Wallace Station, along Old Frankfort Pike in Woodford County in the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass horse country, is on the National Register of Historic Places as a surviving example of a small railroad community.
Nearby Midway, the first town in Kentucky established by a railroad, was founded along an east-west railroad line in the 1830s, which continues to exist as a CSX railroad track that still passes through downtown. Another railroad track, now abandoned, passed through Midway in a roughly north-south orientation. Chartered in 1884 and opened in 1885, this railroad connected Georgetown, Midway and Versailles by 1889, and until 1940 ferried passengers and freight, including supplies for Midway distilleries and phosphate from the mine directly behind Wallace Station.
The tree line to the east of the Wallace Station parking lot marks the old railroad bed.
The current building was built at the turn of the 20th century by the McKinivan family. The McKinivans lived upstairs — now office space — and operated a store downstairs. The store and gas station sold feed, machinery, fencing and other farming necessities, as well as consumer goods such as fabric and groceries. At one time, the building also served as a post office.
Dr. Thomas D. Clark, the late Kentucky historian, said that the former child bride of emancipationist and politician Cassius Clay, Dora Brock, who lived on the adjacent farm, was laid out in the store when she died in 1914. Clay, whom she had divorced a few years after their marriage in the 1890s, had bought her a little house on the farm, where she died in poverty.
After the last distillery in Midway closed in 1939, the railroad ceased operation in 1940 and was dismantled in 1941. Wallace Station continued to operate under various owners as a grocery. A one-story addition was built circa 1970.
The country store operated until it was purchased by Larry Taylor around 2001. Chris and Ouita Michel opened Wallace Station Deli and Bakery there in 2003, where it continues to serve delicious food with great service and hospitality.
Wallace Station was named after Caleb Wallace, an appellate court judge who settled in Woodford County on the banks of South Elkhorn Creek around 1785 and owned a large estate on Old Frankfort Pike, near the Wallace area. Judge Wallace was known as a fierce advocate for religious freedom and public education. His writings likely influenced fellow Virginia colony resident Thomas Jefferson via Wallace’s lifelong friend James Madison. Wallace helped found several colleges and universities, including Transylvania University in Lexington, and helped establish the public education system in Kentucky.