Prestonville was, before 1800, the most important town in the county, and was larger than Carrollton, (then Port William). It was named for Colonel William Preston [Dec. 25, 1729 - Jun. 28, 1783] of Virginia, a hero of the revolutionary war who had been grated several thousand acres of land on the west side of the Kentucky River, including the part where this town was built. Located on the Ohio River at the mouth of the Kentucky River, it was an ideal location for a settlement. One of the first roads built in this section of the state was from the mouth of the Kentucky to New Castle in Henry County.
About 1795 Elijah Craig, Jr. built a warehouse here, and a fleet of flatboats and keelboats to transport merchandise up the Kentucky River. A notice was published in the Cincinnati Centinel of the Northwest Territory stating that he would start making trips up the Kentucky River, starting on the 1st day of February, 1795, with sufficient number of boats to transport all goods to points up the river, and added that he had a store house large enough to care for all goods left with him for transport. His fees were 50 cents per 100 pounds to Frankfort, and $1.25 to Dick’s River.
I later years, the Wise general store and the Darling distillery were important businesses in Prestonville. In addition, there were two hotels (one still standing) and other small stores; a cooperage shop and grist mill.
Transportation across the Kentucky River between Carrollton and Prestonville was by ferry before 1898, when the first bridge was built across the Kentucky River. It was a toll bridge, owned by a private company until it was bought by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and was made toll-free about 1933. The present bridge, a beautiful concrete and steel span, was completed in 1952 and opened to traffic. As the use of U.S. Highway 42 had increased to a tremendous volume by that time, this bridge was badly needed.
A. W. Darling and Brothers, a construction firm, came to the Carroll County area to build the first lock and dam on the Kentucky River, which was completed in 1838. A. W. Darling settled in Carrollton and founded a distillery and flour mill in Prestonville. He also owned a general store in Prestonville and shipped many thousand barrels of flour by flatboat to New Orleans.
Darling retired in 1880 and sold his distillery to a corporation known as the “Whiskey Trust,” and as his product was so famous over the adjacent area, he was said to have received a very good price for the brand “Old Darling.” However, the Darling Distillery continued to operate for many years after this time.
Traffic along the Ohio River began to decline after 1854 when the Kentucky Central Railroad was completed from Covington to Lexington and Nicholasville. This affected the trade in Prestonville, which within a few years after this time had dwindled to a very small place. Prestonville is incorporated as a Sixth class city, but has been inactive municipally for the past several years. Present businesses include two grocery stores, the Dairy Queen Restaurant, the Carroll County Tractor Sales, Carroll Mobile Home Sales, a truck stop, and two filling stations. The state highway operations, in a building on the north side of U.S. 42, have been moved to a new location on the Lock Road, just west of the Carrollton National Guard Armory. Annual floods of the two rivers have handicapped the town in recent years, necessitating the removal of most of the population to other sites during high water.
Also included in this area are several trailer park sites which are heavily populated.
From the Carrollton News Democrat of October 12, 1967