LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The spatter of the Rockcastle River and the call of birds of the wild echo through the natural landscaped setting that defines the Rockcastle River Trading Company, located just north of London on U.S. 25.
Established in 1956 by the Carloftis family, the facility is still run by one of its original founders — Lucille Carloftis. She gets a little help from her family — daughter Betsy and sons Buzz and Jon.
The native 50-plus club members such as myself can recall visiting this site as a child, when the place was a single long building offset by a gravel parking area just off U.S. 25 North. In front of the store were statues and real-life clad “Indians” donning the buckskin outfits and carrying and/or playing the drums. Before our world evolved to the “politically correct” standard we have today, the place was known simply as “The Indian Village.”
The construction of Interstate 75 in the mid- and late 1960s averted most of the heavy traffic that brought visitors from both north and south through the area and many thriving businesses along that particular stretch of road suffered, with many folding under for lack of income.
One business relocated (Dog Patch Trading Post), moving to the intersection of I-75 and Ky. 80 and continued to thrive over the past five decades.
The Indian Village, now known as The Rockcastle River Trading Company, stuck to its original site but renovated and upgraded to move along with the times while managing to keep its down-home atmosphere.
While Buzz Carloftis oversees the business for Rockcastle County during the week, he spends time at his family home on weekends, helping his mother and family members continue the family business started by his parents in 1956. Jon Carloftis divides his time between his home place and the skyscraper gardens in New York City and other notable landscaping designs across the country to go back to his roots. In fact, Jon is to be credited for the current designs at The Rockcastle River Trading Company that feature a backyard pond accented with lily pads, gazing balls, and a fountain frog that spews a constant stream of water back into the pond.
Surrounding the pond is a sidewalk, adorned with trees, plants and benches which is also the design of the entrance to the business’s shop. A lightly graveled and winding walkway leads visitors along a shrub- and tree-lined path amidst a lush but perfectly manicured lawn, where a rock wall and benches protect a pathway leading down to the actual shore of the Rockcastle River.
Cottages, classic cars and a cage with peacocks just touch the serenity and beauty of this 50 year old business that is one of the many treasures unbeknownst to many residents in Laurel and Rockcastle counties. The Rockcastle River Trading Company is the perfect site for getting back to nature, relaxing, visiting, picnicking or a restful walk with multitudes of photography opportunities.
It is not only the Carloftis family business, it is a testimony to entrepreneurship and endurance.
If natural beauty is your passion, this is definitely one place you won’t want to miss.