Hart County, Kentucky (population 17,445), was first settled in the late 1700s, with many of the early settlers being veterans of the Revolutionary War who had received Kentucky land as compensation for their military service. The county was officially formed in 1819 and today has three incorporated cities: Munfordville (the county seat), Horse Cave, and Bonnieville.
In the 1850s, a railroad line linking Louisville and Nashville was constructed across the county, making it of strategic importance during the Civil War. Three battles took place near Munfordville as both sides tried to gain control of the railroad line and its bridge across the Green River. Following the war, Hart County remained primarily agricultural well into the 1900s.
Following the establishment in 1941 of Mammoth Cave National Park, which partially lies in Hart County, the county has increasingly become a tourist destination.
Hart County's comprehensive plan emphasizes heritage tourism and community revitalization through preservation. Focus has recently centered on preserving and promoting the Battle of the Bridge Historic Preserve, which includes Munfordville battlefield acreage and associated properties. The County's Civil War heritage is annually celebrated during Civil War Days, a three-day festival.
The Hart County Historical Society, which receives County support, operates a museum and archives in the historic Chapline Building (1892) which was recently renovated with a grant from the Federal Transportation Enhancements Program. The county also helps to support revitalization efforts in Munfordville and Horse Cave, both of which have been designated Preserve America Communities.
Designated a Preserve America Community in January 2005.