Scenic USA - Kentucky
Jenny Wiley State Park
|Photos by Amanda Haddox
Amanda Haddox Photography
Just as in this remarkable view over Jenny Wiley State Park, the sun tries its best to brighten the spirits of Prestonsburg every day. Although the tragedy occurred over 50 years ago, the residents of Prestonsburg seems to remain under a veil of grief.
On a cold and cloudy February morning in 1958, a school bus with 48 school students struck a truck on U.S. Route 23 and careened down the embankment of Knotley Hollow and into the rain swollen waters of the Big Sandy River. Sadly, 26 students perished that day.
Jenny Wiley State Park, a wonderful resort park built around Dewey Lake, honors the school bus accident victims with a heart-shaped garden and stone monument. Dedicated 20 years ago, three plaques are displayed at monument, with a cross at the point of the heart.
The park, taking in nearly 3000 acres of Kentucky’s Appalachian topography, is covered in hardwoods which include maple, tulip popular and paw paw trees. Originally called Dewey Lake State Park, the park was renamed to honor Virginia (Jenny) Wiley. Abducted during an Indian raid and losing all her children, Jenny was reunited with her husband after an eleven month ordeal.
Along with picnicking, playgrounds and a swimming pool, the park offers 10 miles of hiking trails, mountain biking paths, camping, canoeing and fishing. During the fall and early spring, elk watching has become a most unique pastime. Reintroduced in the late 1990s, elk populations have thrived in southeastern Kentucky.
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