The W.C. Handy Blues section of the Scenic Byway actually begins in Union County and travels through Henderson County “Home of W.C. Handy” and site of the W.C. Handy Blues Festival and continues into Owensboro in Daviess County traveling along Highway 56 into Morganfield and then east on Highway 60 following the Ohio River.
Historic marker on Hwy 56, the county named for the fact that it was created in 1811 by the Kentucky General Assembly from portions of Henderson and Webster counties - Union County.
On Hwy 56 for approximately five miles is the Higginson-Henry Wildlife Management Area which is an oasis for birdwatchers. This area, for as far as one can see was once Camp Breckinridge during the Civil War. This 5,424 acre area includes fields of grasses, food plots, second-growth forest, and thickets that support bobwhite, ruffed grouse and wild turkey.
A 25-acre lake attracts northern shoveler, green-winged teal, blue and snow goose, grebes and herons. Marshes and a pond provide food and cover for various aquatic animals and birds such as killdeer and common snipe. One may also see fox squirrels, coyote, red fox and possibly even a gray fox. There is even a one mile self-guided trail, a barrier-free viewing platform overlooking the lake with restrooms, picnic areas and camping at Lake Mauzy. A historic marker along the route tells visitors of Nally’s Spa which was once a retreat area. Also watch for the sings to the Nelson Wildlife Center which is set back in the woods along a gravel road.
Near the junction of Hwy 983 is the McElroy Farm and on the left, a birdwatching trail. On Hwy 56, one passes by Moffitt Lake and a scenic farm with grain bins. An oil well and pump on the side of the road reminds the traveler of times past. A lake access road, shooting range, horseback riding trails and a graveyard are visible from the road.
One will also pass by a beautiful horse farm with white fencing and breathtaking panoramic viewshed. The American Legion City Park is to the right with a historic marker at its entrance which tells about Union Countian Earle C. Clements who served as the sheriff, county clerk, senator and as Kentucky’s governor from 1947-1950.
Just past the park is a beautiful historic home as one enters the City of Morganfield which participates in the Renaissance Kentucky Program and has achieved their “Silver Status” to focus on the historic preservation of the downtown area.
Historic churches, homes, buildings, courthouse and square plus historic markers makes this a worthwhile stop.
The Feed Mill Restaurant is a popular stop in Morganfield.
Side Trip: From Morganfield, on Hwy 60, is Sturgis, home to Little Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
On Highway 60, one passes by the Old Depot which has been renovated into shops along with Dad’s Depot Tavern and a strip mall to the right. Tourism directional signs direct visitors to take a side trip to Camp Breckinridge Museum and Arts Center, another worthwhile stop.
Union County purchased the old Camp Breckinridge Officers Club (circa World War II) that contains murals painted by WWII German prisoners of war. The building has been restored and renamed the James D. Veatch Camp Breckinridge Museum and Arts Center. The Museum enshrines the cannon fired after Lincoln’s only presidential speech in Kentucky at Morganfield. Also, the museum largely focuses on WWII exhibits.
Along Highway 60 towards Henderson, the old barracks are visible to the right, as well as an 18-hole golf course, and the largest Job Corps in the nation. Uncle Mark’s Gourmet Popcorn factory is located in the industrial park just past the Job Corps property. Across the street is the popular Feed Mill Restaurant(see photo above).
The view of the old belt line built in the 70’s and still used today is visible along this route
Worthwhile Side Trip Loop:Turning left at the St. Vincent historic marker onto Hwy 141 takes one past Baird’s Exotic Farm which includes camels, zebras and other unique animals. To the left is St. Vincent Academy (c. 1820) and in operation until 1967.
The St. Vincent Graveyard includes graves of soldiers from the Revolutionary War. Turning right at the cemetery, one passes by a log cabin home that has been converted into a B&B. Turn right again and head towards Hwy 60, passing by a historic home on the left.
As one reenters Hwy 60 headed east, one passes through the community of Waverly.