Welp, mark another weird geo-oddity off the list of ones I’ve been meaning to visit. This past Sunday, yours truly stepped foot in the Kentucky Bend. Just barely…
Not sure what the Kentucky Bend is, well, here’s a wikipedia link for ya. A recent visit was done by one of my favorite bloggers of geographical odds-and-ends, twelvemilecircle. Here is his report from last April. The Bend is pretty exclusive in its weirdness, especially since it’s so isolated. There is no real reason to go to the Bend except if you live there, and only a dozen or so people actually call the place home.
There are similar instances in the U.S. The Northwest Angle is part of Minnesota only accessible through Canada (as is Point Roberts, Washington). Knotts Island is in North Carolina, but one can only get there by ferry in that state (if you stick to the road, you can only enter through Virginia). Alburgh, Vermont used to only be accessible only through Canada, until a bridge was built to connect it to the rest of the state. Michigan’s lost peninsula is a spit of land that is essentially part of Greater Toledo, Ohio, and can only be accessed by road through the Buckeye State. These oddities are generally known as exclaves, defined as land cut off from its own territory and only accessible through other countries or states.
The Bend certainly doesn’t cultivate the same level of tourism that these other places do. There are actually things to do, places to see, eat or stay in all those examples listed above. The Kentucky Bend has none of that. The Kentucky Bend has absolutely no reason to come and visit outside of the fact that this quirky oddity exists for now (and its boundaries will eventually change sometime in the future as the river continues to meander). The only people visiting are people who want to for this reason alone. Weird people with an interest in this stuff, I guess. People like me.
I don’t know what to make of my 5-minute visit to the Bend. It felt…odd. I felt…strange. I actually felt like someone was eyeballing me somewhere. I almost felt like a trespasser. It was uncomfortable. Perhaps that accelerated my visit. There is really nothing to see (other than the state signs and the cemetery) and all else is (presumably) private land. I had actually been shaken up a few minutes prior while visiting the Island No. 10 monument (a famous Civil War battle in which the eponymous island has since disappeared) just a few miles south. Two very aggressive dogs surrounded my car and refused to get out of the way, jumping at my window, then running in front of the car as I tried to drive off. It took me a good 2-3 minutes of maneuvering to shake them. By the time I got to the Bend, I was about ready to leave.
I certainly don’t mean to paint the Bend in a bad light. The few people that live there might be some of the most friendly one would ever meet. But when the attraction of a place is simply found in the oddity of the place and the people who happen to live there, I’d just as soon allow them their privacy. I crossed the border, got to my geo-oddity, and that was enough for me! I’ll go back when it’s connected to Missouri!