Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Grand River, Kentucky to Fort Donelson, Tennessee

Sat, Nov. 17th - Tue, Nov. 20th                                             Arriving in Grand River, Kentucky, the Lighthouse Marina. 
Across the road is Patti's 1880s Settlement, a sort of famous destination here in the "Land Between the Lakes".  The place normally just has an 1880s decor, but is decorated for Christmas for about three months each year.  There are nice walkways through the decorated courtyards, shops, minature golf, bumper boats and restaurant. 
This area was originally known as the "Land Between the Rivers" with the Cumberland and the Tennessee Rivers flowing northward side by side for 100 miles, and the narrowest piece of land separating them was just a mile across.  Both empty into the Ohio, which empties into the Mississippi.  Flooding and people losing their homes was a recurring problem until the Tennessee Valley Authority started flood control projects after the 1937 flood. 
Using the eminent domain law, the federal government moved  2,400 families from their homes between 1936 and 1939 to make room for TVA's Kentucky Lake.  1958-63 another 1,400 families were moved to make room for the Army Corps of Engineer's Lake Barkley.  1963-68 another 3,000 people were moved to make the LBL National Recreation Area.  Kentucky Dam brought electricity to the region and by 1966 both the dam and canal joining Kentucky Lake and the new Lake Barkley were complete.  The LBL National Recreation Area is now huge with lots of resorts and campgrounds. 
We had lunch one day at Patti's Settlement, because John just had to try their famous one pound, two inch thick pork chop.  I had a bite and it was really good.  I had a shrimp pasta something or other and it was also delicious.  And check out the meringues on their pies!  We came back a couple hours later and they were sold out. 
On Saturday night we went to their Christmas Musical Variety Show at the theater across the street.  It was very good, but I think their regular shows might be even better, with down home humor and country music. 
This map shows where we are.  Grand River and the Hillman Ferry Campground where stayed are just a short way above the "N" in Fort Donelson where the rivers meet.  The most unique industry to prosper "Between the Rivers" was whiskey making.  Early settlers from England, Scotland, Germany and Ireland brought closely guarded family recipes.  Corn whiskey making became a tradition and the last known active still was removed in the mid 1960s when the land was bought for the LBL National Recreation Area. 
This is a red wolf at the LBL Nature Preserve.  They were almost extinct at one time, with only 17 known left.  Now there are about 300, with 100 in the wild.  We saw a bobcat feeding while we were here.  He had been pacing back and forth in his pen for about an hour.  They brought out a rat and threw it over the top of his cage.  He grabbed it, went in his den and we never saw him again.  They don't feed them one day a week, because they would not always be able to find food in the wild, so they try to make it like nature.    Also, the frozen rats and mice are shipped in on dry ice by UPS or Fed Ex, and it didn't look like a regular rat.  It was kind of white with some little gray or tan on it, like a gerbel or guinea pig. They also had turkeys, several kinds of owls, vultures, bald eagles, deer, coyotes and a few snakes and turtles.  
Next we went to the "Homestead", a living history farm.   A young lady here was demonstrating rug making: braiding, hooking and crocheting.  There are over 200 family and church cemeteries in the "Land Between the Lakes" that are cleaned and maintained by volunteers.  I don't want anyone to have to take care of me after I'm dead.  Just throw my ashes to the wind and spend your time and money helping folks who are still alive! 
They had ducks, chickens, sheep, a horse, a mule, several cows and a couple of pigs.  In 1900 a farmer protected a flock of 8 turkeys that were thought to be the last in Kentucky.  By 1960 legal turkey hunting in the area was restored.  In early 1900s there were less than 1,000 deer in Kentucky, due to over hunting them for meat and hides and just killing them to keep them out of gardens and crops.  Now there are over one million. 
This young man was making a chain, welding the individual links and putting them together. 
Taking a nap in the shade with your special someone.  Does life get any better than that? 
Then we went to Fort Donelson Military Park, site of one of the less known, but very important battles of the Civil War.  This monument is for all the Confederate soldiers who were buried on the battlefield here. 
We are just heading out to hike the trails around the battlefield.  Grant was not a well-known officer before this battle.  Fort Henry on the Tenessee and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland were strategic strongholds for the south protecting main shipping routes by river and several railroads out of Nashville.  Grant sent several of the new ironclad ships to attack Fort Henry from the river while he came from the land.  The ships easily took the fort before Grant was even able to get there. 
The ships headed to Fort Donelson, but they were ready for them and beat them badly.  However, by that time, Grant had managed to surround the fort leaving them no escape route.  Some did manage to fight their way out or sneak out under cover of darkness, but most were forced to surrender.  General Grant and General Buckner were old friends who had gone to West Point together and fought in the Mexican American War together.  Buckner had even paid a hotel bill for Grant once, when he was short of cash. 
However, when Buckner asked Grant for terms of surrender, Grant replied, "No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted."  The North had won it's first great victory and gained a new hero, Ulysses "Unconditional Surrender" Grant, who was promoted to Major General.  Subsequent victories led to him becoming commander of all Union Armies and Lee's surrender at Appomattox helped put him in the White House.  They met here at the Dover Hotel on the Cumberland River to sign the surrender papers.  Grant's men had orders not to cheer and to treat the prisoners with respect.  13,000 men were shipped north to prison camps. 
After the war Grant and Buckner renewed the friendship.  Buckner became Governor of Kentucky and was a pall bearer at Grant's funeral. 
This is the Fort Donelson National Cemetery on the site of the Fort Donelson that was rebuilt by the Union.  There are 670 Union soldiers reburied here from the battlefield, plus some from WWI and II, Korea and Vietnam.  It is no longer an active cemetery.  By 1870, over 300,000 soldiers had been buried in 73 national cemeteries. located near camps and battlefields in the south.  By the end of the war 620,000 soldiers had died. 
When we left here, John said he had a surprise for me.  He was taking me to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris.......Paris, Tennessee, that is.  Not quite as good as the real thing, but still kind of pretty, especially at dark. 
I was biking the trails at our campground.  We were a couple weeks too late for the changing colors of the leaves, but it was still kind of pretty. 
The swimming beach at our campground at sunset.  
This guy's looking a little nervous,
and this guy's just trying to blend in with the leaves, I think.  We will be heading for Nashville on Wednesday.  Happy Turkey Day to everyone and may the forest be with you! 

No comments:

Post a Comment