"The Great Horseshoe"
Launch: Lakepoint Resort State Park has three launch ramps with a small fee.
-----"Try the Cajun Corner," Bevie at the Sports Center recommended. "You'll like the New Orleans food -- and it's not too hot," she quickly added. It wasn't. The crawfish etouffeé, shrimp salad with ravigote dressing, and the Northshore Pasta with andouille sausage, crawfish, and shrimp would have made Louisiana proud.
-----We were in Eufaula to service engines and provision for the trip we had planned. I was so excited about the length of the journey, I had my hair cut at the Bluff City Barber shop. However, we were not so impatient as to miss the marvel of Eufaula in spring. The town, built on the bluffs over the Chattahoochee River and on the site of a former Creek village, is one of the beauties of Alabama. Brilliant azaleas and dogwoods bloomed along the broad avenues. The finest of a bygone era line the streets - Greek Revival cottages to Italianate grandeur. This aristocratic river town preserves its 19th Century history. Visit the town in early April to take part in the Pilgrimage, Alabama's oldest Tour of Homes.
Memorial to the Fallen in the War Between the States
-----------The Tavern - 1836 Inn for river travelers Kendall Manor - 1860's Italianate
-----On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomatox. Twenty days later, Union Officer Benjamin Grierson, with 4,000 cavalry was approaching Eufaula. He had not heard the War was over. Under a flag of truce, representatives of the town rode out to meet Grierson to inform him of Lee's surrender. The town was thus spared from the certain ravages of the Union Army.
Shorter Mansion - 1884 Neo Classical Revival Azaleas
Town Jail Local Industry
-----We enjoyed the beauties of Eufaula and it's fine eating places, but it was time to get back on the water. We had completed three of Alabama's six navigable rivers, the Tennessee, Tombigbee, and Black Warrior. There were three to go -- the Chattahoochee, Mobile, and Alabama Rivers. We examined the charts that our 'Bama C-Dory friend, Pat, had loaned us. It quickly became evident that there was a marvelous possibility.
-----The eastern river, the Chattahoochee, was the northern extension of the Corps of Engineers' ACF Waterway. By cruising down the Chattahoochee, we had access to go up the Flint River into Georgia. Below the junction of the Flint and Chattahoochee, the river was called the Apalachicola and continued southerly across the Florida Panhandle into the Gulf of Mexico. There were three lock and dams that controlled the river levels.
-----When we reached the Gulf, we could hook a hard turn to starb'd into the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The GIWW is our old friend. We had cruised it along the entire Gulf from Mexico to Florida. Traveling westerly along the GIWW, we would come to Mobile Bay. If we went northerly up the Bay, and through the town of Mobile, we would meet the Mobile River. Almost 50 miles above Mobile, the Alabama River flows into the Mobile. We could take the right fork and continue all the way up to Montgomery, AL. The whole trip looked to be about 800 nautical miles and we would end up only 100 miles away from our starting point.
-----"It's almost a circum-navigation," El observed. "Let's call in The Great Horseshoe."
-----And so we did.
-----"What a marvelous cruise," El continued enthusiastically, "- southerly along the Georgia-Alabama border, then to salt water and seafood, and finally north through Mobile and the wilds of the Alabama River. Let's do it!"
-----"I don't know, hon," said the conservative one. "The water connects but will there be fuel stops for us? It looks pretty wild and lonely. We've never heard of anyone doing it and there might be a good reason."
-----"Let's check," came the quick response.
-----We did, and found there would be no problem along the eastern and southern portions of The Horseshoe. The western arm looked iffy. From Mobile to Sand Creek Marina on the Alabama, a distance of about 170 miles, there was no obvious place to find gas.
-----Quinby's Guide, however, gave several 'phone numbers to call along that route to contact folks who would deliver gas. Pat volunteered to drive us back to the truck and trailer from Montgomery so the circumnavigation looked complete.
-----"We're off," said El, and the next day we launched at Lakepoint State Park.
The Chattahoochee River -- Dusk and Dawn
-----The Eufaula library generously allowed us to check out a book on the history of the lower Chattahoochee and it was marvelous to read the tales of the past along this historic waterway. For thousands of years, the area was heavily settled by Archaic Indians and then the more sedentary Creek Indians built villages and tilled fields along the river's banks. The Spanish, French, British and Americans vied with the Native Americans for the land and river access. Not long after the Revolution, the land belonged to Americans and the Creek were forced to walk westerly on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma. Cotton reigned and steamships plied the waters. The big houses of Eufaula and others along the waterway were built by wealthy landowners.
Then and Now
-----After the Civil War, and the freeing of the slaves, cotton was no longer economical and the great plantations withered. Much of the land returned to wild forest and swamp. Railroads and then highways replaced the river for transporting goods and people, and the river became, once again, the domain of the ospreys and alligators. Much of it is wild and natural today.
Dawn in Uchee Creek and Lunch Stop on Lake Seminole
-----There are some big dams to navigate past, using the Corps locks. These were built to reopen a water transport system to Columbus, GA but it has been years since the last barge came up this way. We pondered the taxpayer expense of maintaining locks and their crews for the odd pleasure boat that travels the river. We didn't see any boats other than small fishing boats during our journey on this Waterway, and they rarely use the locks.
---- In the picture to the left, the dark spot on the rightmost part of the lock door, just above where the sun slants across the door, is the lock tender. Sure gives a scale to the size of the lock. It's a mighty big drop down two of these locks.
-----It can be a little confusing along the Chattahoochee River. Eastern time lies along the east bank in Georgia, and it is Central time on the west bank in Alabama. Good to know when stopping for lunch or meeting locking hours at the dams. Even the names of the lakes are different depending on whether you are looking from the eastern or western shores. Alabaman's call the lake, here at Eufaula, Lake Eufaula. The charts call it Walter F. George Reservoir. But, time and names are human constructs -- the river flows regardless. Cardinals sing, Ospreys squeal, and ripples murmur to nature's rhythms as they have through the millennia.
The Sedimentary Remnants of the Appalachians The Tri-State Border
Moss-draped Banks of the Chattahoochee
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