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The Green River of Kentucky

The Green River of Kentucky

Copyright Date: 1976
Edition: 1
Pages: 126
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  • Book Info
    The Green River of Kentucky
    Book Description:

    Cutting a wide east-west swath from the Appalachian foothills to the heart of the western Kentucky coalfields, the Green River valley extends from below the Tennessee border in the south to the Ohio River in the north.The Green River of Kentuckypresents a picture of the unity and diversity of the people living in the Green River valley.

    Helen Bartter Crocker finds that each generation of its people approached the river in a distinctive way. Early settlers used the river simply as it was -- crooked and narrow with an unpredictable water flow, and navigable only under high-water conditions. The sons of these pioneers were interested in bringing steamboats to the valley; until they succeeded in persuading the state legislature to improve the Green River and its tributary, the Barren, by a series of locks and dams, however, volunteers would work -- often up to their necks in water -- until they cleared the river sufficiently to allow steamers to reach Bowling Green at high water.

    When the locks and dams were reopened following the Civil War, a local private corporation gained a near-monopoly of the river trade. Public outcry against this private ownership caused the federal government to take control, and through the Corps of Engineers, to undertake extensive river improvements. After the Great Depression, when trade was almost at a standstill, additional federal funds were appropriated for flood-control dams in the upper river and modern locks in the lower river to harness the valley's industrial potential. These opened up coal barging and recreational facilities, which ensured the future economic well being of the Green River valley.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5030-7
    Subjects: History, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiii)
  4. [Maps]
    (pp. xiv-xviii)
  5. 1 The Pioneer Settlements, 1780-1830
    (pp. 1-13)

    The green river of Kentucky is one of the navigable streams born in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Flowing west and then north for some 370 miles, it cuts widely across west-central Kentucky until it finally reaches the Ohio River, 197 miles above its confluence with the Mississippi. Though the Green River drains nearly one-fourth of Kentucky, as Yell as a portion of northern Tennessee, no large population centers have developed along its banks. Except for the lower third of the river, there is little industrial development, and it retains much ofthe unspoiled loveliness that first greeted the Kentucky...

  6. 2 Kentucky Improves the Wild River, 1833-1868
    (pp. 14-27)

    Th e steamboat fever of the 1820s inspired the most dramatic physical changes and the most colorful river culture in all Green River's history. The inhabitants ofthe valley were no longer satisfied to wait for high water to carry steamboats safely over the rocky obstructions. Thus they convinced the state legislature to make the Green River its pioneer project in internal improvements. By 1842 a series of four locks and dams on the lower Green River, and one on its major tributary, the Barren River, completed the slackwater system as far as Bowling Green.

    Many Kentuckians of that era viewed...

  7. 3 The Monarchs of Green River, 1868-1888
    (pp. 28-45)

    The decades that followed the Civil War marked an important turning point in the life of the Green River valley, for Kentucky gave up control of the rivers, leasing them to a private corporation. Then, for a twenty-year interlude, a small group of businessmen-dubbed the “monarchs of Green River” by a local editor-made the rivers profitable for the first time. They were so profitable, in fact, that competing river interests charged they had a monopoly of river business and asked the United States government to take over control. The efforts to destroy the Green and Barren River Navigation Company’s lease...

  8. 4 The Final Steamboat Era, 1888-1931
    (pp. 46-70)

    When the United States took over the Green and Barren rivers on December 11, 1888, many believed steamboating had little future. Railroads were cutting so deeply into river trade that Mark Twain, a former river pilot himself, had announced steamboating’s funeral in 1872. In the Green River valley, however, his cut-off date was about fifty years too early, for toll-free navigation and government improvements initiated a flashy, second-wind era of steamboating interest.

    In 1888 the Navigation Company had so badly neglected the rivers that through traffic between Bowling Green and Evansville was impossible. The river wall of Lock Number 3...

  9. 5 Coal, Flood Control, and the Environmentalists, 1931-1975
    (pp. 71-86)

    This 1934 expression of nostalgia for the rivers’ past glory had a prophetic ring, for it suggested the valley was entering an era of expanded river use. Unlike those who first brought steamboats to Bowling Green a century earlier, the river leaders who came of age in the Great Depression no longer believed they could bring about river improvements themselves; rather, they saw them as the responsibility of the United States government, through its Corps of Engineers ofthe United States Army. Finally they got huge government appropriations to build larger locks in the lower Green River and flood-control dams in...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 87-94)
  12. A Note to Readers
    (pp. 95-98)