Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Across the Tennessee River, Lunch and More…

It was our last day of our family trip to Wisconsin.  Laurie and I had dropped off her sisters in Mt. Vernon Illinois and we’d stayed overnight in Paducah Tennessee.  I wasn’t exactly planning to ‘sprint’ home to East Tennessee and in my last post I provided photos and a bit of history about Paris Tennessee.
Our last bit of adventure was on the horizon…

The woman is this photo caught several pan fish while we were watching… She was fishing in the southern part of Kentucky Lake which is in Tennessee.  The lake is a navigable reservoir along the Tennessee River.  The reservoir, which covers 160,309 acres is the largest artificial lake by surface area in the Eastern USA.

There is a lot of boat traffic on the lake, with good reason too! 

Kentucky Lake is connected via a canal to Lake Barkley which is a nearby reservoir situated on the Cumberland River.  Lake Barkley is 134 miles long with a shoreline measuring 1,004 miles.  Kentucky Lake is 184 miles long.  Between them, there is more than 2,400 miles of shoreline!  The 2 lakes run parallel to each other for more than 50 miles.  The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (175,000 acres) is located between the 2 lakes.  To learn more, go to

So why were we sitting on the shoreline of Kentucky Lake watching a woman fishing and boats cruising by? 

We were waiting for the ferry boat of course!  The Danville Toll Ferry connects TN Hwy. 147 where it crosses the Tennessee River/Kentucky Lake near McKinnon Tennessee.
The ferries are owned by the State of Tennessee and they’re operated by River Marine Service, Inc.  The ferry operates 365 days a year from early morning until 6 PM in the evening.  The cost for taking a car, driver and passengers across the Tennessee River is a real bargain…only $1.00!!

Why the sign on the front of the ferry states “Danville-Faxon Ferry Port of St. Louis” is a mystery to me.  River Marine Service, Inc. is based in Clarksville Tennessee and they also operate the only other ferry service in Tennessee.  That crossing is on TN Hwy. 46 Cumberland City in Stewart County.  This is another back road driving destination that I’ll seek out in the next few months!

As we were transported across the Tennessee River on the ferry, we took this photo showing 2 spans of an old railroad bridge.  There had to be a story behind this recent archaeological remnant…

First of all, it was significant to learn that there used to be a town here.  Appropriately enough, it was called Danville.  In late 1860 or early 1861, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad built a bridge over the Tennessee River here.  The bridge was partially dismantled/disabled by Union Troops during the Civil War.  The original bridge was repaired and put back in use after the war with traffic really picking up in the late 1800’s. 

After 70 years, the old bridge needed to be replaced and the new rail bridge was completed in 1932.  It featured a vertical-lift span so steamboats and barges could safely pass through on the river.  Following completion of the new bridge, Danville had its best years.  Up to 24 trains per day passed through town.  The community had a steamboat landing, several stores and saloons, a post office, hotel and Masonic Hall. 

Then, in 1937 everything changed when the announcement came that the Tennessee Valley Authority would be building Kentucky Dam.  The people of Danville were told that they had to move as their entire town would be flooded… 

The railroad bridge had to be raised quite a bit to accommodate the new lake.  The changes were completed and the railroad line was operated by the Louisville and Nashville Railway until 1983 when it was sold to Seaboard Systems.  Operations ceased on this line in 1985.  Homes have been built on the lake along the former railroad right of way…

But we also noted this even more interesting graffiti covered archeological ruin!  What the heck was it?

In 1914, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad saw enough potential in the Danville Railway Bridge that it constructed a large “transfer station” on the banks of the Tennessee River.  This unique structure is also called a wharf.

As you can see from this old photo I ‘borrowed’ from the Internet, it was a 6 level building.  The bottom 3 levels were open for boats carrying cargo to unload their goods.  The 3 levels allowed for fluctuations in the river’s depth.  Two elevators carried cargo from the lower levels to the trains waiting on the fourth level.  The upper levels were used for elevator shafts, offices and storage.  Primary commodities passing through the transfer station/wharf included peanuts, grain, limestone, iron and cotton. 

Although there have been claims that the TVA left the ruins of the transfer station as a large channel marker, most likely they were left due to the cost of tearing them down.

After our Tennessee River adventures, it was time for lunch.  Laurie pulled out her trusty smart phone and she checked Trip Advisor for ideas.  That’s how we discovered Tony B’s in Dickson Tennessee.

The expansive seating, open grill area and basic décor in Tony B’s mark it as a mid-south version of a diner. 

The reviews all stated that the hamburgers were special, so that’s what I ordered.  It was a great burger!  The French fries were very good too...

Laurie loves Patty Melts, so that was her obvious choice.  She was every bit as happy with her lunch as I was with mine!  She had chips with hers...

The gentleman with the white hair by the grill is Tony B.  He knows how to grill a burger, that’s for sure!  There were lots of other sandwich choices on the menu too as well as chili and chicken. 

Tony B’s is located at 255 Dickson Plaza Drive in Dickson Tennessee.  Phone: 615-446-0097.  This restaurant is open from 10:30 AM until 8:00 PM daily except they are closed on Sundays.  For more photos, included a couple of the menu, go to

By this point in the day, we were running out of time if we wanted to get home before dark.  However I still managed to check out a couple of historical places in Dickson before sprinting back to Eastern Tennessee.

The 2-story First National Bank of Dickson was built in 1920.   Architecturally speaking, it is a Neo-Classical design.  It’s partially for that reason plus its significance in the economic development of the town that it is a significant structure in Dickson.  It’s still a bank.  It’s called the Bank of Dickson and it appears that it’s probably part of the Wells Fargo banking conglomerate. 

This is the old Louisville and Nashville Railroad Depot in Dickson.  I couldn’t find any other information on the building.  It’s right across the tracks from the Hotel Halbrook, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, whereas the depot isn’t…

The Hotel Halbrook, which is a Tennessee State Historic Site, is one of the few remaining examples of a railroad hotel in a small Tennessee town.  The hotel was built in 1913.  Former Governor Frank G. Clement and his family once lived here while they managed the hotel. 

The hotel houses the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum.  It is a major local tourist attraction.  The museum features exhibits regarding the Civil War and railroading as well as both local and regional history.  Several exhibits are related to Governor Clement’s early life and career. 

Hotel Halbrook and the Clement Railroad Museum are located at 100 Clement Place in Dickson.  The building was restored and it opened to the public in 2009.  For more information on this attraction, you can go to go to

That’s all for now.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

1 comment:

  1. Wow, another excellent post about history and food of your native land, friend David. You should consider having them published in your local paper or something like that. Love, cat. (I added another song of my sons to post Foofoo … I know, I know … but I am proud of him for having changed for the better so much over the years.)c.