July 31, 2014

The Land Between The Lakes...

Yesterday, we made our way from Champaign, Illinois to Buffalo, Tennessee.
We decided that we'd take in a little scenery off the Interstates and drive the
Woodlands Trace National Scenic Byway, also known as
"The Land Between The Lakes" between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

This route spans approximately 50 miles and runs through both Kentucky and
Tennessee. While we stayed mainly on the highway, there are many things to
explore along the way. They are over 300 miles of natural shoreline, 200 miles
of paved roads, 500 miles of trails and 170,000 acres of forest and open lands.

There are also public camping facilities, horseback riding and environmental
education programs throughout this National Recreation Area. The only homes
 you'll find within the park are located on the very south end of the trace. The
rest were bought (or acquired through "eminent domain") by the Federal 
government during the Kennedy administration in the 1960s.

Handsome and I stopped at the Golden Pond Visitor Center (located about half
way through our route) to go through their educational exhibits and planetarium. 
We also toured the grounds to see their wildlife exhibits and wildflower gardens.

We saw many cemetery signs, so when we were at the Visitor Center, I asked 
the gentleman working behind the counter about them. He told me that there
are over two hundred cemeteries on the route. Prior to the 1960s, there were
many people who lived in the area, but they were either bought or forced out 
by the government. While people were no longer allowed to live in the area, 
their dead were permitted to stay. He told me that later on, contemporary 
family members were allowed to be buried in their family plots. Therefore, 
one visiting any of the local cemeteries might find headstones with
current dates intermingled with those from as far back as the 1700s. 
One of the storyboards that particularly caught my attention was about the
"Trail of Tears". You can click on this image to read the story for yourself, but
it is sad, indeed. I think of the harsh and cruel way our government treated the
Native Americans (particularly, in this story, the Cherokee Nation) and I wish
they had treated all Indian nations in the way they deserved to be treated: as
the owners of their ancestral lands and homes. They deserved more respect.
As we neared the 3/4 mark on our route, we saw this structure near the road.
We pulled into the parking area to learn more about its purpose and history.
In this instance, photographs can better tell the story than I.
I was surprised to learn that there had once been a structure at the top of the
furnace. (By the way, we did see another furnace structure within twenty miles
of leaving the Trace. It wasn't nearly as well-kept as this one, and looked unstable.)
  This is a better view of the entire structure as we viewed it. At the base,
the interior stonework stops, leaving an opening for the insertion and 
removal of the sand castings that would catch the molten ore.
Of course, Handsome took a picture of me so you'd know we were actually
there! (I insisted that it was mostly so you'd see the scale of the furnace.)  
 
While we drove, we saw many (shy and quick) deer and turkeys. After 
taking lots of blurry photographs, I finally gave up and just enjoyed the view. 
If you ever find yourself in this part of the country, I strongly suggest allowing 
a few days from your travels to camp, swim, and stop at all the sights along 
the way. There's a lot to be learned on this short drive through history.

We stopped for the night at a KOA in Buffalo, Tennessee (located west and
a little south of Nashville). Today, we'll have an easy drive to Clanton, AL.
More on our adventures tomorrow!
DonnaAcornSignature

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