Clarence Henson

Clarence Edward Henson

December 31, 1920 – September 3, 1995


© The Lexington Herald


Clarence was born in Breathitt County and died in Stanton, Kentucky.  His father worked in a sawmill and as a truck driver for the C.C.C. Veterans Camp as he was growing up.  He went to the Speed School at the University of Louisville.  He then was in World War II where he rose to the rank of 1st Sergeant in the U.S. Army. 

When Clarence was 18, he dove into shallow water near his home in Quicksand and broke his neck!  It was while diving into the Kentucky River.  He fractured his third cervical vertebra and paralyzed his arm.

He then became employed by the U.S. Forest Service and was with them for 20 years in the Gorge.  He spent 16 of those years being a fire control officer in the Stanton District of the Daniel Boone National Forest.  He was actively involved in the local community of Powell County and retired from the forest service in 1969.  He would then get appointed as the head of Natural Bridge State Park in 1971.  Have you ever hiked the Henson Arch Trail?  This is the man it is named for.

Clarence also presented scenes from the Cumberland Ranger District at club meetings.  He would go through his color slide collection of the Gorge area and tell tales of adventures.  Years later his son said that his father would tell tales of the rugged Gorge area, including the tale of John Swift’s silver mine.

Robert Ruchhoft mentions in his book that Clarence was a great resource for the location of arches, and other things around the Gorge area.  The Lexington Leader wrote that ‘Henson, a native of the region, is “rich in lore of field and brook.”  He can tell the location of 25 natural rock bridges and arches in the federal preserve, but the only true natural span is over Swift’s Camp Creek.  The others are rock arches, most of them at the summit of high hills.’


Below is Clarence’s obituary as it appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader on Tuesday September 5, 1995.

STANTON – Clarence E. Henson, 74, 601 West College Ave., retired U.S. Forest Service, husband of Clara Lee Henson, died Sunday.  Services 2 p.m. Wednesday at Slade First Church of God.  Visitation 5 p.m. today at Wells Funeral Home.



Staff. (1971, December 17). C.E. Henson Appointed Park Head. The Lexington Herald, p. A47.

Staff.  (1964, April 18). Scenic High Rock Tower Is Forest Fire Lookout. The Lexington Leader, p. 3.

Booth, Taylor. (1959, October 31). Lexington Marine Reserve Unit Taking 'Survival' Training in Wolfe County. The Lexington Leader, p. 16.

Staff. (1971, December 17). C.E. Henson Appointed Park Head. The Lexington Herald, p. 12.