Looking for a new way to experience Paducah's spirited history or Kentucky bourbon connections? Tour Paducah, Kentucky like a local and with a local as your guide!

Downtown Architecture

Atomic City Tours explores historic points of interest related to Paducah's bourbon heritage.

By Richard Parker

I first fell in love with Kentucky history while studying as an undergraduate at Murray State University and then as a graduate student at Western Kentucky University. I have lived in Paducah for five years, and Paducah's history continues to inspire me to learn more about our great city. My wife Emily and I recently founded Atomic City Tours, a new way for locals and visitors to explore the rich history of downtown Paducah.

The inspiration for Forgotten Spirits, our first tour, came during our time exploring the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. For this tour, we wanted to highlight Paducah's largely forgotten historical role in the bourbon industry.

Atomic City Tours

Atomic City Tours presents a new way for visitors and locals to explore Paducah's rich history.


While researching a chapter for my new book entitled Wicked Western Kentucky, I noticed that Isaac Wolfe Bernheim, one of Kentucky's largest bourbon barons, wrote in his autobiography about many places during his time in Paducah. I then found the location of those buildings using the Paducah City Directories and the Sanborn Maps of Paducah and realized it would make an outstanding walking tour!

Visitors can expect to learn about four bourbons which have strong ties to Paducah and are still in production today. We explore the locations tied to these four bourbons along with the men that made these brands famous. The tour includes themes such as the contributions of African Americans, Jewish and Italian immigrants and their roles in the bourbon industry.

Participants will walk in the footsteps of Isaac Wolfe Bernheim, Joseph Friedman, John Keiler, Leslie B. Samuels, and Bill Samuels, whose iconic bourbon brands still dominate shelves today.

Forgotten Spirits Bourbon Flight

Try the Forgotten Spirits flight at Barrel and Bond or other local bourbon offerings.


After taking the tour, visit Barrel and Bond for the chance to explore the Forgotten Spirits specialty bourbon flight featuring the four bourbons discussed on our tour. After Barrel and Bond, visit The FoxBriar Cocktail Bar and have the bartender craft you a Sazerac made with Kentucky bourbon!

Paducah also boasts several outstanding restaurants with outstanding bourbon selections and bourbon-themed cocktails. Try Grill 211, Max's Brick Oven or freight house for dinner and bourbon-themed drinks. Catch a live musical performance at a local restaurant, bar or venue. Finally, a walk by the riverfront to feel the breeze from the Ohio River is the best way to end a night in Paducah.

Alben Barkley Irvin Cobb Mural

From the Paducah Riverfront to Paducah "Wall to Wall," Paducah's history awaits to be discovered.


I love exploring a new place or person and then finding new information that sparks my interest in a new topic. I also enjoy linking the past with what's popular in the present. Hence, people's current fascination and love for all things bourbon!

Whether you are a resident or visitor to Paducah, when you come to our city, you are truly walking in the footsteps of the people who helped create the fabric of America. From famous native sons including Alben Barkley and Irvin Cobb and everyone in between, our history is layered with people, places and events that reflect the American spirit. I invite you to dig deep and explore how our local history helps tell the larger American story!

From brick streets to bourbon bars, share how the history of #PaducahCreativeCity inspires you!