Nashville Nights

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventures.

La Salle here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II. Click on this link to see the day- to-day travel log.

I would also like to welcome the crew of Moon Shadow aboard as fellow adventurers and voyagers.  They are cruising the loop in a 1997 Mainship Trawler.  Welcome aboard and hope to meet you on the water!

The week was spent making the 160 mile run up the Cumberland River to Nashville, Tennessee.  Then beginning the return trip to Green Turtle Bay by stopping in Clarksville.

The Cumberland River may not be one of America’s, biggest rivers, but it certainly has had a big impact on the nation’s history.

Shore line of the Cumberland River


The navigable waters start at the Ohio River and run for 381 miles to the small town of Celina, TN.  The river actually carries on for another 350 miles past Celina.

The Cumberland River first served as a passage way through the Appalachian Mountains and then as a stream of commerce.  In the years before the Civil War, there were 340 steamships that carried cargo and passengers up and down the river.

After the war, 26 steamboats continued to run cargo and people on the river.  In 1887 a plan was developed to reduce the hazards on the river because of a few dangerous places that caused both loss of life and loss of ships.  Eventually 15 locks and dams were built to calm the river.  As modern ships replaced the steamships requiring both more depth and width in the locks, the old locks were replaced with four new locks and dams.  Two above and two below Nashville.

Today, the river still is an industrial artery for the nation’s commerce, but it also provides hydro-electric power, flood control, and recreation for people such as our crew.

Tuesday, October, 4, 2016

The crew left Green Turtle Bay and headed out into Lake Barkley.  The crew will actually follow the old river channel in the lake up to mile 148 where they will encounter the next dam and lock.  Though the lake is 2 miles wide at this point, most of the water is extremely shallow out of the river channel.  The fall draw down of the lake water level has also begun.  The water looks to be about 3 feet below normal summer pool level.

The Castle on the Cumberland

The first major landmark along the river was the Kentucky State Penitentiary.  The main building was completed back in 1888.  Kentucky imported 30 Italian stonemasons to work on the building.  The building has the nickname of “The Castle on the Cumberland.”  So, if you would like to live in a castle, come to Kentucky and commit a major crime.  I am sure they would be glad to house you in their only maximum security prison.  But buyer beware, this place also holds the record for the most legal executions in one day, set back on Friday, July 13th, 1928, when seven men met sparky, the electric chair.


White Pelicans enjoying a sand bar


Finally, at about mile 70, the lake changed to look more like a river.  The area is referred to as the “Thousand Islands” due to all the sandbars that stick up out of the water.  Then just a mere four miles further, the crew entered Tennessee.

The Volunteer State


When the crew came around a bend in the river at mile 86, they noticed a battery of cannons pointed at them.  This was Fort Donelson, the site of the first major victory for the North in the Civil War, and the beginning of the end for the South.  The battle took place on February 14, 1862 and eventually resulted in the surrender of 13,000 Confederate Troops.


The surrender took place on February 26, 1862 in the Dover Hotel. General Grant accepted the unconditional surrender of Confederate General Simon B. Buckner.  Interesting enough, this was the one and only unconditional surrender by a large army during the war.

The crew soon passed  Dover on the river and then continued up-river to anchor for the night behind Dover Island.

Dover Island Anchorage


Wednesday, October, 5, 2016

These guys passed the crew on Tuesday.  The crew found them working on Wednesday morning replacing navigational aids


After weighing anchor in the morning, the crew cruised a more scenic peaceful river until a few large stacks dominated the horizon.  The 1,000 foot stacks belong to the TVA Cumberland steam plant.  When the construction crews were excavating the foundation of the plant they found evidence from a meteorite.  Scientist believe that a 20 mile wide meteor struck the earth in the vicinity.


After passing through the town of Clarksville, the crew arrived at the Cheatam Lock and Dam.  After clearing the Lock, the river passed through a waterfowl refuge.  The crew saw many birds in this area.

Entering Cheatam Lock for a 26 foot lift


As the sun began to drop in the late afternoon the crew pulled up a mile into the Harpeth River to drop the anchor for the night.

Tonight’s water view in the Harpeth River


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Travelling the Cumberland River in the fog


The crew wanted to get an early start so that they would arrive around noon in Nashville.  But as boating is teaching the crew, their plans do not always take shape.  With the warm water and cool fall night, there was a heavy fog in the morning.  The crew waited until they had about a mile visibility before heading out of the Harpeth River and into the Cumberland River.  The idea of rounding a bend and finding a down bound tow did not seem worth the effort to travel in the fog.

Better view without the fog


Along the river from here to Nashville there were many freight terminals working with such materials as grain, gravel, cement, petroleum, coal, and scrap metal.

Look closely.  That is a Bobcat attached to the bucket.  They put the Bobcat down in the barge to get every last little bit of material.  The crew passed by as they were pulling the Bobcat out of the barge.


