We’ve always enjoyed experiencing and seeing the oddities of the Four Rivers region. That’s why this site, Four Rivers Explorer, exists. But before we began this site, we had a section of our main tourism site, Explore Kentucky Lake, that was dedicated to the unusual and lesser-known aspects of our area. We called the section “Explorations”.
Several years ago, we discovered a large concrete building in the middle of Kentucky Lake in Tennessee. We first wrote about the “big building in the middle of Kentucky Lake” back in 2002 on Explore Kentucky Lake’s now-defunct Explorations section. At the time we weren’t aware of what it was when we first saw it, so we did some research at the local Houston County Public Library in Erin, Tennessee.
It is known as the Old Danville Grain Elevator as well as the Danville Wharf and Danville Transfer Station. Located in Danville, Tennessee, It was built on the banks of the Tennessee River about 300 yards from the L&N Railroad in 1914. The purpose of the building was to transfer barges of grain and other goods from the river to railcars above.
It contained six levels with the bottom three being open for boats carrying cargo to unload their goods from the river. The lower levels accommodated the water level fluctuation of the river. Two twenty-horsepower elevators carried cargo from the lower levels to trains docked at the fourth level. Primary commodities were peanuts, grain, limestone, iron, and cotton.
It was in operation until the early 1940s when TVA began clearing out the area for the creation of Kentucky Lake. The lake would be created by building a large dam downstream at Grand Rivers, Kentucky. The waters would permanently rise 55 feet which would flood most of the building and the surrounding area.
Why TVA decided to leave this structure instead of tearing it down (like what they did with entire towns) is interesting. Some say it was meant as a channel marker. My thinking is it was just too costly to tear down, for it is a massive concrete structure.
Location of Structure
The transfer elevator is only accessible by water craft. We do not encourage anyone walking or exploring inside the structure.