London; World Chicken Festival, Honey Buns, Wilderness Trails, & the Angel of Death in the Cycling Capital of Kentucky

One thing about Kentucky folks, they love fried chicken.
The relationship between its fame and its followers has perpetuated a self-fulfilling prophecy over the century, keeping the dream alive.
In my Corbin blog, I mentioned that it is home to the original / first Kentucky Fried Chicken location & Museum and Sanders Park, and I wrote about my distant relation to the Colonel.
What I did not know until about ten minutes ago is that he also helped his nephew Lee Cummings create Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken.
London is also the home of the Honey Bun, and I have to wonder why there is not any sort of delicacy in the area that combines fried chicken and honey buns. Are locals eating that, and just not telling us? Are you?
World Chicken Festival
London is just 20 minutes away from the Corbin KFC mecca and has earned its own cluck cred for hosting the annual World Chicken Festival.
Each September, people come in from all around the globe for the Colonel Sanders look-alike contest, beard and mullet contests, trivia, “Chick-a-lympics” and other games, karaoke, live music, and to gather around the world’s largest stainless steel skillet.
Civil War
London is also a rich resource for Civil War history, memorabilia, and reenactments.
Levi Jackson Wilderness Road Park
London was established in 1826 and is the county seat of Laurel County.
Visit the Levi Jackson Wilderness Road Park to catch a glimpse of what life was like back then by touring the Mountain Life Museum inside the park.
This outdoor museum holds original buildings of the early settlers of the area that were relocated here, as well as replicas.
Pioneer Levi Jackson married Rebecca Freeman, whose family owned and farmed on this property. The couple eventually inherited it, and in 1931 their descendants donated over 300 acres to develop this park that has since expanded to nearly 900 acres.
In 2019, the name was changed from Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park to Levi Jackson Wilderness Road Park, to mark the occasion of it becoming owned and operated by the City of London rather than Kentucky State.
You can visit the Jackson family cemetery on Old Wilderness Road and his wife Rebecca Freeman’s family cemetery down the way.
There is also a general store, campgrounds, event shelters, museum exhibitions, a gift shop, clubhouse, golfing range, swimming pool, amphitheater, and a Treetop Adventure course on site.


McHargue’s Mill is one of many projects and amenities that were built by Civilian Conservation Corps recruits in the mid-1930s. This is one of the old cabins found on the donated acres that the CCC restored.


You will likely notice this first when you enter the park, before the road forks to either the museum or other amenities. The path leading to McHargue’s Mill is lined with original millstones; the largest collection of them in the world, actually.


The path leads along a sparkling green creek and it is a great spot for birdwatching.


Boone Trace & Wilderness Road
This part of Kentucky is a major crossroads for some historically significant roads. Interstate 75 runs from Tennessee through Corbin, to London, and continues north.
The Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail, aka the Warriors Path, was the first route over Cumberland Gap. Then came Boone Trace and  Wilderness Road. The two are often confused because they follow similar routes, parallel to I-75. I am certainly confused.
Boone Trace runs from Kingsport, TN to Cumberland Gap,  then north to Fort Boonesborough State Park. It was blazed by Daniel Boone and his crew over part of the old Skaggs Trace. Boone Trace also connects Corbin to London.

Wilderness Road is also known as “Virginia’s Heritage Migration Route” and starts or splits off from north of Cumberland Gap in Mt. Vernon and heads west up to Louisville.
The Daniel Boone Heritage Trail runs from Cumberland Gap to Fort Boonesborough, then West to Louisville.
I’m still working out the exact details of each route and will soon write a full blog dedicated to them once I hammer it all out. If you can provide some clarity or just want to call me out for being ignernt, drop me a line.
Cycling Capital of Kentucky
London is the Cycling Capital of Kentucky and hosts the Redbud Ride each year since 2006.
More than 1,000 cyclists come from around the world to participate in one of four scheduled routes that vary in duration, difficulty, and scenery. The day starts and ends with live music and entertainment at the event’s Block Party. has an extensive list about the biking and hiking trails in and around London that you can read here.
Other outdoor destinations in/near London include the Daniel Boone National Forest and Cumberland Falls.

Downtown London is situated along Main Street and congregates around its intersection of 4th Street. It has dozens of impressive buildings with white pillars and marble but not much as far as daytime entertainment. When I asked two different local women how they would spend a day off in London, they had no idea. 
It is pretty, but I was not able to pick up a distinct flavour of the town. 


Luckily they have a fantastic farm-to-table restaurant called Local Honey,  and their food is delicious.


Local Honey is super cozy with just enough glitz and vintage décor to create an elegant ambiance.


As the waitress handed me the brunch menu, she told me the special for the day was smoked salmon Eggs Benny, so I handed the menu back to her. This is my favourite brunch dish.


It was everything I had hoped it would be, and the béchamel is on point. Several people told me I had to try their famous gravy, so I got some for the seasoned home fries. So good.


I had been looking forward to visiting Sacred Grounds Coffee and The Grind, but neither were open. I left and came back again later, and both times found myself among a crowd outside doing the “wtf hands” and shrugging at each other because they did not know what was going on either.

I will try again next time when we return to visit the Abbey Restaurant and Serial Grillers.


Marymount Hospital
My work friends and I had been talking about the creepy story of the Angel of the Death serial killer at the old Marymount Hospital in London, where a staff medic named Donald Harvey was murdering patients. Harvey moved on to Cincinnati where he killed more patients and other people he met, eventually around 90 in total.

I found the photo with text below just as it is on the Google. I do not take credit for or own any rights to it at all.


Harvey was beaten to death in prison a few years ago. The old hospital was at 310 E 9th Street but was demolished in 2012. There are so many conspiracy theories about why the building is 100% demolished and gone but the line still rings when you call the Marymont phone number at 606-878-6520.

One might think they would have a recording advising that the hospital is defunct and to dial another number, but no. There is a brief noise that sounds like a cross between someone screaming and a leaking oxygen hose. I made my whole dentist office listen to it while they were working on me, and we compared it to the sound of their air hose.

I am certain that this is just some kooky thing someone pays for in order to keep people interested in the story because, of course, I drove by the old site.


In the area for a while? Follow me to Corbin and Williamsburg.

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2 thoughts on “London; World Chicken Festival, Honey Buns, Wilderness Trails, & the Angel of Death in the Cycling Capital of Kentucky

  1. Pingback: Williamsburg, Kentucky; Go Ahead and Stop In for a Bit | Fernweh

  2. Pingback: Corbin; Colonel Sanders, Kentucky Fried Chicken, & Niagara Falls of the South | Fernweh

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