Sticking the Landing

Billy Rankin, Vice President of Public Programming and Marketing

Back in May, we introduced you to our plans for Shaker Landing. Much has been accomplished on this project since then, and we’re delighted to share this visual progress report. We must also express our gratitude to the Chair of the Shaker Village Board of Trustees, Ann Bakhaus, for her vision, leadership and energy in guiding these transformational efforts.

The 1861 Shaker River Road winds its way along the Kentucky River Palisades and past an overlook of High Bridge, ending at Shaker Landing.

An 1866 Timber Frame Stable greets visitors at the Landing. The only surviving Shaker structure remaining along the river, it was restored this year through the generosity of Lois Mateus and the Tallgrass Farm Foundation, in honor of her late husband, preservationist Tim Peters.

The Dixie Belle, the Village’s paddlewheel riverboat, was retired in 2022 after 40 years of service. Rather than sell or disassemble the boat, the Village elected to restore it and install it at Shaker Landing as a new venue for events. The riverboat will be mounted to four telephone poles, allowing it to float up and down in place when floodwaters rise. The surrounding deck adjoins the riverboat via hinged thresholds, creating a gap to protect the deck from damage from the boat, should it rise and fall with floodwater.

In the coming years the riverboat will play host to live music, dining events, cub scout campouts, school field trips and more. As a compliment to the Landing and Timber Frame Stable, the riverboat offers an exciting new venue for weddings and receptions at Shaker Village.

On October 29, Shaker Village staff, Trustees, donors and supporters gathered to celebrate the updates to Shaker Landing. This will be the first of many Village events on the Kentucky River, bringing energy back to the once vibrant port of the Pleasant Hill Shakers.

If you would like to learn more about hosting your upcoming event, campout or field trip at Shaker Landing, contact our Event Sales team today.

Follow Our Progress

Expect to hear more about the progress of our Long-Range Plan projects on social media, through our emails and on the Shaker Village blog. We hope you follow along!

If you have questions about master site planning at Shaker Village, or if you would like to support our efforts, please reach out to our Vice President of Public Programming & Marketing, Billy Rankin at [email protected] or 859.734.1574.

This is the fourteenth article in an ongoing series outlining long-range planning at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. New to the series? You can visit our previous articles here:

A Night of Terror

Jacob Glover, PhD. Program Manager

“About midnight last night, a band of mounted highway robbers, 6 in number, entered our quiet village, armed to the teeth, & proceeding to the Post Office…” – April 29, 1865

Traditional accounts of the American Civil War often end on April 9, 1865. On that famous date, of course, Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House.

The violence unleashed by the war, however, could not be stopped by a formal surrender. In the months following the war in Kentucky, guerilla bands and outlaws held sway in many areas of the Commonwealth. Although the freedmen and their families were often the targets of these vigilante groups, on other occasions the Shakers at Pleasant Hill drew their attention.

On the night of April 29, 1865, that is exactly what happened. The lengthy journal entry below gives an idea as to the desperate situation in which the Shakers found themselves.

Pictured here, late in his life, J.R. Bryant was in charge of the Village’s finances, and a target of outlaws on the night of April 29, 1865. Bryant raised the alarm at the Centre Family and saved the community a great deal of harm.
Photo c. 1870s.

“April 29, 1865. About midnight last night, a band of mounted highway robbers, 6 in number, entered our quiet village, armed to the teeth, & proceeding to the Post Office… Every apartment in the house was forced open in a vain search for pelf; & being providentially disappointed in their booty, which did not exceed 30 dollars, they sallied forth, & surrounded the brick Office, the leader of the band giving orders to take Bryant the Trustee, dead or alive – to force him to deliver the contents of his coffers – when they demanded entrance, & commenced battering at the front door & smashed in a window, cursing & threatening vengeance. Meantime J. R. Bryant escaped at a back door, leaving M. Burnett & 3 or 4 sisters the only occupants, & gave the alarm at the Center Family, but being discovered by the sentinels, was fired on several times by these foul fiends in human shape, yet, by the protecting hand of God, escaped unhurt.

Looking down the Turnpike, the Post Office is the small building to the left of the large Trustee’s Office. Although the bandits initially forced their way into the Post Office, they later turned their attention to the Trustee’s Office and the person of J.R. Bryant. Photo c. late 1800s.

When some of the brethren arrived at the scene of the action, they were halted & threatened with immediate death by these demons, if they approached. The alarm was then rang which aroused the whole village in a state of excited alarm which so frightened these fiends incarnate, that they fled to their horses & beat a hasty retreat, firing a volley at every moving object & some of the buildings as they went. One ball passed through the side glass of the front door of the Office, & through the sash over the door at the far end of the hall, glancing the ceiling penetrating the dining room door at the extreme end of the porch… No clue to the diabolical traitors.”

Although no one was physically hurt, I can’t help but wonder what must have been going through the minds of the pacifist Shakers during this eventful and terrifying night. Such terror was not representative of life at Pleasant Hill throughout the nineteenth century, but the trying times of the Civil War seem to have left an impression everywhere.