This was the first day of sightseeing.
There were a bunch of landmarks to see, and barely enough time to get to them.
After this, every day was slower paced.
Wells Creek Crater in Cumberland City, TN
was just some quick initial exploration.
I'll have to come back again in the future.
I easily identified the hills which make up the rim and the central uplift.
I found the historical landmark sign on the highway.
Most of the sights are on private property, some of them at the
Tennesse Valley Authority's Cumberland City power plant which occupies the
northern third of the crater.
I met some local property owners who can
let me explore some more. But by the time I found them, we exchanged
contact info. And then I had to keep going to the next stops.
The next stop was Fort Donelson National Battlefield in Tennessee.
This was further down also along the Cumberland River.
In the Civil War, this was the Confederate fort to block the Union from
access to Tennessee via the Cumberland River.
It was important to the Confederacy -
lose this fort and they could lose Tennessee.
They knew it.
And when General Grant won the battles at Fort Henry on the Tennessee River
and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River, it did indeed
open the way for the Union to take Tennessee.
(You can't visit Fort Henry because it was submerged under
Kentucky Lake in 1944.)
This was the place he first got the nickname "Unconditional Surrender" Grant.
I stopped for lunch in New Madrid, MO, the westernmost point in the trip.
This is both a geological and historical interest.
In both 1811 and 1812, it was the site of the largest recorded earthquakes
in the contiguous 48 states, bigger than anything we've had in California.
USGS is preparing to mark the bicentennial of these quakes next year.
It was also a critical battle in the Civil War, where the Union initially
broke through the Confederate defenses at a bend on the Mississippi River.
Though New Madrid and Island No 10 were heavily defended, the Union gunboats
and aggressive tactics (digging a canal so the gunboats could surround
Island No 10) eventually forced the rebels to abandon their positions.
After this, they were able to continue on to Forts Henry and Donelson.
After a quick stop in Kuttawa, Kentucky to check into the motel, I went to
Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.
This is in the narrow area between Kentucky Lake on the Tennessee River and
Lake Barkley on the Cumberland River.
The two lakes were made at the same elevation so that a canal could be made between
them without locks.
I'd have preferred to arrive earlier with time to do photography around the lakes.
But I did get there in time for the laser light show at the planetarium.
These are actually laser shows available in planetariums just about everywhere.
I hadn't seen them before so it was just for fun anyway.
I didn't know what to expect from attempts to take pictures of the laser show.
I was pleased with the results.
And I really enjoyed the show.