For those on the Great Loop, cruising the Cumberland River is a side trip, in that it is a dead end. Traveling up the Cumberland River requires one to travel back down the river to then join the Tennessee River and continue on the Loop.
The Cumberland River begins in Kentucky, flows westward through Tennessee, then turns north back through Kentucky, emptying into the Ohio River upstream from Paducah, KY.
Cruising upriver from the Ohio, boats are lifted 57' by the Barkley Lock. It is the first of a series of locks that provide deep water for navigation and water-generated power.
One sight along the river, not far from Barkley Dam, is KSP, Kentucky State Penitentiary. Built in the late 1880's, by Italian stonemasons, it resembles a castle more than a prison. It is known as "The Castle on the Cumberland".
The river shores are mostly undeveloped. Miles and miles can be traveled without seeing anything but nature - flora and fauna abound.
More Blue Herons were observed between Barkley Lock and Nashville than in any waterway along the Loop.
Ospreys, which seemed to be nonexistent on the Illinois, Mississippi, and Ohio Rivers, displayed themselves along the Cumberland.
Remember those White Pelicans that were heading south on the Illinois River? Well, they make a stopover on their journey south on the Cumberland River. Last Dance is traveling at a pelican's pace.
Fall continues to follow Last Dance down the rivers. The leaves were displaying their colors along the Cumberland.
The geology of the river is beautiful, interesting, and sometimes puzzling. Much of the river has one bank lined with high cliffs, the other is low flatlands. This changes from the left side, to the right side, and back again in the space of a few miles.
|Entering the Harpeth River, Late Afternoon|
There are few tributaries and coves off the Cumberland to provide the secluded, quiet anchorages preferred by the Last Dance crew, but the ones that are available are lovely. The first stop back downriver from Nashville was a spot a mile up the Harpeth River. Tree-lined banks, quiet waters, sounds of nature, all added to this enjoyable spot.
|Leaving the Harpeth River, Early Morning|
Waterways were the transportation means during the development of the United States. Because of the transportation and commerce, cities grew up along the rivers. But, not the Cumberland. The natural shorelines are rarely adorned with structures and only two cities are along its shores, Nashville and Clarksville.
One of Clarksville's claim to fame is that it is the hometown of Olympic Champion Wilma Rudolf. She is memorialized with a statue in the riverfront park. Down the hill, far below, is the city dock. A measure of the 2011 spring floods is that the water level came to Wilma's ankles.
They are big on statues in this city. The one at left commemorates the day tornadoes screamed through the downtown, damaging many historic buildings. Clarksville is justifiably proud of the rebuilding accomplishments and resulting comfort and beauty of the downtown area.
The old post office is a collection of architectural styles. This has to be a one of a kind building and certainly no other post office in the country shared even similar style. It now serves as a museum.
The accomplishments of humans upon the land is enticing, but the beauty of the Cumberland River was there millions of years earlier and is still existing there in all its unspoiled majesty, best viewed from the waterway.