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Kenton County Historical Society announces two new markers celebrating 3-L Highway, ancient civilizations

The Kenton County Historical Society will place two new historical markers in Kenton County Sunday.

The first marker’s placement ceremony begins at 1 p.m. at the intersection of Old Madison Pike and Kentucky Route 17, about 1/4 mile south of Waffle House in Ft. Wright.

Parking will be on Old Madison Pike, absolutely no parking will be permitted on the four-lane highway of Kentucky Route 17.

3-L was named in part to celebrate the connection of horseracing tracks in Latonia (pictures), Lexington and Louisville. (Photo from Kenton County Historical Society)

In attendance will be the mayors from Ft Wright and Covington, as well as other local dignitaries. Representatives from the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort will also be present.

A short presentation will be made concerning the history of the 3-L Highway by Robert Webster, former president of the Kenton County Historical Society.

The second ceremony placing the marker commemorating Ancient Civilizations will immediately follow, at approximately 2 p.m., in Pioneer Park (at the south end near the small shelter). Local historian Jeannine Kreinbrink will speak on the significance of this marker.

Since 1949, the Kentucky Historical Marker program has allowed communities across Kentucky to recognize and share the sites, events, and personalities they consider important to local, regional, state, or national history. To date, more than 2,400 markers help to illuminate Kentucky’s complex story. A few years ago, the Kenton County Historical Society decided to make it part of their mission to add to the number of markers found here.

This is not an easy endeavor. Taking a subject from an idea to a finished marker takes time, thought, and the work of many people. Marker applications are only reviewed by the Kentucky Historical Society twice a year, so timing is everything. The marker review committee considers the historical relevance, significance, location, and community support of marker applications.

The Kentucky Historical Society approved the two new markers for Kenton County.

Next came the funding. Through the generosity of the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana and the David J. Reinhardt Family, the Wells Family Trust, Karl Lietzenmayer, Bob Webster, and many other contributors, both markers have now been fully funded and are ready for installation.

The first marker is for the 3-L Highway. This marker is significant to Kentucky history because it commemorates the long and interesting story of one of Northern Kentucky’s most well-known and often-traveled highways. Once known as the Independence Turnpike and now designated KY Hwy 17, this thoroughfare in the 1920s was renamed the 3L (LLL) Highway. Other state roads, including parts of what is now US 60 between Louisville and Lexington, and most of present-day US 27 between Paris and Falmouth, were also given this unique name. LLL was an abbreviated version of the full name of the road, that being the Louisville, Lexington, and Latonia Highway.

The ‘Ancient Civilizations’ marker will be placed at the southern end of Kenton County’s Pioneer Park.

The purpose of the renaming was to show horseracing fans, jockeys, horse owners, and trainers the best route between the state’s three most popular tracks at the time: Churchill Downs in Louisville, the Association Track in Lexington, and the Latonia Racetrack in Latonia, just south of Covington. While only signed as the 3-L (white signs with blue Ls) from around 1920 to about 1936, residents in Northern Kentucky, especially those in Kenton County, affectionately refer to this major thoroughfare as the 3-L still today. In fact, several cities along the route still include the unusual and historic name on their official street signs. The marker is planned to be placed in the grassy field at Old 17 (the original LLL) and KY 17 in Fort Wright.

The second marker is titled “Ancient civilizations.” This marker is significant to Kentucky history because it celebrates the existence of the many ancient civilizations that once roamed, hunted, and lived in the Northern Kentucky region, with particular attention to Kenton County. Native tribes arrived in this region over 12,000 years ago. The geography and plant life here, after the Ice Age, formed a near-perfect location for these tribes to thrive. Thousands of artifacts and evidence of burial mounds, campsites, and actual communities have been unearthed and researched for decades.

Historians must not only document such topics in books and magazines but that make every effort possible to inform the general public of such a tremendously important piece of history. This marker is planned for the southern end of Pioneer Park, the actual location of one of the more important ancient civilization sites unearthed decades ago.

Founded in 1977, the mission of the Kenton County Historical Society is the promotion, preservation, research, and dissemination of Kenton County history and genealogy, especially as it relates to the larger community.

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