If there was a documentary Bridges of Madison County movie, it probably wouldn’t star Clint Eastwood. The star would be The Clays Ferry I-75 bridge soaring 250-plus feet above the Kentucky River and quickly connecting Lexington and Richmond, replacing years of ferry rides.

Photo by Gregory Smith

The Clays Ferry overlook wall was built in 1934, as a scenic overlook on the Old Dixie Highway. 

The “co-star” would definitely be lifelong Madison County native, Jay Webb. He builds custom cars, trucks, and motorcycles and says, he’d  “been interested in the Dixie Highway for years, and this was a major point along it.”

A friend of his was related to family who “owned a portion of the property and he mentioned selling it, so that was my first contact. After I purchased that I tracked down the owners of the rest of the property and convinced them to sell.”

Admitting the project was “an enormous undertaking” — progress was slowed down by “a heart attack and triple-bypass open heart surgery” —  he adds, seeing “how many people stop and enjoy it again makes it worthwhile. Every age and walk of life stops by. I can’t count the number of ‘Thank Yous’ I’ve had.” 

In recent years, the spot has been the site of proposals, graduation photos, and even weddings, just to name a few. 

Cover photo by Jonathan Gaddis

Unfortunately, the Overlook has often served as a dumping ground. Webb’s cleanup efforts have been significant, and are ongoing. He estimates he’s removed 150 tires just since he bought the property. 

“I just thought it was such a beautiful place and I wanted to save it,” he says.

As for the future of the property, he says, “Hopefully I can turn the little house into some sort of visitor center. I’ve been accumulating as much memorabilia as I can of the area to display.” Fans have been posting decades of history, memory, and shared photos on the Facebook page, which has amassed nearly 5000 followers.

Visit the Overlook’s page, maintained by Webb, at facebook.com/claysferryoverlook.

This article appears on page 8 of the June 2023 issue of HJ. To subscribe to our digital edition, click here.