Monday, January 4, 2010

Following Verlen and Valerie-IX-Down the Tombigbee to Mobile

After the Holidays I have resumed following Verlen and Valerie on their Two Continent Canoe Expedition.
Coming down the Divide Cut the Krugers would have first encountered the backwater of the Bay Springs Dam. After locking through they shortly would have passed under a bridge carrying the Natchez Trace Parkway across the Waterway.
Wikipedia: "The Natchez Trace, a 440 mile long path extending from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee, linked the Mississippi, Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. It was a traditional Native American trail and was later used by European explorers as both a trade and transit route in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Today the trail has been commemorated by the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway, which follows the approximate path of the trace. The trace itself has a long and rich history, filled with brave explorers, dastardly outlaws and daring settlers. Parts of the original trail are still accessible."
Thirty years ago Elaine and I drove the length of the Parkway in our 1978 Chrysler LeBaron, 8-track playing.
I still have an 8-track setup here at the River House. In memory of Elaine I have been playing some of those tapes including "The Theme from Rocky", some Bert Bacharach and even some Glen Miller pieces from our youth. I also played the banjo music from that 1976 canoeing classic "Deliverance". If any of you youngsters haven't seen "Deliverance"' you should definitely rent it.
Next downstream for the Krugers was Montgomery Lock, John Rankin (D) Lock, Fulton (C) Lock and Grover Wilkens (B) Lock, each with a lake behind. The latter is near Smithville, Mississippi. Then the lock for Pool A near Amory, Mississippi; Aberdeen Lock and Dam, and John C. Stennis (Columbus) Lock and Dam backing up Columbus Lake. (There is a also a US Navy Aircraft Carrier named for Senator John C. Stennis).
Then into Alabama on the channelized Tombigbee to the Tom Bevill (Aliceville) Lock and Dam and the Howell Heflin (Gainsville) Lock and Dam then to Demopolis and the confluence with the Black Warrior River. The Demopolis Lock and Dam is located a short ways downstream of the town. (The lock names in parenthesis are how they were designated when Verlen and Valerie went through).
Dermopolis is the end of the Tennessee-Tombigbee. From there on it is the Black Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway.
A little more than half way between Demopolis and Mobile is the Coffeeville Lock and Dam.
Farther down the Tombigbee joins the Alabama River and when the river-brown water changes to salt-water green in Mobile Bay I am done following Verlen and Valerie. I am a fresh water-cool weather canoeist.
Maybe you Florida types might want to take them from here on. If I get ambitious I might head north and enlist a seagull over the mighty Mackenzie and follow Verlen and Valerie upstream and across Canada.
From Phil Peterson's All Things Are Possible: "Verlen  and Valerie continued south throughout the winter. By March13, 1987, they were in Mobile, Alabama, 7,000 miles south of their starting point at the mouth of the Mackenzie River...Their spirits remained high...They had come through the seven locks of the Tombigbee Waterway, and had been introduced to parts of the country and its people that neither had seen or met before."
Same for me and my virtual seagull.

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