Have you ever wondered what the land was like here in Scott County when our ancestors came here to live 200 years ago?
Scott County was mainly a thick, dense forest with huge trees hundreds of years old. The branches were so thick that you could walk miles and never see the sun. Next time you are walking in a state forest or a large wooded area, think about the whole county being just like that. As late as 1958 an Elm tree in Scott County was recorded with circumference of 18 feet and estimated to be 128 ft. in height and approximately 400 years old. Just think about the tremendous task it was for these pioneers to cut down one of these trees with their hand saws.
To live on this land, trees had to be cleared to have a spot to build a home and the logs had to be cut and trimmed for the cabin. Then more of these large trees needed to be cut and land cleared of tree stumps and roots in order to plant crops and gardens if you planned to survive. At least with the dense canopies of the trees offering much more shade, the summers were not quite as hot for the pioneers in their long-sleeve clothing which they wore back then.
You needed to be completely self-sufficient (off the grid, as people would say today). Imagine how many trees had to be cut and cleared before a road was possible between Lexington and Vienna, the first two communities in the county. Just imagine how bumpy that dirt road was riding over ruts and tree roots. I would think it was pretty rough on eggs if you were taking them to trade at the store.
It was an extremely hard task cutting down these trees so no more were cut than was absolutely necessary. Therefore; this county was still heavily forested when the railroads arrived and began to build in the 1850’s. The railroads when completed then offered an opportunity to sell and ship the lumber to other industries; especially to shipyards in Jeffersonville, Madison and New Albany who needed a lot of good lumber for the growing steamboat business.
With a way to ship new products, mills sprang up around the county and the timber industry was born in Scott County and the chapter of Scott County history with the huge magnificent trees began to come to an end.