Monday, December 21, 2009

Following Verlen and Valerie-VIII-The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway

My seagull is going to fly up the Tennessee River from its mouth at Paducah to see what this new Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway is all about. But first there is Kentucky Dam which backs up Kentucky Lake....Kentucky Dam and Lake on the Tennessee River???? Go figure.....the lock is along the right bank.

Kentucky "Kentucky Dam creates the largest manmade lake in the eastern United States. It backs up the Tennessee River for 184 miles and creates a lake that stretches south across the western tip of Kentucky and nearly the entire width of covers 160,300 acres." ....It nearly wore my poor seagull out flying a lake that long.

The lake eventually narrows to river size and going up the river the Krugers would have encountered the Pickwick Dam. Just before that on the left bank is the site of the Battle of Shiloh, one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. I have been there and it is very sobering to contemplate what went on there. I don't know what the Krugers thought as they passed by or did they visit it? You might want to look it up.

The Pickwick Dam or Pickwick Landing Dam has a lock along the left bank and backs up the Tennessee into a reservoir called Pickwick Lake.

The Divide Cut is a 29 mile artificial canal between Pickwick Lake and Bay Springs Lake which, as the name would indicate, crosses the divide between the Mississippi River drainage basin and drainage to the Gulf of Mexico through Mobile Bay. This is the beginning of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

Valerie's words from the Newsletter of March 1987: "We have just completed paddling on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, a man-made 234 mile long, 9-foot-deep, 300-foot-wide transportation artery through west-central Alabama and northeastern Mississippi, connecting the Tennessee River with the Black Warrior-Tombigbee River Waterway.

On the Tenn-Tom...instead of portaging rapids and falls, we paddled our canoes into 11 locks that allowed us to be safely 'dropped' a total of 341 feet. Each lock is110 feet wide and 600 feet long, capable of accommodating a towboat and eight standard barges. When our 17-foot canoes entered the lock chamber we were treated with as much respect as 'the big guys' and certainly with much more interest...We first heard about the Tennessee-Tombigbee and the route it provides to the Gulf through a National Geographic article in 1986...The waterway is divided into three sections, the divide section, the canal section and the river, which provides a variety of scenery and a unique highway into the South.

We paddled past cotton fields and cypress groves, and areas where fishermen were dangling their lines and setting their nets for catfish. We also enjoyed the Tenn-Tom because it offered us a good downstream current..."

Verlen in the same newsletter: "...the Tenn-Tom (is) shorter and a better way South. It is more scenic and the water is cleaner than most other waterways. The people running the Tenn-Tom seem proud of it and intent on making it the showplace of barge canal systems. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next ten years".

Wikipedia: "During and after its construction, the $2 billion waterway was widely criticized as an example of excessive pork barrel spending."

I am flying down the waterway 22 1/2 years after the Krugers paddled down and it looks pretty neat yet. I would probably have to agree that it was a big pork barrel project. But not all pork is bad.

Next: Down the Tombigbee to Mobile and the Gulf

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