Thursday, July 09, 2009

Between the Rivers

On June 19, I overnighted at the Piney Campground of Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. For years, I've been intrigued by the green splotch on U.S. maps between Tennessee and Kentucky usually just called Land Between the Lakes, but not intrigued enough to visit. Or even learn that much about it. Just one of those things involving inertia; it would have been an easy trip from Nashville when I lived there, but I never made it.

Interesting story, the creation of Land Between the Lakes. Entirely too interesting, if you ask the people who were kicked off their land in the 1960s by the TVA to create the recreation area after the damming of the Cumberland River that created Lake Barkley. (The damming of the Tennessee River had occurred in the '40s to create Kentucky Lake -- and why wasn't it called Lake Kentucky, which sounds better?) I'm not an expert on the incident, but my impression is that the people who once lived in the area -- Between the Rivers, they called it -- were evicted as ignominiously as Indians, except that they weren't required to live together somewhere else.

Still, the lakes are pretty, and they clearly offer a lot of recreation to a lot of people. This is Kentucky Lake, from the shore of the Piney Campground.

A few reminders of the former occupants remain. One, south of Golden Pond on the Trace, the main road through the recreation area, was impossible to miss from the road.

This is what remains of the Great Western Furnace, in Tennessee, built in the 1854 for smelting iron ore. You'd think such a facility would have been a target for attack during the Civil War, but no. "It closed in 1856," the historical market says, "due to lack of ore and to a slave insurrection by the furnace crew."

Whatever it did to the living residents, the federal government could not bring itself to destroy Between the Rivers cemeteries, of which there are many. I visited one north of Golden Pond, in Kentucky, though I've misplaced my notes about the name of the cemetery. It was a quiet, good-looking rural cemetery.

One Levi Brown, who passed in 1931, is presumably at rest under this homemade stone. It was probably all his relatives could afford, but it seems to have held up well.

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