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Explore the history behind Louisville’s Daniel Boone statue

The American frontiersman Daniel Boone looms large in Kentucky history, just as his statue looms large at the entrance to Cherokee Park.

A spring-time view of the Daniel Boone statue in Cherokee park surrounded by greenery

The statue in Cherokee Park has weathered tornadoes, thunderstorms, falling trees, and heavy rain since 1906.

Photo by Carol M. Highsmith via the Library of Congress

If you’ve ever enjoyed a hike or bike in Cherokee Park, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the 9-ft-tall statue of Daniel Boone that adorns the roundabout intersection of Eastern Parkway and Cherokee Road.

Today is Daniel Boone Day, marking the first time the explorer set foot in what would become Kentucky in 1769. “Boone Day” has been recognized by the Kentucky Historical Society for more than a century. So we’re taking a look at the historical figure through the lens of his bronze statue.

Daniel Boone didn’t live in Kentucky for his whole life, but his role in the commonwealth’s early history made him a fixture. In 1893, The Filson Club — now the Filson Historical Society — commissioned Louisville sculptor Enid Bland Yandell to create a statue of Boone for that year’s Chicago World’s Fair.

A black and white photo of an old car in front of the daniel boone statue in cherokee park

The Daniel Boone statue originally sat on a stack of large stones, as seen in this image from 1920.

Photo courtesy ASC, UofL

Yandell used the frontiersman’s real hunting shirt and rifle to create the plaster cast, which was toured around the US for years before it was finally cast in bronze in 1906. It was placed in Cherokee Park that same year, and it has been welcoming visitors ever since. That’s not Yandell’s only piece in Cherokee Park either — she also designed the statue of Pan on Hogan’s Fountain.

Fun fact: In 1784, Kentucky historian John Filson wrote a romanticized version of Boone’s life in his book “Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke.” The book was incredibly popular in the early US and put Boone on the international stage when it was translated into French the following year.

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