At mile 182 on the river the crew passed under the Andrew B. Gibson bridge for Tenn I55.  The parkway encircles Nashville at a radius of about 5 miles from downtown.  However, by boat it is another 10 miles to the downtown docks due to the winding and twisting of the Cumberland River.

5 by land – 10 by river


The first white men to come to this area were my fellow French Fur Traders, but James Robertson and John Donelson are the folks credited for starting the town of Nashville.  James Robertson led a group of men, boys, and livestock overland to the banks of the Cumberland from the Carolinas.  The men arrived on Christmas 1779 and began to build shelters.  John Donelson, who arrived in the spring of 1780, took the wives and children of the men on 30 boats on a 1,000 mile journey up the Tennessee River, Ohio River, and then the Cumberland River to the site on the west bank where the men had started to build a fort.

Founding Father Statue


The little fort was renamed Nashville in 1784.  In 1843, the state capital was moved from Knoxville to Nashville.  During the Civil War, Nashville’s strategic location on the river and railroad links to towns further south, made it a natural target for the North.  After Fort Donelson fell protecting the river route to town, Nashville fell to the North and remained occupied for the three remaining years of the war.

The view from Still Waters II on the east shore


After the war years, Nashville prospered.  By the 1920’s the town was linked to country music and by the 1950’s every major record label had offices in the city.  America’s longest running radio show, WSM’s Grand Ole Opry, started in one of these studios in 1925.  Moved to the Ryman Auditorium in 1941, and has been in its new home near the Opry Land Hotel since 1974.

Larry Gatlin at the Ryman Auditorium



Night Life in Nashville


Friday, October 7, 2016

This was a shore excursion day for the crew.  The skipper loves him some hamburgers, and there is a Five Guys Burger and Fries only 1.8 miles from the boat.  The Admiral and skipper set out on foot to enjoy a burger for lunch.  It had been back in June since they had a Five Guys Burger, and well, that is just too loooooong.

After satisfying their burger craze, they headed over to Vanderbilt University to explore the campus.  The 330 acre campus is actually a national arboretum and features over 300 different species of trees and shrubs.

The stone column is all that remains from the original main entrance to campus


The crew then headed back towards the downtown area.  When they arrived at the visitor center, they ran into a policeman who came up and introduced himself. The officer asked where the crew was from and welcomed them to his fine city.  During the conversation, the skipper asked the officer where the best ice cream in town could be found.  Without hesitation, the officer said Mike’s and gave directions.

The Admiral and skipper found Mike’, and both had the banana pudding ice cream.  It was delicious.

Budding Artist at the Art Museum


Cornerstone laid in 1830


The crew wandered around town a little longer and then headed back to the boat to sit on the dock and listen to the country music flow across the river.

The Admiral found this guy and wandered over for a closer look.  Wish the skipper would have caught her shock when the snowman moved


Saturday, October 8, 2016

The crew shoved off from the dock and headed back down river with the current with the goal of making Clarksville.  Though they made the marina before dark, it was with only about 30 minutes left of light for the day.

The skipper spotted this flag on an up bound tow


The tug’s home port is Houston, TX


When the crew arrived at the Cheatam Lock and Dam, there was an up bound tow in the lock.  The tow was pushing a 3 x 5 set of barges.  The lock was not long enough to get all the barges through with one lift so the tow had to untie the barges and put them through in two chunks.  After the first set of barges were through the lock, they were made fast on the wall.

The crew prefers to meet this size tug


The tug then went down and retrieved the remaining barges and locked up.  Then the tug crew had to tie and make fast before the tow could clear the lock.

Our crew arrived when the first set of barges were locked up and the tug was headed back down.  The crew dropped the anchor and waited two hours before the evolution was complete and the tow passed the crew.  After the tow passed, the lock master gave our crew the green light to enter the lock and make the 26 foot drop back down to the Barkley Lake level.

Interesting engineering solution to a boat launch problem


With 25 miles to travel to the marina it was a good thing the current was providing a nice push down river.  The crew arrived at 1800 with an 1820 sunset.

Next Week – The crew will continue their return to Green Turtle Bay on the Cumberland.  They then plan to cross over into Kentucky Lake and continue the loop south on the Tennessee River.

Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

La Salle

In the 60’s, Six Flags Over Texas opened with the famed LaSalle River Adventure.  The skipper was a young boy when this park opened and his family visited every season.  I can recall watching the young skipper dive for the bottom of the boat every time we approached the cannon fire of the Spanish Fort.

I was a bit surprised when Eric told me that our skipper was going to even try to cruise down the Mississippi River.  I took this assignment just to see if his fears of cannon fire had subsided.  I did get a good chuckle when the crew rounded that bend on the Cumberland and the skipper was facing the cannons.  I sure wish one of them would have fired.  You would find me still laughing at the skipper.

Since we did make it safely down the Mississippi, I thought I would share the virtual ride back in the day.  Click on the link to take the river boat ride.  The cannon fire starts about three minutes into the video.  Enjoy.



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