Life in Christian County, Kentucky...
This picnic area in Land Between the Lakes (LBL) was beautiful in the sunlight this afternoon. Maybe the autumn foliage in this area is the reason that a little village near here was once called Golden Pond.
In 5th grade (1961-62?), we read in our Social Studies books about the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) bringing electricity to Kentucky and Tennessee. We didn't read about or think about the farms that were lost, the towns like Golden Pond that were torn down, or the people who were displaced by this project.
The LBL area went from private ownership to public land gradually. First, the TVA built a dam on the Tennessee River, and Kentucky Lake formed when the dam's was completed in 1944.
In 1959, the U.S. Corp of Engineers began construction of a dam on the Cumberland River to create a second lake. The Cumberland River runs nearly parallel to the Tennessee River. The area that would lie between the lakes, an 8-mile wide, 40-mile long strip, was designated a federal recreation area in 1964,. The dam on the Cumberland was completed in 1965, creating Lake Barkley. The Corp also built a canal at the north end of LBL that links the two lakes.
The village of Golden Pond was in the very heart of the condemned area between the lakes. Its 200 residents were moved out and the buildings were razed. Its name was made the address of LBL's visitors center -- Golden Pond, Kentucky, 42211-- but none of the facilities that are called "Golden Pond" are located in the original location of the village.
The nice picnic area in the photo above is the site of the Golden Pond historic marker. The Golden Pond Visitors Center holds an exhibit about the moonshine that was produced in the Golden Pond area during Prohibition. The Golden Pond Planetarium and Observatory is located nearby.
We went to the observatory and looked through the big telescope one night when we were camping at LBL several years ago. It's the only time I've ever looked through a telescope that I had to climb steps to get to. I saw with amazing clarity the immense craters on the surface of the moon. It was an awesome sight.
I don't personally know anyone whose land was taken away from them by the creation of LBL. I have heard about residents who fought bitterly to keep family lands and ancestral homes, and I have heard that they are still angry about their loss. I don't blame them.
I do realize though that the inexpensive electricity running through my home is provided by the TVA. I also know that many of my neighbors go regularly to LBL to fish nearly year-round. I think we're sorry about what was done to create LBL, but we do enjoy the benefits of living nearby.
Note: Land Between the Lakes is not in Christian County. It's about a half hour drive from the western border of Christian County.