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Tennessee River Gorge

Tennessee River Gorge

The Tennessee River Gorge is a 26 mile long, steep canyon formed by the Tennessee River. It is the fourth largest river gorge in the Eastern United States. The gorge is cut into the Cumberland Plateau as the river winds its way into Alabama from Tennessee. The Tennessee River Gorge is home to endangered species like the Bald Eagle and the Mountain Skullcap. Many archaeological sites have been discovered in the gorge that show that people have been dwelling in the canyon for at least 10,000 years.

Prior to the completion of Hales Bar Dam in 1913 and the subsequent raising of the water-level, the stretch of the Tennessee River flowing through the Gorge was notorious for its navigational hazards, whirlpools, eddies, shoals, and one huge rock. Beginning just below the foot of Williams Island, these obstructions included Tumbling Shoals, the Holston Rock, the Kettle, the Suck Shoals, the Deadman’s Eddy, the Pot, the Skillet, the Pan, and, finally, the ten-mile Narrows. Of these, the Kettle, or the Suck as it is better known, at the mouth of Suck Creek is the most infamous, drawing notice from even Thomas Jefferson, who had never been anywhere near the area.

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