Tag Archives: Lyon Co. KY

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

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.

Eddyville, Kentucky

Eddyville, Kentucky’s history is rather unique.  Not many towns of 2,500 residents can claim as many milestones (both bad and good) as Eddyville.

The town is presently located along US 62 & US 641 just south of Interstates 24 & 69 in Lyon County, Kentucky.  But today’s Eddyville wasn’t there 60 years ago.

Continue reading Eddyville, Kentucky

Old Maps Overlaying Today’s Reveal Big Changes

The United States Geological Survey has a great online mapping feature that is quite addicting and can suck you in for a while.

Continue reading Old Maps Overlaying Today’s Reveal Big Changes

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.

Exploring The Ruins Of Old Kuttawa

Kuttawa, KY
The breaker wall which lies on top of old US 62/641 and the Illinois Central Railroad

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.

Continue reading Exploring The Ruins Of Old Kuttawa

Center Furnace in Land Between The Lakes

In the mid-1800s, the iron ore industry exploded in the area known as “Between the Rivers.”  With its prime location due to its close proximity to the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, the industry flourished.  These rivers were the best way to transport goods since railroads did not exist in this area at that time.

Continue reading Center Furnace in Land Between The Lakes

Honker Lake in Land Between The Lakes

It’s no secret that Land Between The Lakes (LBL) is an adventurer’s playground.  Opportunities for hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, camping and exploring abound.  Honker Lake is one of the most scenic spots in LBL, offering beautiful views year around and chances to see the area’s abundant wildlife.

Continue reading Honker Lake in Land Between The Lakes

Barkley Dam Historical Photos

We can’t get enough of historical photos, especially those that show such drastic change.  Recently we found these photos on the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Flickr album.  We selected three of our favorites, but you can see the entire album on their Flickr.

Continue reading Barkley Dam Historical Photos