October 25-November 1 Cruising the Tenn-Tom Waterway through Tennessee & Mississippi


We learned that prior to 1985, if you wanted to cruise from Chicago to the Gulf, the only option was “The Muddy Mississippi” full of barges, dangerous currents, whirlpools & major floating debris.  The 12 year, 234 mile long, 2 billion dollar project called the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway(“The Tenn-Tom”) connected those 2 rivers.  More dirt was moved to build it and it’s 10 locks than the Panama Canal.  Only 2 manmade projects can be seen from outer space & that is this waterway & the Great Wall of China.  Who knew?  After leaving Nashville we reboarded & headed south on the Tennessee River with it’s cliffs & beautiful fall foliage.  Our first stop was Clifton, TN (with floating docks that can lift over 30′ for spring flooding) where we visited Savannah, TN & toured the Tennessee River Museum.  Clifton is home to the Cherry Mansion where General Grant stayed during the Civil War & the battle at Shiloh.  The next stop was on Pickwick Lake at Grand Harbor Marina. This is a very special area where Tenn., Miss. & Al. all meet…  An evening at Freddy T’s restaurant was capped with a stop along the road where a group was enjoying the “Porta Party”, a karaoke stage on a trailer.  As one of the gals said “you are now in redneck hell”.  The people couldn’t have been more friendly. Who knew our Capt. Steve was such a good singer and great Johnny Cash entertainer!!  We really enjoyed it.  The next day included a trip to Shiloh battlefied where the harsh realities of the Civil War hit home.  23,000 died at Shiloh, over 600,000 in the entire war.  Obviously it had to happen but what a price to pay!?!  The next day we went through 3 more locks (biggest was a 85′ drop) & the next stop was Fulton, MS & Midway Marina.  We were invited to celebrate Halloween in the clubhouse with about 100 other locals & fellow cruisers.  Thank God for costumes a-la-Walmart.  The Tenn-Tom created an amazing display of environmental & natural wildlife sites thanks to the conscientious planning & engineering on the part of the US Army Corp of Engineers.  The next cruising day included another 3 locks & a stop in Columbus, MS.  Columbus was where we toured the home of local boy Tennessee Williams (his birthplace) as well as other historic homes.  It has 50+ homes on the National Register & is well worth a visit.  On into Alabama… 

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