitted to the City Council. The background is white with a maroon circle that contains the words "City Shepherdsville Kentucky". There are stars around these words. The name of the town is shown in shaded text.

The inner white circle contains the black county shape. To symbolize the date of its founding, the number 1793 is written in maroon. A maroon star, which represents the geographic location of Bullitt County, is next to the number. Shepherdsville is home to the Salt River, which is marked with a maroon curved line. To symbolize Shepherdsville's origins, the Buffalo Trail was established in search of salt in the region. Below the river is a buffalo. A flying American Bald Eagle is seen above the county outline. This is to remind us all of our freedoms and to remember those who have sacrificed their lives to preserve them.


Shepherdsville is only a short drive along i65 to Brooks and the popular Group-friendly  restaurant, El Maguey.