Kentucky Tourism

E.P. "Tom" Sawyer History

Established in 1970

E.P. “Tom” Sawyer, a 550- acre park, is located in Louisville in the northeastern part of Jefferson County off Westport Road. Named in honor of former Jefferson County Judge Executive Erbon Powers Sawyer (1915-1969), the Commonwealth of Kentucky originally purchased the land for the park in June 1969 from the Kentucky Department of Mental Health. The Kentucky Department of Parks leased the land and the buildings in 1970 and the park opened in 1974. A portion of the property had once been used for farmland for the mental health hospital.

Louisville and the metropolitan Jefferson County area is Kentucky’s largest urban center. Both city and county are steeped in Kentucky history. As one of the three original Kentucky Counties (Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln), Jefferson County grew rapidly in population and wealth. Rich farmlands bordering the Ohio River made the county one of the most desirable places to settle during the pioneer era. Louisville was named in honor of King Louis XVI of France for the French monarch’s support of the American struggle for independence from Great Britain during the Revolution. The Ohio River town became a major trading center.

Notables from America and Europe came to Louisville for business and pleasure. Charles Dickens visited the city and wrote that the Galt House Hotel was as fine as any hotel in Paris. Jenny Lind, the famous nineteenth century Swedish singer, performed in the city. Oscar Wilde, the brilliant British wit and playwright, also visited Louisville.

Louisville is best known as the home of one of the most famous sporting events in the world—the Kentucky Derby. Since 1875, the first Saturday in May is dedicated to watching the best in thoroughbred racing. Millions of people watch via television and listen to radios to horse racing’s premiere event.

E.P. “Tom “Sawyer State Park is an extraordinary urban park. There are activities and events that offer something for even the most demanding individual. The park is open throughout the year.