FLEMINGSBURG — Through threat of rain, the ‘Bridges and Beyond’ tour in Fleming County succeeded in its goal to show the community’s history.
The Fleming County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism committee hosted a Bridges and Beyond tour of the county’s many historical buildings and sites on Saturday. This tour showed those inside and outside of the community the rich background of the rural county’s history.
The first location on the tour was the Abners Mill Chapel, located right around the Fleming-Nicholas County border. The chapel, according to the members of the tourism committee, who posed as tour guides, was part of a construction job televised on the show Barnwood Builders of which local Johnny Jett is a member of the cast.
Tour guides brought attention to the many stain glass windows in the small, rustic chapel. The windows were originally from an abandoned methodist church in Ewing, Kentucky, and were provided for construction of Abners Mill. The chapel was mentioned to be used for weddings and could hold around 60 people. An offering plate sat at the altar where some attendees felt the need to make contributions.
The tour then left from the chapel, and headed towards the Elizaville Cemetery to the Franklin Sousley Memorial. Dwayne Price, nephew of Sousley, was present to speak about the local hero.
Sousley, a Fleming County native, was a soldier in World War II, and fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima. He is immortalized in the famous photo of the flag raising on the island taken by Joe Rosenthal. Sousley was killed in action shortly after, and was moved to Elizaville to be buried.
Price spoke to the crowd about his family attempting to preserve the history of Sousley, and about how he had a hand in writing the book From Hilltop to Mountaintop, which documented Sousley’s life.
After remembering the fallen, attendees were taken to view the three covered bridges still standing in Fleming County, of which cement it as the covered bridge capitol of the state. The Grange City, Ringos Mill and Goddard bridges were visited, with guides giving historical context of the communities that once existed around them.
Lunch was provided at the Poston one-room schoolhouse near Brownings Orchard by a local business. Tourists were shown the inside of the schoolhouse, much of which is well preserved. Several members of the tour, both attendees and guides, who are Fleming County natives shared their stories of family members who went to the school.
Randy and Shirley Johnson are from Clark County and attended the tour. Shirley Johnson retired from an insurance brokerage company in Lexington in January, while her husband had already been retired. They heard about the tour from social media and decided to add it to their bucket list. Both of them were blown away by the historical sites in the county, with Abners Mill Chapel being what stood out the most to them.
“I think it’s great,” Randy Johnson said. “It’s really nice that a county that believes that much in their county.”
The tour concluded it’s journey through history by having the final stop be at the Fleming County museum, where tourists were able to view a variety of artifacts and photographs of the community.
Assistant Administrator of the Fleming County Chamber of Commerce Melanie Jones, who was one of the tour guides, says she loves showing off Fleming County and that it has a lot to offer.
“One of the best things about the tours, and the reason I love doing them, is because people, local people, tend to forget what they have in their own back door,” Jones said. “So this is an opportunity to remind them and show it off a little and expand.”