A back-road in rural Todd County, Kentucky
|Rattlesnake Road, at|
its intersection with
Allegre Road (Hwy. 171)
I decided that I would like to travel Rattlesnake Road when the weather dried up, and I said as much to the visitor. He (or she) replied:
Oh...then just trust me, Rattlesnake Road looks just about like your Flat Rock Road. I mean, you don't have to GO THERE...Rattlesnakes...and all...
My only trip there was in the summer years ago, the creek was incredibly high and there was no safe way to have crossed it. There was a roadway to the water's edge (and through it I presume) and a roadway came out the other side.
You could not have paid me any amount of money to get out of my car. Just the thought of it even today gives me the heebie jeebies!
Those words convinced me that I had to visit Rattlesnake Road and see its creek ford with my own eyes.
The right day for Rattlesnake Road
Sunday afternoon, I decided that the creeks were surely dried up enough now for my adventure. Dennis was settled in for a long nap that looked it could be an all-nighter, so before I left, I posted a message about my destination on Facebook. I figured the clue would come in handy if I disappeared. Otherwise, no one would ever think to look for me on Rattlesnake Road!
View Larger Map. Just to the south of Rattlesnake Road is
Flat Rock Road, the subject of a previous post! Google has
misspelled Ovil Road -- it needs an "i", not an "a".
|Mount Tabor Baptist Church|
Mt. Tabor once may have had a school, a store, and/or a post office, but the Mt. Tabor Baptist church and cemetery are all that seem to remain. They sit directly across the highway from the Rattlesnake Road sign.
Farms and homes
I turned onto Rattlesnake Road and stopped to photograph its sign and the narrow strip of asphalt that led westward. Despite its exciting name, it looked much like hundreds of rural roads I've seen as I've zoomed along the highways of Kentucky.
Along the way, I passed about half a dozen houses. A couple of them were headquarters for farms. They were surrounded by barns and sheds, and the yards were full of farm equipment, parked in no particular order. Several of the houses looked like they had been farm houses previously, but maybe the people who lived there now were not farmers. A couple of the places were very neatly kept with American flags flying out front. One house was completely surrounded with broken-down cars and piles of rusty metal and trash. In short, the residences of Rattlesnake Road are the odd mix that one often finds along a rural Kentucky road.
Part of Rattlesnake Road runs along the top of a ridge. I could tell that there was a ravine below, but I couldn't see into it because of the foliage. I didn't feel like getting out of my car and trying to peer over the edge because, to be honest, I was afraid there might be a rattlesnake¹!
|A beautiful, peaceful valley|
The first stream crossing
|The bridge on Rattlesnake Road|
I wondered if this bridge might have taken the place of the ford on Rattlesnake Road. That was not the case! The stream ford was yet to come.
I consulted the map when I got home and learned that this little stream is a tributary of the Buck Fork of the Pond River. I also read a newspaper article from 2006 that described an emergency allocation of funds by Kentucky's Transportation Cabinet for "bridge repair work over Pond River on Rattlesnake Road, located 7.5 miles west of KY 171". This would seem to be that bridge.
Rattlesnake Road gets a little rougher
As I came out of that creek valley and over the next ridge, I noticed some large outcroppings of rock. This definitely looked like rattlesnake country to me -- quiet and remote, with ample rock for winter dens and for basking in the sunshine on early spring days.
By now, the blacktop road had changed to gravel, and it had been a while since I passed any houses. As I headed into the next valley, the road became very narrow indeed. In fact, I would not call it a gravel road any longer. It was a dirt road, and I didn't have to be an Indian scout to see that no one had driven there since the last sprinkle of rain, whenever that was.
Most sensible folks would have turned around at that point. My husband certainly would have insisted on turning around, had he been with me. I looked down the road as far as I could see. I didn't notice any deep ruts or protruding rocks that would "high-center" my car, so I decided to go on. I drove cautiously down a long, rather gentle descent, and at its bottom, I came at last to what I had really come to see.
The creek ford on Rattlesnake Road
|The ford includes a short drive down the stream bed.|
The ford was a bit intimidating, even though the water was shallow. I could understand why the commenter, quoted above, found it a memorable sight when the water was high. One must drive at the edge of the stream bed for about 50 or 60 feet, then turn slightly and cross the stream².
I got out of my car to analyze the situation, keeping a sharp eye out for rattlesnakes all the while. The rocky stream bed seemed firm and the water appeared to be shallow. I didn't see any high rocks or any deep holes. I decided to go forward, and for good measure, to go at a trot. A little inertia could do no harm. I got back in my car, put it in gear, and drove briskly through the water -- nothing to it! It was almost an anti-climax.
|After a short trip down the stream bed, |
the actual crossing of the stream
Back to the modern world
A half-mile or so past the creek ford, I drove out of the trees and bushes into a large valley with cultivated fields. I stopped to take a picture of the road behind and the road ahead. Clearly, I was getting back to civilization.
I passed a field of tall grass that appeared to be in the CRP (Conservation Reserve Program, aka Soil Bank). I am not particularly good at identifying grasses, but I definitely recognized the six-foot-tall clumps with "turkey claw" blooms --they could only be big bluestem! What a nice surprise!
Soon the road passed a farm house with a caution sign for "Children at play". Then I pulled up to a stop sign and realized that I had reached the west end of Rattlesnake Road. I thought momentarily about turning around and driving back through to experience it again, but I didn't do it. Instead, I turned onto the highway and dutifully drove to Hopkinsville to pick up my prescriptions at the drugstore before the pharmacy window closed.
The comment that inspired my visit to Rattlesnake Road mentioned "the heebie jeebies", and I do understand why. I never did see a snake of any sort, but I had an uneasy feeling that a snake could be nearby, during the entire time I was on that road. I don't think I could ever feel comfortable if I lived there.
|Rattlesnake Road's junction with Ovil Road|
² After consulting the map, I believe that the ford crosses the true Buck Fork of Pond River (not just one of its tributaries). I am not 100% sure about that. Every little valley in northern Todd County has its own little creek. Even on my topographical map that shows many details, sometimes it's hard to tell which creek is the branch and which is the twig.