When I was a kid, I thought it would be neat to be an archaeologist. I suppose that is why I find some of the remains of “past civilizations” fascinating in the Land Between The Lakes. But the society that is evident in LBL today was from 50 years ago, not 5,000… a period which most archaeologists might enjoy. In fact, many people remember what it used to be like in LBL before TVA took over. But for folks like me, we don’t have the memories… but we see the evidence and hear the stories.
Upon the creation of our Explorations section of Explore Kentucky Lake back in 2002 (which has evolved to this standalone site, Four Rivers Explorer), I had no idea at the time that this partially-removed railroad bridge and the “big building in the middle of Kentucky Lake” were related. So at that time, I did two different articles, only later realizing that these two structures are related.
In 1901, William White had a problem. He wanted to bring a railroad to Cadiz, Kentucky from nearby Gracey to help transport tobacco and other freight across the area. Gracey had nice rail lines served by the Illinois Central and the Louisville and Nashville. Connecting Cadiz to Gracey would benefit the citizens of this Trigg County seat immensely.
A special thanks to the Lloyd family of Asheville, North Carolina for donating some potentially never-before-seen historical photos of the old L&N Railroad Bridge at Danville, Tennessee. The photos were from a family member who was the engineer for the L&N Railroad bridge during the construction in 1931-1932.
Michael Hale sent us photos of the old railroad that once went through Hardin, Kentucky, known last as the Hardin Southern Railroad.
You can read about the history of Hardin Southern Railroad here.
Mr. Hale tells us the passenger car photos are from 1986 and 1987, just three years or so after the line was severed from Hardin to Paducah. The other photos are from around 1999-2000.
Several years ago, right after we had our first child, we were treated with an afternoon off from our little guy and ventured out into the vast woods of Land Between The Lakes.
The destination was Pryor Creek, just south of the KY/TN border near Lake Barkley. We were on the hunt for an old abandoned bridge, and with some luck, we found it. We went in the summertime and had to fight ticks, mosquitoes and a lot of overgrowth.
Recently I decided to take advantage of a warm winter day to revisit the Pryor Creek bridge ruins and see if I could get better photos. With all the briers and vegetation gone, it would be a lot easier to get to. It was good to get these photos!
Lake Barkley recently turned 50. The US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) built Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River near Grand Rivers in the early 1960s. The dam birthed Lake Barkley – a shallow sister of Kentucky Lake, just a few miles east of its sibling.
When Lake Barkley reaches winter pool each fall, the remains of Old Kuttawa, Kentucky emerge. A thriving town of several hundred in the early part of the 20th century, a good part of the old city is now buried under the waters of Lake Barkley.
Old Kuttawa called the Cumberland River its home, fixed on its northern shores. Founded right after the Civil War in 1866 by Ohio Governor Charles Anderson, who served a short five-month term as the head of the state, the origin of the town’s name is disputed.
The purpose of Four Rivers Explorer can be traced back to my years as a kid. You can read more about that here on our site bio page. To quickly summarize, my family traveled down US 79 between Paris Landing and Dover, Tenn. several times back in the early 1990s.
Each time we went down the road, I always looked for the bridge. No, not the one crossing Kentucky Lake or the one at Dover, but a small abandoned bridge right on the edge of US 79. It’s hard to see it in the summer with all the overgrowth, but you could get a great look at it in the winter time.
The Hardin Southern Railroad was a nostalgic passenger train that ran along about eight miles of track between Hardin and Murray, Ky. The railroad wound its way along the Clark’s River valley through dense forests and farmland. The train began operations in 1993 and ceased in 2004.