The Kentucky Turnpike was built from Louisville south 40 miles to Elizabethtown to avoid traffic congestion on US 31 W. It was built as part of the Kentucky Parkway System as a toll road. When it was completed in 1956 it was a state of the art highway with two island service plazas, one located just south of Lebanon Junction and one just north of Shepherdsville. My late mother had told me that people would take weekend day trips out of Louisville to the Shepherdsville service plaza where they would dine at the Glasshouse restaurant. Also located at the Shepherdsville plaza were a Kentucky Welcome Center and a DOT transportation headquarters. There was a large toll plaza under the Shepherdsville exit and another large toll plaza located at the beginning of the Turnpike in Elizabethtown. My own memories of this highway are of the large Kentucky Turnpike sign across the roadway in Elizabethtown as you entered the toll plaza and the many stops that we would make to the service plazas to get a bite to eat. I also remember the unmanned 10-cent toll machines on the northbound ramps of Fern Valley Road. One odd memory that I have is of the large round community sink that was located in the restrooms of the service plazas.
The interstate system took over the highway in the early 70’s and extended it south to Nashville. The highway gradually fell into disrepair. Operations of the service plaza restaurants were taken over by the Jerry’s restaurant chain in the late 70’s. The tollbooths were removed in 1975. In 1982 the Interstate highway system started a rebuilding program to bring the highway up to interstate standards. The service plazas were removed and the lanes were expanded to 6 lanes. Also the ramps were improved for better flow. Because I travel this highway daily I am glad for all the improvements, but today it is just a strip of highway in the national interstate highway system. Sometimes I miss the grand highway that was the old KY Turnpike.
I have tried to find as much history as I can about this section of roadway but there are very little records about the old roadway. I would welcome any historical facts or any memories that you might have. This is a bit of history that I would hate to lose.
The Welcome Center that is here now is a far cry from the one that was located in the old service plaza, but there is plenty of useful information available.
The cache vitamin bottle.
This cache placed and maintained by a member of Heartland Geocachers, GEOCKY and InKy