Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mishaps at Rabbit Hash

This went from my favorite story idea to a cautionary tale very fast. 

By: Christian Glass, Queen City Discovery intern.

For those who aren’t familiar with Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, take I-71 South onto Mt. Zion Road  through suburban Kentucky, where "tweens" playing four square is the sight to see. Taking a sharp left onto Rabbit Hash Hill Rd. after some twenty minutes changes everything. The road becomes smaller and less defined at the edges, greenery and passing bikers laying their claim to what little pavement there is to share. If you survive the paranoia you’re going to hit something or someone, the trees thin out until you can see the Ohio River bank and a white one story building, which out front reads: “Rabbit Hash, Kentucky: Tobacco, Sundries, Potions, Notions.”

Rabbit Hash is home to roughly 300 citizens spread out over five square miles of land, and the state’s best preserved general store. It’s become quite the tourist attraction; meaning, you’ll run into the locals, teenage posses looking for a new experience, and professional amateur photographers insisting on taking your picture in front of whichever building they find most juxtaposed. Oh yes, and their mayor is a dog. 

- The mayor was nowhere to be seen. This was just a friendly dog willing to pose.

The original “election” in 1998 was a stab at corruption in politics, where the citizens paid a dollar for a vote as a fund raiser, and the candidate that raised the most money won. Mayor Goofy took office, and a tradition was born. Lucy Lou the border collie holds office currently. 

Like you, I was fascinated by the city when my girlfriend took me there in March, and when I heard they were holding elections in mid-May, I marked my calendar, borrowed my sister’s Nikon (which i had to teach myself in the hours beforehand), and braved the paranoia to get my story. 

- Urban and suburban Rabbit Hash are stark contrasts, separated only by a stones throw worth of river.

Here’s where my…. “educational opportunity” comes. When we walked into the store, the half dozen patrons looked up from their coffee for a warm smile, and then returned to their day. Someone asked if we were registered to vote in Kentucky, which should have been a red flag. I obliviously asked where the mayor was and who was running this year. The man’s smile lowered a hair and told me positions like governor that were being voted on. I say to myself, “Wow they take their charity election very seriously here.”

I continued to oaf about until I saw the little table they had set up, which had real names on real ballots for real positions. These were legitimate Kentucky elections, and I had sauntered in with my blue button up, black tie, and out of towner attitude cracking jokes about their mayor. Which alone would have been embarrassing, but the fact I brought a camera into a voting center, which ranges from highly frowned upon to moderately illegal. 

The man has put away his smile, and pulled out a scowl, and forces a, “Son, you can’t bring that in here,” between lips that were zippered together with annoyance. I agreed, and shamefully shuffled my way past everyone and towards the river, wondering if there was anywhere high enough to throw myself into it.

I should note other than this instance, which was 100% my fault, the town has been open and inviting on both of my visits. I’m hoping to go back in June for their barn dance, and they were willing to tell the town’s story, that they’d probably told a handful of times today and a bucketload over their lives. The town has endured the wrath of the river over the years. A sign posted out front of the gas station reads, “Ever subject to floods and ice, Rabbit Hash has survived the whims of both nature and man.”

Dog mayor novelty aside, I’ve already spent hours picnicking, playing board games in the sand, watching river boats dock across the way, and bathing in an afternoon sun that just feels softer on the hill in front of Louie’s vibrator repair shop.

I reiterate: This went from my favorite story idea to a cautionary tale very fast. Lesson #1 of my internship: I now know what assuming does. It makes for a great story.

Christian Glass is a Journalism major from Northern Kentucky University, interning with Queen City Discovery for the summer of 2015.

Update | Oct. 22, 2017:
  • In 2016, the Rabbit Hash General Store burned to the ground. In 2017, it was rebuilt and reopened.


  1. My uncle ran against the dog in that first election! They actually did a movie about it, check out the site here http://www.rabbithashthemovie.com/.

  2. Great article Christian. I look forward to reading about your future adventures.