Tag Archives: LBL

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?

Submerged Energy Lake Bridge

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.

Sometimes I waste time browsing satellite maps of the lakes and surrounding area.  I’ll educate myself with seemingly useless information, but sometimes I’ll find something that I have to go see for myself.  One day I spotted a bridge that appeared in the waters of Energy Lake.

The old Kentucky 289 bridge, typically underwater, on Lake Barkley.

During summer pool the bridge is covered by water.  Two signs posted on the bridge warn boaters of the potential hazard.  Believe me, if the signs weren’t there and your boat ran over the concrete structure, you would be in trouble.  We went out to the mouth of Energy Lake (Crooked Creek Bay) at the end of LBL Road 154 (by the way, there are a ton of backcountry camping opportunities around this area).  At the end of the road, there it was… about 100 feet from the shoreline.

The bridge is about 160 feet long, one-lane and is made entirely of concrete.  I suppose it is a fish attractor because there were several anglers out there fishing around the bridge.  The structure used to be a part of Kentucky 289, a state-road that paralleled Lake Barkley prior to the creation of the lake in the early 1960s

The old Kentucky 289 bridge, typically underwater, on Lake Barkley.

Location of the Old Bridge

Silo Overlook in Land Between The Lakes

This was the former Silo Overlook while still in operation. Thanks to Bryan for sharing.

Prior to the Land Between The Lakes being taken over the by US Forest Service from TVA, one of the more popular attractions in the park was Silo Overlook.  It was located on the shores of Lake Barkley near Honker Lake at the end of Mulberry Flat Road (GPS 36.908W, 88.016N).

The structure was an abandoned silo that rises about 40 feet from the ground.  It was converted into an overlook with a wooden incline built to the top.  Folks could walk up the top of the silo for beautiful views of Lake Barkley.

Sometime in the late 1990s, or perhaps during the Forest Service/TVA transfer, Silo Overlook was abandoned.  We aren’t sure why but can speculate that is was for safety and liability reasons.  The access road has been barricaded and closed to vehicular traffic, but you can walk down the old road to the remains of Silo Overlook.

The first portion of the walkway/incline has been removed to keep people off of the silo.  The rest of it is in terrible condition with all the wood deteriorating.  Extensive renovations would be needed if Silo Overlook were to ever open again.

While there, we also explored the shoreline of Lake Barkley and took some photos of some interesting objects.  As always, if you can provide any insight into these objects or the silo (especially if you have old photos of Silo Overlook open), please share them with us by emailing info@explorekentuckylake.com.  We’ll credit you on this page with any information provided.

Thanks to Bryan for the photo at the top showing Silo Overlook’s glory days.  The remaining photos shown here are from our trip in November 2008.

The old Silo Overlook.
The old Silo Overlook.
Looking up at the old silo.
Wood is deteriorating at Silo Overlook.
What would have been the view, but has since grown up quite a bit.
The old Silo Overlook.
Navigation marker.
Walking along the shores of Lake Barkley near Silo Overlook.
An old pipe, surely abandoned, comes out from the banks of Lake Barkley and disappears into the waters.
From the shores of Lake Barkley, what appears to be an old wheel sticking up out of the water.
The old parking lot at Silo Overlook.
The barricade across the access road to Silo Overlook.

Vampire Hotel in Land Between The Lakes

The only photo we have been able to come across of the “Vampire Hotel” in LBL. If you have some photos of the original structure, please share them with us!

“Vampire Hotel” (moniker) is an abandoned structure near Kentucky Lake in the Land Between The Lakes.  The stone and concrete structure was partially torn down in the 1960s with the creation of LBL but part of it remained.  It was one of just a handful of remaining structures in LBL not completely removed.  Throughout the 1990s, it had become a popular hangout spot with locals – some of whom were less than reputable.

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Ghost Stories & The Paranormal of LBL

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.

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Great Western Iron Furnace

The Great Western Iron Furnace.

The remains of this limestone slab furnace are all that is left of The Great Western Iron Works. Great Western opened in 1855 and in a 34-week period produced 1,350 tons of iron. The production of high-quality iron required twenty bushels of charcoal, 800 pounds of ore, and 80 pounds of limestone.

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St. Stephen’s Church in Land Between The Lakes

St. Stephen’s Church in Land Between The Lakes is historically significant because it is only one of a handful of the known original remaining buildings in LBL. The church was built in 1900 by German Americans seeking a place to worship. The final service was held in 1945. For the next 18 years, the church sat vacant next to the church’s cemetery.

