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Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park, Jessamine County Fiscal Court, Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund purchased 58 of 385 total acres.

Camp Nelson, located in the rolling hills of central Kentucky near the palisades along the Kentucky River to the south and west and Hickman Creek on the east, was founded in June 1863 when the Union held most of Kentucky. It became an enormous base of operations for the Union Army and was located on more than 4,000 acres with more than 300 buildings. It became a major quartermaster depot, recruitment and training center, and hospital. It was the third largest recruiting, mustering and training center for African American troops in the nation. All the buildings and structures, except the Oliver Perry house, were dismantled and sold after the base was closed. Several historic sites are located in the park including Fort Jones which was a redoubt or an enclosed fort built to protect a position from all sides and the 10’ tall earthen embankments still remains in addition to two stone small stone forts that were used to defend the Hickman valley and were made on the edge of the cliff. This portion of the park includes a small part of Kentucky River palisades and provides habitat for the state special concern Svenson’s wild rye, cliff-melic grass, and federally endangered gray bats. The forests along the palisades are young and have serious issues with invasive plants. The riparian forests along the river and creek are dominated by boxelder, sycamore, white elm, green ash walnut, hackberry, and Ohio buckeye with silky dogwood, spicebush, and witchhazel in the understory. Typical herbs include wild rye grasses, wood nettle, violets and white snakeroot. The moist forests on the lower slopes are dominated by sugar maple but a variety of other species also occur in the canopy including Ohio and yellow buckeye, American basswood, black walnut, hackberry, blue and white ash, northern red, shumard, and chinquapin oak.  The understory is dominated by spicebush and bladdernut.  The dry upland forests are dominated by blue ash, chinquapin and Shumard oak, red cedar, sugar maple, buckeye, and rock elm. More than 352 plant species, 9 mammal, 15 amphibian, 16 reptile, and 91 bird species have been observed. There is also a nature center and convention facility that is a double pen log house built prior to 1825 with a modern addition that can handle up to 75 people.

In 2018 this land was transferred to the National Park Service from Jessamine County Fiscal Court.


 Developed trails are open dawn to dusk to foot traffic only and pets must be on a leash.  Take US 27 south of Nicholasville 6 miles just past the turn off to Kentucky Highway 1268 (Sugar Creek Pike). Turn onto original Danville Pike to the entrance which is approximately one mile north of the national cemetery on US 27.

Access Type: Open to Public
County: Jessamine
Region: Bluegrass Region
Size: 385
Owner: National Park Service
National Park Service under a KHLCF easement
Purchased with Assistance of:
Lat: 37.795104
Long: -84.594263
Image of Terrapin Creek

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