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Have You Heard of Henderson, Kentucky’s Lucky Horseshoe?



Have you heard of Henderson’s lucky horseshoe? You might think it would be found at Ellis Park Racing & Gaming, where bettors try their luck on Thoroughbred beauties. However, Henderson’s lucky horseshoe isn’t actually a horseshoe, but a horseshoe bend in the mighty Ohio River.

Map depicting a horseshoe shaped bend in the Ohio River.

Horseshoe shaped bend in the Ohio River.

Legend states that hanging a horseshoe on or over the door of a home will bring good luck to those inside. Being situated on the Ohio River’s horseshoe bend, around here, we think Henderson holds the good luck! The mighty Ohio’s horseshoe bend makes some peculiar things happen in Henderson. Is it luck or coincidence? 

Henderson Hold the Good Luck long-sleeve t-shirt.

“Henderson Holds the Good Luck” long-sleeve t-shirt.

Take for instance the flood of 1937. Over 20 inches of rain fell in Henderson over an 18-day period. How is it that Henderson avoided major flood damage… our good luck maybe? The city of Henderson sits on a high bluff, so we were spared of drastic flood damage. Every other town in Kentucky located on the banks of the Ohio River flooded drastically, experiencing severe devastation. Leigh Harris, publisher of the local Henderson newspaper, wrote, “Henderson is on the Ohio, but never in it!” This popular saying is still heard today.

“On the Ohio, but never in it,” light blue t-shirt design.

If you go back further in history, the city of Henderson luckily dodged another near tragic event on the Ohio River. Henderson’s horse racing track, Ellis Park, is often mistaken as being located in Indiana.  But there is more to this story!

Ellis Park with the Ohio River bridge in the background.

When Kentucky was founded, the northern border of Henderson Kentucky stopped at the Ohio River dividing Kentucky from Indiana’s southern border. However, in 1811, an earthquake changed the course of the river and left dry land to the north of it. Since the border remained as it was in 1792, Ellis Park is technically in Kentucky, though it lies on the opposite side of the Ohio River. The city of Henderson avoided a crisis and now Thoroughbred horses run on the horseshoe bend of the Ohio River. Try your luck at Ellis Park!

Vintage postcard of Henderson’s Club Trocadero.

Speaking of trying your luck, Henderson’s horseshoe bend used to be home to one of Kentucky’s extravagant and elite underground gambling facilities called Club Trocadero. Though it operated on the books as nightclub, its reputation was known for the 400 illegal slot machines on the second floor. Only couples were allowed through the front door and there was a strictly enforced dress code. The club was partially owned by the town sheriff for a few years. Can you imagine the appeal of a luxurious and illegally operating gambling club that was partially owned by a sheriff? It didn’t matter if you were a townie couple or big name gangster, everyone wanted to try their luck at the Troc!

“Henderson Holds the Good Luck” long-sleeve t-shirt.

This story has us feeling like spreading the luck! Enjoy 30% off your online purchase from our gift shop through Saturday, June 20, 2020 using the code GOODLUCK30.