Bullitt County History

1837 Survey of Salt River and Floyd's Fork

From History of Kentucky, by the late Lewis Collins, Judge of the Mason County Court. Revised, Enlarged, Four-fold, and Brought Down to the Year 1874 by his son, Richard H. Collins. Volume I, pages 546-547, we have the following description of a survey made in 1837 of the Salt River and its tributary, Floyd's Fork. The possible locks and dams mentioned, except for one near Shepherdsville used in the iron manufacturing business, apparently never existed.

"The Survey of Salt River and two of its branches, the Beech and Rolling Forks, was made in 1837. From the mouth of Salt river at West Point, Hardin county, to the mouth of the Rolling Fork, 11 1/2 miles, the ascent was 1.2 feet, and the river about 230 feet wide; thence to the foot of Burke's island shoal, 8.7 miles, the ascent was 11.6 feet (a little over 1.4 to the mile), and the width of the river about 150 feet; thence to the head of the Falls, at Shepherdsville, Bullitt county, the distance was nearly 3 (2.9) miles, and the ascent 24.8 (of which 14.4 was included in the Falls); on the Falls, the river was about 500 feet wide; on the next 8 miles, above the Falls, the ascent was but trifling (about 2 1/4 inches), the width of the river gradually narrowing to about 250 feet; thence to the crossing of the Louisville and Bardstown turnpike, nearly 5 3/4 (5.7) miles, the ascent was nearly 8 feet, and the average width of the river about 170 feet; thence to Taylorsville, Spencer county, 18.2 miles the ascent was 45.4 feet, and the river from 100 to 160 feet wide -- with many small islands during the last 23 miles. Four locks and dams -- about 11, 20, 21, and 23 miles from the mouth, respectively -- estimated cost, $282,533, would make Salt river navigable from small steamboats for 37 1/3 miles to the Bardstown turnpike.

"At the Falls of Salt River, at Shepherdsville, the river descends 14 4-10th feet in about 1 3-10ths miles, and in the succeeding 1 6-10ths miles, 10 4-10th feet -- making in all nearly 25 (24.8) feet, in less than 3 miles. It affords a fine site for permanent water power, at comparatively small expense. In 1837, one forge, manufacturing blooms, was in operation, and a rolling-mill in progress of construction; while an iron furnace, 3 miles distant, turned out annually 700 to 800 tons of pig metal and castings.

"On the Rolling Fork, the distance from its mouth at Salt river to the mouth of its Beech fork was 19.9 miles, the ascent 29.6 feet (about 1 1/2 feet to the mile), and the average width about 150 feet. Steamboat navigation to this point could be secured by two locks and dams, in addition to the one just below its mouth, in Salt River."

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The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Saturday appointments are available by calling 502-921-0161 during our regular weekday hours. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 12 Jan 2024 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/saltriversurvey1837.html