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Simple Life from another TimeCorn Shocks Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill 1-10-5-15

            The well-muscled blacksmith lifted the leg of the massive workhorse.  He was "shoeing" the horse the old fashioned way: brute strength.  I am not so sure there is another way, it's just that I am not accustomed to seeing the procedure.  This wasn't the only uncommon sight.  I saw a team of oxen yoked for a day's labor in the field.  I watched a young lamb nursing at its mother's side.  I was in the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky.  It was a step back in time, to a simple time, when work was central to life.  Craftsmanship was a top priority.  Quality took precedence over quantity. Utility was the mark of good design.  Dedication to work and a job well-done were seen as part of one's dedication to God.The Wash House, Shaker Village of Pleasant hill, Kentucky 1-10-4-14

            "Shakers" is the name for the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing.  The group seceded from the Society of Friends (better known as Quakers).  They were first referred to as the "Shaking Quakers," in reference to their unusual trembling in worship services.  The first Shakers to arrive in America came from England in 1774, when Mother Ann Lee arrived with eight disciples. 

            The Shakers held to the belief that celibacy was more honorable than marriage.  (Which probably played a significant part in the group's demise.)  They held property in common.  The Shakers believed in equality of race and gender long before such enlightened thinking dawned upon the general population (if it ever has).  The Shakers were dedicated to a life of "perfection" and productive labor. Shaker Vallage of Pleasant Hill Kentucky 1-10-4-18

            The first Shaker community was established in New Lebanon, NY in 1787.  Communities then spread north to Maine and west to Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky.  In 1826 there were 18 Shaker communities spread through eight states.  Resulting from their dedication to work, cooperation with one another, and ingenuity, Shaker communities thrived economically.Oxen yoked for work, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill Kentucky 1-10-5-20

            The Shakers are credited with many inventions, among them are the clothespin, screw propeller, water-repellent fabric, the flat broom, and the circular saw.  They maintained orderly, prosperous farms.  They became known for their simple, well-made furniture.  Theirs was a distinctive style in handicrafts, furniture, and architecture.

            The Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill was established in 1805.  The original community encompassed 4,000 acres and at its height (in the 1840's) had around 500 members.  Declining numbers and changing conditions left only a few members, and the Village was closed in 1910.  Pleasant Hill then became a small farm community.  In 1961 a non profit group was formed to preserve the heritage of Pleasant Hill.Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill Kentucky 1-10-5-4

            Today the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is a National Historic Landmark--and the largest historic community of its kind, covering 2,800 acres, featuring 34 original 19th century buildings.  All visitor services are conducted in those restored original buildings.  The blacksmith I described at the beginning is one of the many local residents in complete Shaker garb which act as tour guides and interpreters.  These folks use Shaker tools to demonstrate Shaker skills and crafts.  One may choose to go on a self-guided tour or a guided group tour.  The Village looks as if it were lifted from the 1840's (except for  the visitors roaming around).  Crops and livestock are grown.  Oxen are yoked for work.  Horses are hitched to carriages.  The wash house is open for viewing.  (A Shaker version of the modern Laundromat?)  One may meander along the miles of rock fence that took thousands of work-hours to build.  Visit the Center House and see a display of Shaker furniture.Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky 1-10-6-19

            One may choose to stay in the available Village accommodations.  There are 81 guest rooms available.  These are furnished with Shaker reproductions and really bring a sense of authenticity to the experience of staying in a Shaker village (with the exception of being outfitted with such modern conveniences as the television, private baths, and air conditioning).  One may sample food made from Shaker recipes in the Trustee's Office (other menu items are available).  The Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill transports one to a bygone era.  It is worth a visit by anyone interested in history, craftsmanship, or the religious aspect.  


If You Go:


Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

3501 Lexington Road

Harrodsburg, KY 40330

Phone   800-734-5611



Kentucky Department of Tourism

Capital Plaza Tower 22nd Floor

500 Mero Street

Frankfort, KY 40601\

Phone:  1-800-225-8747




Center House, Shaker   Village of Pleasant Hill ,  Kentucky 1-10-5-2   Shaker  Village of  Pleasant Hill,  Kentucky,   USA, horse sunning itself 1-10-6-14  
Shaker  Village of  Pleasant Hill,  Kentucky,   USA, yoked ox and harnessed horse 1-10-5-19   Corn Shocks, Shaker   Village of Pleasant Hill,  Kentucky,  USA  1-10-5-11
Shaker  Village of  Pleasant Hill,  Kentucky,   USA, calves and sheep 1-10-6-3    Shaker  Village of  Pleasant Hill,  Kentucky,   USA 1-10-7-10

Text and Photos Copyright Thomas R. Fletcher / PROSE AND PHOTOS

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