David & Karen Bennett
The first stop was Renfro Valley, Kentucky, known as “Kentucky’s Country Music Capital” where I had read in a book by Chet Hines published in 1973, “how to make and play the DULCIMORE” that there were several old dulcimers in the area. Though the book is now quite dated I deduced that the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame , possibly the Renfro Valley Entertainment Center and the nearby Mountain Life Museum at Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park near London KY had dulcimers on display.
Unfortunately, it appeared that we got off to a bad start as the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame wasn’t opening for the season for another week after we were there (they did tell me in an e-mail they did have a couple dulcimer displays) and Renfro Valley Entertainment Center was not open yet either. So we weren’t too surprised to learn the Mountain Life Museum at Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park didn’t open until Memorial Day weekend. The Mountain Life Museum has, in building #4, a “regular” dulcimer donated to them in 1942 and was said to be at least 40 years old then and a double, or courting, dulcimer that was donated to them in 1944.
Luckily the Renfro Valley area was not a complete dulcimer bust for us, but like many things in life sometimes you really have to be persistant, even when things aren’t going your way. Sharing the parking lot with the Renfro Valley Entertainment Center was the BitterSweet Cabin Village . This village has cabins and artifacts dating from the 1700’s to the 1940’s. While we did not see any mountain dulcimers we did see a quick photo of John Jacob Niles and a young lady playing dulcimers in an eight minute video the village plays for guests.
We hope to be back in the Renfro Valley area at the end of May to visit a couple of these museums, so check back later. To see our other stops on this trip click on:
- 2. Boone Tavern, Berea, KY
- 3. Warren May Woodworking Shop, Berea, KY.
- 4. Berea College
- 5. L&N Depot, Berea, KY
- 6. Museum of the Mountain Dulcimer, Hindman, KY
- 7. Appalachian Artisan Center Wood Studio, Hindman, KY
- 8. Hindman Settlement School, Hindman, KY