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Among the many hidden gems in Bluegrass history is the state's long relationship with hemp, a history noted by a historical Hemp Highway designation. Archibald McNeil was the first to plant the crop in the state in 1775. In 1803, John Wesley Hunt opened the first hemp bagging factory in the United States and helped transform Lexington into the Athens of the West. Another grower, Thomas Barbee, had a child with an enslaved person and freed his children on his deathbed. His grandson became a hemp grower as well. New organizations like Homestead Alternatives and Zelios Inc. have taken that…mehr

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Among the many hidden gems in Bluegrass history is the state's long relationship with hemp, a history noted by a historical Hemp Highway designation. Archibald McNeil was the first to plant the crop in the state in 1775. In 1803, John Wesley Hunt opened the first hemp bagging factory in the United States and helped transform Lexington into the Athens of the West. Another grower, Thomas Barbee, had a child with an enslaved person and freed his children on his deathbed. His grandson became a hemp grower as well. New organizations like Homestead Alternatives and Zelios Inc. have taken that history into the modern world. Author Dan Isenstein details the history of the crop and the historic trail dedicated to it.