Town Branch

The Disappearance of Town Branch

by Zina Merkin, November 2001

Many mid-western cities are laid out on a grid oriented to the four principal directions. Lexington's grid, and its designations of North Limestone and East Main Street are curiously askew from those compass directions. The city originally was oriented along the banks of the Middle Fork of the Elkhorn, also known as Town Fork or Town Branch. But this stream along which the town initially was laid out is now nowhere to be seen. This paper sets out to track the vanishing of Town Branch, the reasons for its disappearance, and its influence on the development of the city of Lexington, linking this particular history with issues in the settlement and development of the United States in general.

While the stream in the earliest years may have been a pretty little creek, it quickly took on an urban character. Water supply was derived from springs, and later, wells, while the creek supported early industry. Tracking the fortunes of Town Branch offers an interesting window on the development of various kinds of urban infrastructure, and a reflection of Lexington's growth, its changing economic base, and local effects of landscape changes occurring on a national level.

Click this link to open the "The Disappearance of Town Branch" in PDF format (100 kilobytes).

New Town Branch

Renders of New Town Branch a vision of Town Branch behind Rupp Arena

Town Branch Water Walk

Did you know there is a creek beneath the city? Lexington was founded on the banks of the Town Branch Fork of the Elkhorn River, which provided a source of freshwater for colonial settlers. Listen to audio tours by University of Kentucky students.

Our Newsletters


December, 2004
June, 2004
December, 2003

November, 2002
February, 2002

October, 2001

July, 2001
November, 2000


Town Branch Trail Guide
This double-side 11" x 17" document was printed for our 2002 Annual Progress Report. It contains a narrative discussing the benefits of Town Branch Trail and descriptions of significant Landmarks along trail.

Town Branch Trail Guide
1.6m pdf

map map

Environmental Education Sign Brochure

Environmental Sign Project
1.8 megabyte Adobe PDF