For the outdoor adventurer, Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area in western Kentucky and Tennessee is a top choice for summer travel plans. With over 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline, 200 miles of paved roads, 500 miles of trails, and 170,000 acres of forests and open lands, the area offers a plethora of activities and opportunities for fun and relaxation.
Being a human-made attraction, Land Between The Lakes, or LBL, did not happen without a price. According to the Murray Ledger, in the 1960s, the Kennedy administration planned to create the largest nature preserve east of the Mississippi River. To do so required damming the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers to create Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.
In the process, the towns of Golden Pond and Twin Lakes, among others, were demolished and largely covered by the newly formed lakes, forcing the evacuation and relocation of those towns’ residents and businesses.
Decades later, the relocation remains a source of contention with many of those who felt forced from their family lands. Lexington author Jayne Moore Waldrop builds upon this narrative and LBL’s creation history in her historical fiction novel, Drowned Town.
The story, frequently skipping between past and present, follows an assortment of fictional characters from the towns that existed before LBL was created, through the relocations and on into the years since then. Through their lenses, Waldrop presents both sides—the beauty of the area so loved by tourists and the painful ghosts of flooded heritage that still haunt those displaced.
Waldrop, who was born and grew up in Paducah, notes feeling conflicted herself as she walked the shoreline some 10 years ago when the lake was at its lowest winter level. “For the first time I witnessed the foundations of houses, scattered bricks, even railroad spikes near where the train station used to be. The images haunted me … I had not considered the profound personal losses of the few for the benefit of the many…” she reports.
Perhaps Margaret, Drowned Town’s successful attorney who experiences a life-changing emotional awakening about the lake and its residents, was crafted based on that very moment for Waldrop, who also practiced law in Louisville and Frankfort.
Drowned Town, University Press of Kentucky, $24.95, can be purchased at KentuckyPress.com or at major booksellers.
After earning a law degree at the University of Kentucky and working as an attorney, Jayne Moore Waldrop attended Murray State University for her Master in Fine Arts in creative writing.
Learn more about Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area and plan your visit online at www.landbetweenthelakes.us.