Riverwalk Statue Tour
Located in Covington’s Historic Licking Riverside Neighborhood, the tour is comprised of seven life-like bronze statues of historical figures. Now a part of the Cincinnati Bicentennial River Walk, this tract of land was once the site of a 150-acre farm owned by Thomas Kennedy, the founder of Covington.
Prior to the early 18th century, this area was a vast hunting ground for Shawnee, Mingo, Miami, and other Native American tribes. In 1751, British explorer, Christopher Gist, along with his companions, became the first recorded white men to come ashore here at what would be known as the Point.
The Point was a spot that was easily recognizable as a large limestone rock formation which protruded out from the Kentucky shore from the confluence of the Ohio and Licking Rivers. Located on the western side of the mouth of the Licking, it was for thousands of years the place where large herds of bison, elk, and deer crossed during their seasonal migration from the plains of Ohio to the central bluegrass region of Kentucky. Local historians often refer to nearby Greenup Street as a road paved by buffalo.
During the pioneer days, the Point saw much activity in the mustering of troops to respond to Indian attacks. The area would remain virtually uninhabited during this time period since Indian war parties also used the area as a mustering point.
George Rogers Clark organized his troops here during fights with the natives and British during the American Revolutionary War. In August 1782, when a British-Indian force defeated the Kentucky militia at the Battle of Blue Licks, Clark responded by leading an expedition from the Point into the Ohio country to destroy several Indian towns along the Greater Miami River in the last major expedition of the war.
In 1789, Francis Kennedy, the first Irishman to settle in Cincinnati, Ohio, established a ferry crossing between that city and present-day Covington, Kentucky. The Point became known to travelers as Kennedy’s Ferry.
Beginning in 1791, his brother, Thomas Kennedy, who had followed him to Cincinnati, operated the Kentucky side of his brothers ferry business. That same year, Thomas began the construction of a stone house and tavern which once stood at the rear of what is today George Rogers Clark Park. The stone tavern became the northern terminus of a stage coach route from Lexington, Kentucky to Cincinnati, Ohio, chartered by Boone County resident, Abner Gaines.
In 1792, Major General Anthony Wayne headed a force that eventually numbered 16,000 Kentucky militia out of Fort Washington, located directly across from the mouth of the Licking River in Cincinnati, into northern Ohio to engage the Indians in a final decisive attack known as the “Battle of Fallen Timbers.” Soon afterward, fighting with natives diminished and the area became safe for settlement.
In 1801, Thomas Kennedy purchased 200 acres of land near the confluence of the Ohio and Licking Rivers which he eventually sold to investors in the Covington Company, a group that established the town of Covington, Kentucky in 1815.
The beginnings of Covington can be found at the junction of Second and Garrard Streets, in a small park commemorating the legendary George Rogers Clark. Inside the park, a stone tablet marks the spot where Kennedy’s stone house and tavern once stood. It was demolished in 1914, and its stones would be used later to pave Kennedy Street two blocks to the east.
Along the Ohio rivershore, the Riverwalk Statue Tour provides a history lesson comprised of seven life-like bronze statues of historical figures relevant to Covington’s history. This includes, Chief Little Turtle, one of the most famous Native American military leaders of his time, John James Audubon, who spent time here drawing and painting, and of course, Simon Kenton.
James Bradley, who was brought to America as an infant by slave traders, had earned enough money to purchase his freedom and took part in the Lane Seminary debates on slavery. Daniel Carter Beard founded the Boy Scouts in 1910. Captain Mary B. Greene was one of the few women to become a licensed river pilot and boat master, and finally, John A. Roebling, best known as the architect of the Brooklyn Bridge, had also designed the Roebling Suspension Bridge, is also recognized with a monument at the foot of Greenup Street.
A favorite for photographers and river-walkers, this site is on the Arts and Culture Tour and Historic Tour. Open to the public