"Reelfoot Lake is an afterthought of creation. It is the newest and
biggest thing on this hemisphere. It is the best game and fish country at and natural or artificial creation that is left in the South today".
- Irvin S. Cobb
Join me on this nostalgia trip to beautiful...
In Northwest Tennessee
I may be going through mid-life crisis. I prefer to think of it as simply remembering good times with those I love. Many of those times happened at the around the largest natural lake in the most beautiful state in the union, the state of Tennessee.
When I was a kid, we used to have family trips each year to this wonderful play-land far, far away. This exotic place looked like something out of a Tarzan movie. The difference was that this movie had beaches, cabins, a miniature gauge train and lots of ducks. We usually had several vacation times there each year including Independence Day trips. "Family" usually consisted of my parents, my younger brother, a couple of uncle/aunt combinations and a dozen or more cousins.
Reelfoot Lake has been called one of the natural wonders of the modern world. When Tennessee was admitted to the United States in 1796, the land west of
the Tennessee River belonged to the Chickasaw tribe, and it was not until
l8l8 that Andrew Jackson and Isaac Shelby cajoled these Indians into signing a treaty by which this beautiful country was added to Tennessee. The price paid was $15,000 a year for 20 years, making the six million acre "Jackson purchase" worth a mere five cents per acre.
Never once to question the violence
of nature, the Chickasaw credited "the
wrath of their Gods" with the lake's
creation. They tell of Reelfoot, a
chieftan of one of their tribes, who,
during his wanderings, met and fell
madly in love with Starlight, princess
of the Choctaws. Refused her hand in
marriage, Reelfoot and his braves kidnapped
the maiden, and returned to their homeland
amid the Cypress trees near the "Father of
Waters". While celebrating the success of
their venture, legend says, the earth
opened up and swallowed the whole tribe,
then covered their lodges with water.
During the bitter cold winter of
1811-12, a series of earthquakes racked
the Mississippi Valley when the area
north of Louisiana was nothing more than
virgin forests. Only a few scattered
settlements of white men existed in the
region, including the Spanish and French
village of New Madrid on the Mississippi
River in what is now Missouri. Fortunately,
there were a number of scientists
and men of education in and near the
region during the period of disturbance
who left records of their experience.
Although the beaches are gone, Reelfoot lake stands as a haven for wildlife of nearly every description. Reelfoot Lake is one of the greatest hunting and fishing preserves in the nation. The lake encompasses 25,000 acres (15,000 of which are water) and harbors almost every kind of shore and wading bird, as well as the golden and American bald eagles. Other animals are also diverse and abundant here. Its many species of flowering and non-flowering plants attract botany enthusiasts
from all over the country. Cypress dominates the margins of the lake, but many other trees and shrubs are also present.
"The high-minded man is more interested in the truth
than in what people believe."
Copyright © 2007 Don Reasons