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Daniel Boone at Pilot Knob

Pilot Knob view travelling east on the Mountain Parkway
     Traveling east on the the Mountain Parkway one crosses part of what once was the last Shawnee Town ever recorded in Kentucky.  It was called Eskippakithiki and was located on the level plain before the terrain abruptly becomes hilly and rugged.  The first noticeable mountain is the famous Pilot Knob.  It was here that Daniel Boone proclaimed to have first saw the beautiful levels of Kentucky.  Boone was actually looking on the old Shawnee Town location. Boone reported to have made the trek up the mountain on the sixth day of June, 1769.
     Now historians report that Boone never made this trip and discovery without the help of another great pioneer, John Finley.  Old John Finley actually was Boone's guide into the wilderness after Boone's first attempt, two years earlier, ended in dismal failure.  So how is it that John Finley knew so much about the Kentucky wilderness that he could lead Boone?  Well, John Finley had somehow, established a trading store in the very Shawnee town.  He carried on a good trading business with the residents of Eskippakithiki until he and the entire village was burned and destroyed in 1754.  I actually wrote an article on the subject in the former "Kentucky Parks" magazine.

     The interesting thing here is that Boone was in Kentucky in 1769 and according various "Swift" journals, John Swift claimed to have made his last visit to mine silver in 1769.  Actually, within a month of each other.  This has always been a puzzle to me and most who have studied the legend are aware of this strange confluence of events.
     Just imagine what the Shawnee Town would have looked like to Finley when he first saw it.  It must have been a sight to see spread out along the flat plain that actually marks the very eastern edge of the so-called Cincinnati Arch, a geological configuration that actually produces the Bluegrass region.
     With all this in mind, I would like to offer you a small excerpt from the book, Swift.  This is the first time Finley sees Shawnee Town (Eskippakithitki.)


            The site of the Shawnee town shocked John Finley as they crossed over a low hill and the entire levels of the town came into full view. They had already greeted others along the path coming out from the town and observed other small parties of five and six hunters moving out in various directions. As they made their way into the village some took notice but seemed apathetic to the arrival of the group containing two white men. The people of the village assumed the warriors would not have brought trouble to their town.
Eskippakithiki positioned on a level plain near the foot hills of the last remnants of the mountains located to the east. The village appeared a scattering of long bark houses, the kind of permanent house most southeastern tribes built. Several poles were set in a general rectangular -shape, stockade style. Smaller, flexible rafter poles arched  across the top of the structure as roof supports. Mud, moss, leaves, dry grass and bark was mixed in random fashion to cover the entire structure. Despite the unusual materials, the long bark houses provided water tight housing. Numerous cooking fires scattered about the camp sent straight columns of smoke into the blue cloudless sky. Surrounding the village flat fields of green grasses and crops being cultivated by the Shawnee made the whole scene welcoming. At least one notable stream meandered nearby supplying a continuous fresh water source. A well worn path led from the village, westward to the long hill, then downward to the meandering creek. Women and children traveled at various distances along the path carrying skins and pots of water to their various homes in the town. Hunting seemed good in every direction. Bison located  north, south, and west of the town while deer and elk were plentiful east in the mountains. A good source of flint outcropped nearby in the mountainous area. The flint, a precious resource, provided the raw material for practically every tool for everyday life. This group of Shawnee had begun to acquire metal objects including axes and even some now had rifles they obtained from the British.
            John Finley and George Mundy were ignored by their traveling companions as each hunter separated off to their own house and waiting families. The hunters brought back numerous trade items but they never divulged their origins to either John or George. The two strangers moved right though the village and, though were stared at by the inhabitants, they exhibited no hostility. John Finley moved to the eastern edge of the town.  He found a big Burr oak tree in the hot savanna plain well outside of the town at the edge of the woods and adjacent to a well used path. John assumed the path an old bison trail but later would learn it to be the Warrior’s Path. John discarded his heavy pack and set about making a hasty temporary camp. John gathered firewood, built a cooking pit from stones and made ready for his first night’s stay in a big town. George Mundy rested under the shade of the big oak tree, watching John hurry about setting up camp. Some of the Shawnee kids came around just to see the newcomers, the white-skinned new comers.
            “Aren’t you going to lay a camp?” John asked.
            “I will in a little while. Do you know what Eskippakithiki means?” George said, changing the subject.
            “I don’t speak Shawnee, so it’s pretty likely I don’t know what it means,” John replied with a touch of sarcasm.
            “Means a place called Blue Licks. Eskipp means Blue Licks, ak means place and the ithiki
            “A place called Blue Licks,” John chuckled.
            “Yes sir. Funny thing to me too. Back east they call this country out here Kentakee. I think some hunters confused the last part of this town’s name and came up with Kentakee. You take the ‘Ki-thi-ki from the last part of Eskippa and it would be pretty easy for some of them devils to make Kee-taa-kee sound like Ken-ta-kee. It always seemed like it to me anyway.”
            “Well, if nothin’ else, it sure is something to ponder.”    


  1. I just discovered your blog through a link on Unusual Kentucky. You have terrific material and I'm looking forward to reading more. Expect a lot of cross-references from my site,

  2. Thanks for the nice comments. Kentucky has so many interesting things to see and people to meet. And I discovered your terrific site in the process. I will post a link to your site on my next entry.

  3. Very cool blog. If you have ever been to the Clark County Public Library, they were once located in an old church building downtown, before they moved to their present location on South Burns Avenue. Before they relocated, there was a giant painting which hung there, depicting John Finley at Eskippikathiki, meeting with the Shawnee, which apparently helped paved the way for Boone to want to settle this area.

    The painting depicted the pioneers greeting & meeting the Shawnee, in front of a fort-like structure. It hung in the Library's old south main street building from the 1970s until 1998, when it was sold at auction. Apparently some local collector still has the painting, not sure why the library let it go, if they needed the money, or if it was a matter of space, but it was a magnificent painting showing a historical relevant event to this area.

    I'd love to see the painting again but it is now in private hands apparently. It was truly large, about 6 feet by 12 feet or about that..It was done by local artist Jack Kennedy Hodgkin.

    1. What a loss for Clark County since the painting depicts one of the greatest events in Kentucky's amazing history. I never saw the painting but sounds like it was a treasure. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great article Ed. I live in the house on Goffs Corner that was built in 1911 by one of the Goffs as a wedding present to his new bride. On my property near the southeast corner of the house is a shallowed out area. I've been told it was the old buffalo trail, but now I wonder, could it be the warriors path??? Al

  5. Thanks for the nice comment. The buffalo trace and the Warriors Path could very well be one in the same. You certainly live in one of the most important historical sites in all of Kentucky. What a great place to live.There is an article I read once that claimed the Swift mines were around that area.


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