Off The Beaten Path

If you are bored and looking for something different to experience, look no further.  Four Rivers Explorer presents “Off The Beaten Path” – featuring places that aren’t typically the first thing to come to mind when looking for a destination or a quick boredom fix.

    Devil's Pulpit

    When people first hear about Devil's Pulpit, they might assume it is a place of fright and horror. A cold, dreaded place filled with fear and uncertainty. But what if I told you Devil's Pulpit, found in southeastern Calloway County, Kentucky near New Concord, was a serene and peaceful place, filled with natural beauty and wonder?

    Devil's Pulpit

    Devil's Pulpit is located about 200 yards off Deerberry Lane in the Blood River bottoms. This rock formation sits up high on a steep hill overlooking the valley below. Situated at about 500 feet above sea level, the pulpit rises 130 feet above the river and provides a great vista. The only sign of civilization is a communications tower in the distance. Various types of trees can be seen everywhere, with a few of them even growing on top of the rock.

    But why would such a place be known as "Devil's Pulpit"? There certainly isn't anything frightening about the hill. In fact, it reminded me a little of the Smoky Mountains (partially because it was 35° and spitting snow when I explored it). However, according to local legend, something terrible occurred around these famed rocks.

    The Legend of Devil's Pulpit

    It was 1861, and the US was at the start of the Civil War. The Union forces were notorious for killing farm animals that belonged to the locals.

    Devil's Pulpit

    A New Concord girl, who was about 13 years of age, loved her mare. She cringed at the thought of seeing her beloved animal murdered by the South's enemies. After seeking a safe place to hide her horse, she found a spot on a hill near some large rocks. A couple of the rocks were situated perfectly to provide refuge for her adored animal.

    Everyday, the girl would visit the mare to bring it food and water and provide it company. As the months went by and the war got worse, her pet remained sheltered. One day, when she went to the rocks to visit the mare, she was shocked to find a wounded Union solider near the rocks. He was too weak to find food or water, and the locals certainly wouldn't provide help. The girl felt very sorry and began to take care of him.

    Everyday, she would take sustenance to the soldier and would clean his wounds. Over time, the two fell madly in love. Shortly thereafter, the unthinkable happened - she got pregnant. Now, getting pregnant out of wedlock was frowned upon in the 19th century. But getting impregnated by a "Yankee" was earth-shattering.

    She decided to keep it secret as long as she could, before her and her lover would run off. She wouldn't mind running away, for her father was abusive, especially after the death of her mother. He became suspicious after noticing his daughter spending a considerable amount of time away from the house.

    One day, he trailed his daughter to the pulpit. When he arrived, he was horrified to find the Union soldier there with his arms wrapped around his daughter. Shocked and extremely nervous, the girl told her father she was going to marry her lover and that she would soon be the mother of his child.

    In a rage of fury, the father pulled out a large knife and killed the soldier. The girl screamed in agony but was soon silenced by the same blade. The father disappeared, and no one ever saw him again. Afterwards, the locals named these infamous rocks "Devil's Pulpit" because of the transgressions that took place there.

    Whether or not if this is true, we may never know.  But it does provide a good reason as to why this place is known as "Devil's Pulpit".

    Location of Devil's Pulpit

    Today, the pulpit provides a beautiful setting with ferns and moss-covered rocks and trees as far as the eye can see. It is located at 36.5585143, -88.1682928 in the woods off Deerberry Lane.  It is located on private property;  at the time, we thought it was on government property since it was very close to a wildlife refuge and property owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

    This article originally appeared in the print edition of Four Rivers Explorer in 2007.


    Long Creek National Recreation Trail

    The Long Creek National Recreation Trail, located very near and in between Honker and Hematite Lakes, is paved and handicapped-accessible. This trail is ideal for individuals who use wheelchairs or have a tough time getting around.

    The trail is very scenic. It has a printed guide at the trailhead so users can spot and distinguish different types of habitat along the way. At only two-tenths of a mile and completely flat, anyone can enjoy a taste of this environment.

    The back of the trail is a loop that parallels Long Creek, the stream that empties Hematite Lake. The "right-of-way" along the trail is mowed and maintained, so users have an opportunity to explore some of the area around the creek. As we were walking toward the creek, we spotted a gorgeous Green Snake Rough. These insect-eaters are completely harmless and can be handled, but we didn't bother and let him on his way.

    Beautiful, harmless green snake seen along the trail.

    Walking further around the loop we saw movement in the grass and heard a "plop" in the water nearby - another snake, but we didn't see what kind it was. At this point, we had seen three snakes in the last 15 minutes, so we decided to be on the lookout. We aren't "herpers" and have no experience with snakes.

    Not 25 feet further, I spotted a five-foot long Black Racer. This one startled me because of his size. He didn't move or seem bothered by us as we walked on with a careful eye on the critter.

    After the loop, we headed back down the trail to the car. It was a great little hike that netted us some awesome wildlife viewing. However, if you don't like snakes, you probably don't want to take this trail. Chances are you'll spot one or two, or even four!  Maybe check it out in the winter?


    Cerulean Springs

    It took a little while to find the location of the spring.

    We recently visited the site of Cerulean Springs in Trigg County, Kentucky.  The natural phenomena of the spring's color and the history surrounding it are quite interesting.


    Discoveries While Exploring The Shorelines of Lake Barkley

    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.