On June 1, 1792, Kentucky entered the union as the nation’s 15th state. While Shaker missionaries wouldn’t grace the borders of the Commonwealth for another 13 years, by 1792, one of Kentucky’s future Shaker converts was already living on the tract of land which would eventually serve as the birthplace of the Pleasant Hill community. Elisha Thomas and his family owned “140 acres of land considerably improved on either side of Shawnee Run,” where, in 1806, the first members of what became the Society of Pleasant Hill initially gathered and “opened their minds” to the Shaker faith.
Here, they built the community’s first meeting house, which, despite looking more like a stand than a proper assembly hall, served as the Shakers’ first place of worship. Soon the fledgling group of Shaker converts settled upon a more permanent place to accommodate the needs of their growing community. For more than a century, their new location—just 1.5 miles up the hill to where the Village now stands today—welcomed more than 2,400 Kentuckians, immigrants, wayfarers and settlers from no less than 50 Kentucky counties, 13 countries and 29 states. And today, with a little help from our Trail Map, modern-day guests can see where it all began.
While it’s only about a 1-mile hike from the Centre Trailhead to the geographical genesis of the Pleasant Hill Shakers, in total, the Pelly Trail—the only trail to provide access to the 500 acres of Village property south of US-68—is a 5-mile loop, best suited for hikers and horseback riders. Cyclists are welcome on this moderately difficult trail, but like the other 12 trails on the property, it’s not maintained for mountain biking. This portion of the Village’s 1,200 acres of native prairie can be reached exclusively by traveling through the culvert beneath the highway, so be prepared to get a little wet along the way. 
Two hundred twenty-five years after Kentucky forged its way to statehood, this property continues to serve as a gathering ground for families and individuals like Elisha Thomas and Pleasant Hill’s founding members. Here, we’re charged with the stewardship of this property’s natural and historical assets, which is why every day we’re working to conserve the land, preserve the buildings and provide families and individuals (like you!) access to the rich heritage left for us by the Pleasant Hill Shakers and their early-Kentucky predecessors. From maintaining 37 miles of trails throughout The Preserve to undertaking architectural rehabilitation projects in The Historic Centre, we’re on a mission to inspire generations of trailblazers and pioneering spirits, just like those who spearheaded Kentucky’s path to statehood 225 years ago.
Learn more about Kentucky’s path to statehood and other destinations throughout the Commonwealth at the KY 225 Commission’s website, where all Kentucky travelers are encouraged to share their Kentucky 225 anniversary adventures by using #ky225.
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1 Information obtained from The origins and progress of the Society of Pleasant Hill. Original manuscript held by Harrodsburg Historical Society, Harrodsburg, KY.
2 During times of high water, the culvert on the Pelly Trail may become impassible. All explorers who use The Trails at Shaker Village do so at their own risk and must sign in at the The Inn front desk to sign a property usage waiver before hitting the trails.