Jesse Stuart State Nature Preserve
Greenup County, Kentucky
Jesse built his 700 acre farm by slowly buying the land around his original acreage. In the excellent book entitled ‘A Jesse Stuart Reader’, he presented a selection of short stories, essays, and poetry- each prefaced with a page or two where he told the true story ‘behind the story’. One of the stories is called ‘Old Op and the Devil’.
In the introduction, he explains that he bought 252 acres of rugged hill land that adjoined his property and discovered a cabin that he didn’t know existed. The cabin was high on the ridge and an old man named Op lived there alone. Op had been there for a long time- living off the land and taking advantage of what each season provides to a resourceful person in terms of food and home remedies. Jesse let him stay.
Op was a big story teller and because Jesse loved to listen to them- they became good friends. Jesse’s dog, Jerry, went along for the visits and liked the place so well that he stayed with Op for 2 years before he came home.
If you take the hiking trail to the top of the hill, you’ll find Ops Cabin still sitting in one of the most beautiful ridge-top meadows that we have around here. As the local story goes, after Op passed on, Jesse used the cabin as a writers retreat where he’d pen his stories in solitude.