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Jonquils Along U.S. 641 Make 70th Appearance Near Lyon-Caldwell County Line

Keith Todd, District 1 Public Information Officer
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

For the last 70 years, the arrival of spring has brought with it a bright spot for motorists along U.S. 641 near the Lyon-Caldwell county line. For about two weeks each year, a half-mile section of U.S. 641 near the 4-mile marker in Lyon County is lined with bright yellow jonquils.

The bulbs that create the colorful display were planted by Charles Brockmeyer Jr., with help from his friend and farmhand Kell Moore of Princeton in the fall of 1949. The flowers first bloomed in the spring of 1950, making this the 70th year they have brightened the roadside right of way between Eddyville and Fredonia.

Brockmeyer’s daughter, Sandy Brockmeyer Button, says her father would be pleased the flowers are still providing an annual splash of color along the roadway.

“My father fought in the Netherlands in World War II. He was so impressed by all the flowers he saw there that he wanted to bring something back,” Button said. “He decided to plant jonquils along the highway in front of our farm in Lyon County. At one time they extended for almost a mile on both sides of the highway.”

Now living in Vermont, Sandy Button still gets a great deal of joy on those rare occasions when she returns to Western Kentucky to visit her daughter while the flowers are in bloom.  Button has continued to pay it forward in honor of the legacy her father left for others by planting rows of flowers along roadways near her home in Vermont.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) highway crews routinely mow the area along U.S. 641 several times during the summer months.  Otherwise, the flowers have continued to grow on their own. 

Retired KYTC Lyon County Highway Superintendent Roger Knoth recalls sighting the flowers decades ago and is pleased they’ve stood the test of time.

“When I was a child, I remember seeing those blooms in the spring as we’d go to the farm store in Fredonia to buy seed to plant our garden,” Knoth said.

Inspired by the rows of flowers near the former Brockmeyer home, Knoth picked up the jonquil planting bug.  He and his grandchildren have planted the flowers along sections of Martins Chapel Road and about a mile of KY 810 North in Lyon County.

“A lot of people think you have to plant them in the fall, but they do quite well when you plant them this time of year,” Knoth added.

Knoth gets his bulbs by digging them around old home place sites on a farm he owns.

Area residents have grown accustomed to the display of flowers that usually appear in mid-March.  Due to the length of time they’ve been along the roadway, the rows of jonquils are considered a protected heritage site.  Disturbing the flowers or digging of bulbs on state right of way is prohibited, and citizens must obtain a permit before planting any vegetation along state-maintained right of way.

The flowers are likely to be blooming for about another week along U.S. 641 about a mile south of the Lyon-Caldwell County line between Eddyville and Fredonia.

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