Darren Doyle, story and photos
When most people think of the Chalybeate community, bowling alleys, resorts, and booming tourists attractions don't often come to mind, but during the 1800's, those things were prevalent in the small, southern area of southern Edmonson County.
The Kentucky Historical Society along with the Edmonson County Historical Society unveiled the new historical marker today in front of a large crowd for both Chalybeate Springs and Chameleon Springs at the junction of KY HWY 101 (Chalybeate Rd) and KY HWY 3611 (old Chalybeate Rd).
EC Historical Society member Jeff Houchins, who helped coordinate the event, was pleased with the large crowd today in spite of the heat and humidity.
"I'm proud that we now have this marker here to remember our ancestors, our heritage, and the area where we came from," he said. Houchins was raised in the community and lives nearby on Chalybeate School Road.
"I feel that we are very fortunate that we grew up right here in Edmonson County," he said as he addressed the crowd. "Especially those of us that grew up around Chalybeate Springs. I know it affected my life, growing up around Mrs Mitchell (Eleanor), Mr. Huffman (Dale), and Doc Gray. It had a great impact on my life."
Several in attendance shared memories and stories from their parents and grandparents of growing up in the Chalybeate area and visiting both Chalybeate and Chameleon Springs Resorts and Hotels.
Dale "Doc" Gray, who lived at Chalybeate Springs for over 40 years with his wife, Sarah, said the area would always be considered home. He became emotional as he shared many memories of the community.
Sarah Gray was also emotional as she shared some of her thoughts on the ceremony. "This is such a special day," she said. "All the wonderful people and memories. This place will always be home."
There were also many funny and light-hearted memories shared.
One attendee who wished to remain anonymous, said bootleggers would stash their beverages in Chameleon Springs (located in Sulfur Hollow) and were able to charge double because the spring always kept them ice cold.
Houchins recognized several people and groups for attending or helping the commemoration come together. Some mentioned were Judge Executive Wil Cannon, County Attorney J.B. Hines, the WKU Folklore Dept, Mag. Joe Durbin, the Chalybeate Homemakers, Reggie and Lisa Jaggers who now own the home on the site of Chalybeate Springs, Creekside Garden and Nursery for use of their ferns, and Byrd Activity Center for the use of chairs at the site.
The Chalybeate Springs Hotel was in operation from the late 1800's until just after WWII. Chameleon Springs Hotel was established in 1804 and is credited as the meeting place where Edmonson County was officially formed and established in 1825.