Written by Lindsey Harlan and Sara Rashid, this article originally appeared on Explore Kentucky Lake’s Explorations in October 2010.
In small towns, stories spread like wildfire, and when those stories carry a wicked or spooky twist, it is not shocking that those creepy tales become legends. Our corner of the world is no different. While we like to think of our area as a little slice of paradise, with all the Native American and Civil War history in this region, not to mention the unpopular relocation of many residents during the creation of Land Between The Lakes, it is no surprise that a few eye-brow raising stories have been spun over the years. If you add to these historical events the legend of the Beast of LBL, the Phantom Trucker, the “Vampire Hotel” and the countless cemeteries tucked within these hills, LBL can become a haven for the creepy and weird.
My husband and I had the opportunity to get away for the afternoon without our small children. We set out for an exciting exploration of an area we had not had many opportunities to investigate: Camden, Tenn. We had heard that there was a wonderful place to view Kentucky Lake at an overlook called Pilot Knob. Obviously, this was right up our alley. What we didn’t know was that the Tennessee River Folklife Center was located nearby.
It’s always interesting to see local historical photos of Kentucky Lake before its creation. These are no exception. Some of these are from the Kentucky Dam Visitor’s Center while others have unknown origins.
Visitors to Land Between The Lakes can take a step back in time to an era before virtually any modern amenity. The Homeplace 1850s Working Farm and Living History Museum features an active farm with period buildings, tools, animals, and interpreters dressed in attire of the 1850s.
Traveling down US 68/KY 80 from Bowling Green to Hopkinsville, first-timers may rub their eyes a bit when a giant obelisk that looks like the Washington Monument peaks over the trees in the horizon. Double-takes are certain for those who have never been through this part of southern Kentucky and have not seen the Jefferson Davis Monument.
It’s not every day one gets to see the inner-workings of a large hydroelectric plant inside a huge dam. The opportunity presented itself to us not too long ago – we got to partake in a private tour of the powerhouse at Kentucky Dam.
A monument of Paducah’s extensive railroad history is located downtown at the riverfront wall. This locomotive, a 1923 Mikado, along with a baggage-mail car and a caboose, is a reminder of our country’s dependence on railroads throughout history.
Cars, semi-trucks and highways didn’t exist in the 19th century. Folks and freight moved across the country largely on trains. Paducah became a transportation hub in the early 20th century with the intersection of two large rail lines – the Illinois Central Railroad and the Nashville, St. Louis and Louisville Railroad. A large railroad shop, which still exists today on Kentucky Avenue, was built in 1929, further solidifying Paducah as a railroad hub.
The shop refurbished this Mikado 2-8-2 in 1940 and again in 1951 before being donated to the City of Paducah in the mid-1960s.
While the railroad industry has declined substantially in the United States, it continues to play a significant role to the economy in Paducah. If you want to go see it for yourself, head to downtown Paducah’s riverfront area. You can’t miss it.
Geocaching is an activity where you locate a geocache using Global Positioning System or GPS. A geocache is typically a small container hidden on public grounds that contain small trinkets and a log book. Handheld GPS units or your smartphone can guide you to geocaches.
Maplewood Cemetery in Mayfield, Ky. has many unusually large and ornate burial tombs. The most prominent memorial display in the cemetery is the Wooldridge Monuments. The curious set of 18 statues are known as “the strange procession which never moves.”