Why The Building Remains is a Mystery

In 1963, when TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) began acquisition of land between Kentucky Lake and the soon-to-be Lake Barkley (completed the following year) for the creation of LBL, the church was completely overlooked. Why? We aren’t sure, but one of our theories is that the access road to the church from Kentucky 289 was flooded when Lake Barkley was created.

This USGS topo map from the 1950s shows the former access road from Kentucky 289 before Lake Barkley was created.

Kentucky 289 and most of the church’s original access road is now underwater and pretty much destroyed. However, a cemetery resides there next to the church, a cemetery that people would surely not forget about; so our theory may not hold water.

However, one way we can back our theory is by the maps shown here. Today, LBL Road #415 (which was created after LBL’s inception) is the new access point to the church and cemetery.

Restoration

The church wasn’t forgotten by everyone. In 2000, a group known as “Between the Rivers, Inc.” requested permission and was approved by U.S. Forest Service to restore the old church. It was done after nearly 4,000 hours of man labor.

The drive down LBL Road #415 is very interesting, too. It is a very windy, hilly, one-lane gravel road that could be, at times, impassible. You probably don’t want to take a Lexus down the road, but most of the time most vehicles can get there. The road is about two miles long and is accessible by taking Old Ferry Road (LBL Road #117, Old Kentucky 58) to LBL Road #122. If you blink, you’ll miss it, but it is a fun road trip to take. When you get there, you will certainly appreciate the church and the effort put into it, as well as the historical significance of the 120-year-old structure.

The Homeplace 1850s Living History Farm & Museum

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.

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The Last Resident of Land Between The Lakes

Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area was once home to over 2,000 families and several small tight-knit communities. The Tennessee Valley Authority took over the vast 170,000-acre peninsula between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in the 1960s. TVA purchased the land from the families and many of them found new homes in nearby communities.

One resident, however, refused to move.

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Old School Bus in Land Between The Lakes

A few weeks ago, Lisa Trimble, a Facebook fan of Four Rivers Explorer, sent me a photo of an old abandoned school bus in Land Between The Lakes.

I asked Lisa regarding the whereabouts of the bus and she gave me some good information on how to find it. The location is a popular hunt for geocachers and actually has a name on geocaching.com – Homer’s Garage.

The remains of a foundation which could have been Mr. Ray’s garage.

Finding skeletal remains of civilization in Land Between The Lakes isn’t rare.  However, a stripped down school bus is a one-of-a-kind discovery.  Despite the fact that the old bus is odd and usual, it’s history is not much of a mystery.

According to geocaching.com, the name Homer’s Garage comes from Homer Ray, a former resident of Land Between The Lakes before it became a national recreation area. Mr. Ray owned Ray’s Garage, a shop located where the remains of the bus is today.

Mr. Ray was one of the last people to leave Land Between The Lakes in 1969.  He relocated to Eddyville and operated a garage there until his death in 1981.

Much of the land surrounding the former site of Homer’s Garage was owned by his family.  Mr. Ray’s father, Cordie, operated the Kuttawa Ferry across the Cumberland River.  Ray and many of his family members are buried in Sardis Cemetery in Land Between The Lakes.

About The Old Bus

Trees are beginning to grow around and into the bus which has been sitting in the same spot for around 50 years.

I am not an expert at identifying old cars, let alone a bus that is 60 years old. It appears to have belonged to the Lyon County School District; you can see faint lettering on the bus reading “Lyon County”.

It also appeared to seat 32 people, with eight seats on each side of the bus.  It’s been striped of virtually everything, leaving only the shell. If you think you know what year, make and model of the bus is, feel free to comment or email me.

Find The Bus

Getting to the bus is not difficult.  It is located in northern Land Between The Lakes.  From the Trace, take Old Ferry Road and go about 6.5 miles to LBL Road #126.  Take that road and travel about a half mile until LBL Road #126 splits into #127.  You’re in the general area.

Find a place to park on the side of the road . There is an old driveway with a mound of dirt and gravel near a modern road sign.  Take this path and head into the woods about 500 feet or so.  You’ll see the bus in front of you. The bus can be spotted from #126 in the winter months.

As always, leave no trace! In the warm months, make sure you watch where you step and check yourself for ticks.

There is a geocache at this site. You can get GPS coordinates for Homer’s Garage at geocaching.com.

More Photos of the Old Bus

Here’s some pics I took of the old bus.