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History of Northern KY Program Summaries

Where the River Bends explores several hundred years of Northern Kentucky history, from the time of the first European exploration of the area to the ongoing riverfront renaissance. Following are some notes about the topics covered in each hour-long program.

Program 1: Geography and Early History

  • An overview of the geography of the region, defined by rivers and shaped by glacial action
  • The Paleo, Fort Ancient, Adena, and Hopewell Native American cultures
  • Early French explorers, the saga of Mary Ingles, the French and Indian (Seven Years) War, and separate visits by Lewis and Clark to Big Bone Lick
  • The first settlements, the foundings of Newport and Covington, the War of 1812, and the beginnings of German and Irish immigration
  • The development of transportation industries
  • Slavery, the abolitionist movement, the Underground Railroad
  • Northern Kentucky in the Civil War

Program 2: From Reconstruction Through the Great Depression

  • Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws, and Northern Kentucky’s prominence in Kentucky politics during the post-Civil War years
  • The growth of African-American communities and the influx of new immigrants from Germany, Ireland, and Italy
  • The industrial boom of the late 1800s, including the stories of Barney Kroger, Baron Frederic Emile D’Erlanger, the Stewart Iron Works, Newport Steel, and breweries
  • The election and assassination of William Goebel, the last governor elected from Northern Kentucky
  • Life in the region at the turn of the 20th century, including such diversions as steamboats, Devou Park, Coney Island, Ludlow Lagoon, Latonia Race Track, and Dayton Beach
  • World War I and the anti-German backlash
  • Prohibition, the Great Depression, the coming of bootleggers and organized crime, and the great Ohio River flood of 1937

Program 3: World War II to the Present

  • The WWII years, including another wave of anti-German sentiment and troop trains and pilot training in Northern Kentucky
  • The postwar suburban building boom and immigration from Appalachia and Germany
  • Father Anthony Deye and the civil rights movement
  • How Cincinnati’s new airport ended up in Kentucky
  • The growth of organized crime and attempts to clean up gambling and prostitution in Newport in the late 1950s/early ’60s
  • The construction of I-75 and its effects on area communities
  • Urban renewal and changes in the 1960s, including the inner-city demolition that made room for the IRS regional processing center; the closing of Coney Island; the founding of Northern Kentucky University (as Northern State College); the relocation of Villa Madonna College, now Thomas More College; and the building of the Florence Mall
  • The riverfront business and cultural renaissance of the 1980s and ’90s