Kentucky Historical Society honored “Forgotten Spirits: Paducah’s Contributions to Bourbon,” a walking tour in downtown Paducah that shares the city’s bourbon-related history, at its annual award ceremony last weekend.
Atomic City Tours’ ”Forgotten Spirits” tour received one of KHS’s three Education Awards for Public Programming.
Richard and Emily Parker, the husband-and-wife duo behind Atomic City Tours, accepted their award at KHS’s Annual Award Ceremony in Frankfort on June 4.
“The Kentucky Historical Society tries to recognize really rigorous historical projects in the state, so we were more than happy to be a part of it,” Richard Parker said.
The idea of the “Forgotten Sprits” tour was formed while Richard Parker, a local historian, was researching Isaac Wolfe Bernheim, who founded the bourbon brand I.W. Harper in Paducah in the 1870s, for his book “Wicked Western Kentucky,” which was published in January and is now available for purchase.
“It’s definitely a part of history that most people just aren’t aware of, and with the big boom in the bourbon industry right now, it’s been good to show people Paducah’s contribution to bourbon,” Parker said.
The walking tours kicked off last summer, with the Parkers leading groups around downtown and near the riverfront to share Paducah’s significance in distilling and transporting bourbon throughout the region.
Emily Parker said the tours attracted a lot of interest, and said each of the seven “Forgotten Spirits” tours in 2021 were sold out.
KHS also awarded the Publication Award for a university press publication to Muhlenberg County-based author George G. Humphreys for his book “The Fall of Kentucky’s Rock: Western Kentucky Democratic Politics Since the New Deal,” which covers the history behind political party shift in western Kentucky.
Since establishing the “Forgotten Spirits” walking tour, Atomic City Tours has also added two more tours: “Wicked Paducah,” a walking tour that explores some of the darker, more scandalous history of Paducah, and “Bottling Coca-Cola,” a trolley tour exploring the life of Luther F. Carson and his Coca-Cola bottling business in Paducah.
The next “Forgotten Spirits” tour, which starts and ends at Barrel and Bond, is on Friday at 7 p.m. Future “Forgotten Spirits” tours will be held on July 8, Aug. 12 and Sept. 16. Tickets can be purchased at atomiccitytoursky.com.
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