In 1968 or thereabouts I went hunting on some land that within a few months was all underwater. In late 1963 I broke in the 500 miles on a new MGB by driving the nearly 100 mile circuit around Nashville of what is/was Old Hickory Boulevard, every night for a week. Part of that drive went through a section of Davidson County that is now underwater.
The flooding was gradual. Percy Priest Dam on the Stones River took many years to construct, and properties in the flood zone were purchased for the project and evacuated. Houses, barns, stores and other structures were left standing, but many others were demolished or moved to other locations. Roadways were left intact but barricaded at what would become water’s edge. I can’t remember how long the flooding process took. Weeks, I’m thinking.
Later, in the early 1970’s, this area of Middle Tennessee had substantial flooding, to the point that Old Hickory Lake (on the Cumberland) had to be be drained by opening the flood gates. That caused a serious flooding of the river far downstream of the dam, including some residential areas. I remember driving around one weekend surveying the extent of the flooding.
The weirdest yarn I have about the Percy Priest flooding is that a work buddy came by my house one Sunday in 1968 (maybe it was 1969, I forget) and invited me to go water skiing on Priest with him. We had made a pretty good tour of a largish section of the lake and were a good 500 yards from any shore when he suddenly cut power on his boat and I sank into the water as he paddled away from a big section of floating limbs and such. To keep from sinking (I was wearing a life jacket) I used one of the skis as a paddle and was paddling along when all of a sudden I began to feel what I thought was a school of piranhas (yeah, I know) eating my legs. I began thrashing about, scared to the point I was pissing myself, when suddenly the ski I was using as a paddle struck the bottom of the lake. I put my legs down and stood up! I was in knee-deep water! And I was still hndreds of yards from the nearest bank. Jesus.
Over the years, no telling how much has been dumped into these lakes in terms of cars, appliances, bodies, you name it. It’s hard to see your hand underwater, and yet there are divers who will routinely search the waters whenever there’s a swimmer or boater who goes missing out there.
I’ll stop now.