Tennessee River Bluffs


Launch: Kentucky Dam Marina, Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park, Paducah, Kentucky. Steep ramp; use the left side facing the lake. Can short-term park in the lot; long term there is secured parking for a moderate fee.

Nearby campsites: A few miles away in the same State Resort Park, or The Land Between the Lakes.

Comments: This is a good starting place for the lakes and both rivers.


-----What a marvelous river. Broad, calm in the brisk cool morning of fall, and inviting. It is a tale better told with pictures than words:



-----The Tennessee River is a long and mighty river. During the dark days of the Great Depression, the federal government formed the Tennessee Valley Authority to develop the poverty-stricken valley. Nine dams and locks were constructed along its 650-mile length. Canals and power plants were also built to provide jobs and inexpensive power to develop industry. Those massive dams block the river today and force cruising boaters to take passage through nine high locks. It is a challenging experience.


-----The rivers of America were avenues of commerce in the early days of our history. What roads existed were quagmires of mud after rain and smothered with dust and rocks in the dry. Goods and people moved by water. Transportation was easy enough down the rivers, except in stretches of fast water or rapids. However, up river travel was difficult or impossible in the days of sail and paddle.

-----The invention of the steamboat was significant. The Tennessee River, stretching from the Appalachians to the Ohio, and via the Mississippi to the Gulf and the world became the 'four-lane' of its day. Steamboating was a dangerous trade. Shoals constantly shifted. Running aground would sink or, in the least, delay a passage. Logs, snags, stumps and sawyers holed vessels. Boilers often exploded with disastrous consequences. The wood or coal-stoked furnaces belched clouds of smoke laden with red-hot sparks. One spark falling on the cargo, often cotton or baled goods, and the boat was ablaze. Of the more than 400 steamboats on the Chattahoochee River, more than half sunk, burned or exploded within a few years. The 'bones' of steamboats and their crew litter all the great rivers of America.

Tennessee Bones


-----Red, brown, yellow and orange are the colors of fall. Here, in Tennessee, however, ORANGE is the only color of importance. We discovered this along the Tennessee.

-----We had just locked through Chickamauga dam and needed fuel. At Island Cove Marina we met a nice local couple who insisted that we would miss one of the great treats of the Tennessee River if we didn't stop at Pine Harbor for dinner. So, we put the location into our Chartplotter and headed on up the river.




-----As we approached Pine Harbor through the entrance channel, El checked out the dock through binoculars. "Looks like there might be a place to tie off on the port side of long pier. The starb'd side is covered and all slips."

-----I vectored us toward the pier. "Hey, there's a huge orange pom-pom at the end of the pier," El suddenly said. "And a bunch of folks there - some are in chairs, others on the bows of the houseboats at the slips … and they all seem to have drinks in their hands."

-----As we approached, the folks beckoned us in, waving orange pom-poms. They caught our lines and welcomed us to their party. "What are you celebrating?" El asked.


-----"You don't know?" was the immediate response. "Why, this is the BIG day - you mean, you really don't know?" We kinda felt like we had landed on another planet, and in truth, we had. "The VOLS are playing Kentucky! You really mean you don't know?"

-----We didn't know. "What are the Vols?" El innocently asked.

-----"Oh, my Lord. Give that gal a beer. The VOLS. You know - the VOLS! Why, they're the best ball team anywhere! Lordy, fetch a beer for her guy, too, will ya?"



-----We had landed in the middle of a tradition and didn't know it. Every weekend, the gang met on their houseboats and had a 'tailgate' party while they listened to the game. We were happily included into their celebration, especially since the Volunteers were behind when we landed and now they had scored another touchdown and were in the lead. "Must be you brought them luck," said the smiling lady Vol as she passed us another beer. After the Vols went on to victory, the gang tied a pom-pom to Halcyon's anchor light.

-----El and I finally broke off for dinner - best corn fritters ever, and my 'loaded' potato was fabulous - not to speak of the pork chops and rib eye. When we returned to the dock, our friends helped us into a covered slip that belonged to one of their absent company, and gave us both bright orange UT sweatshirts they had bought for us at WalMart while we ate.




-----At 0430 the next morning we were up to watch the Leonid meteor shower from the end of the dock. It was a beautiful display. The meteors streaked, maybe one or two a minute leaving long glowing tails. One was a bright blue-green and lasted for maybe five seconds, low on the western horizon, and looked like an airplane with landing lights on - except that it trailed a long line of sparks behind. Deb, the Vol Lady, joined us, bringing folding chairs. We tilted back, oohing, and aahing.

-----We shared a delicious breakfast on the houseboat of our new friends, and after much fanfare and waving of orange pom-poms, we headed out the channel out of Pine Harbor. A few days later, we cruised by the home of the Vols in Knoxville.


-----Every anchorage has its ambience. Little Paint Creek was spooky. There is a long somber ridge bounding the creek on one side and farmland with a few houses on the other. The hounds at the farmhouses bayed after sundown, setting off the coyotes howling. The canine chorus echoed off the ridge into the dark of the moon. We lay in our V-berth shivering.

-----We were off the hook early and soon lifting in the F. Loudon Lock. When we reached Knoxville, we tied off at the Volunteer Landing Marina. "Come for the Parade of Lights?" the dockmaster asked El.

-----"Sounds great," El responded.

-----"Your timing is perfect. We have free dockage for the Parade. Tie off under the shed. It might rain tonight. Be sure to eat at Calhoun's." The dockmaster is a friendly man with punctuated, to-the-point speech.

-----We did, it did, and we did. We tied, ate dinner at Calhoun's and had an outstanding meal, and we were under a tin shed roof when the rain began to fall. We put our deck chairs on the dock, tilted back, and watched an outstanding Parade of Lights.In a few days, we left the boat -- it was Christmas and time to be with family.


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