Yesterday we saw the home of Popeye, today it was Superman. South of Carbondale on the Ohio River is Metropolis, Illinois, the official home of Superman. A 15-foot statue is located downtown; we passed on the museum, since it seemed like simply a commercial venture. Superman in Metropolis
The Ohio River is plenty wide here, and we took the old bridge, a narrow, two-lane affair with steel grating, to Paducah, Kentucky.
The countryside seems ever lovelier, with more annual rainfall and so greener and lusher. In fact by the time we got near Nashville, we saw large stands of kudzu taking over trees, hedges, and fields. We must be back in the South.
Kentucky Dam was, in its way, as big an engineering marvel as Boulder / Hoover Dam. Begun in 1939 and dedicated by President Truman in 1945, it was a key part of the TVA project. Some 8000 feet long, it took a crew of 5000 to complete. By damming the Tennessee River, it created Lake Kentucky, and enabled the TVA to have greater flood control over the lower Tennessee and the lower Ohio. A sister dam across the Cumberland River created Lake Barkley, and the resulting peninsula between the two lakes was taken by the federal government. In 1963 President Kennedy dedicated the National Recreation Area known as LBL, or Land Between the Lakes. Kentucky Dam
According to the blurb, LBL is within a day's drive for half the U.S. population. Herds of buffalo and elk have been introduced, and there are numerous campgrounds and boat launch facilities. It's a fishing and hunting paradise. The highway through LBL, known as The Trace, is an especially pleasant scenic road. We did pass one herd of bison dozing contentedly on a nearby hillside.
The TVA reminded us of France, where all the public utilities are owned by the government. TVA does not do electric distribution: that is handled by local power companies. But TVA generates 152B KWH of electricity annually, of which only 11% is from the system of 29 hydroelectric plants. The majority of the power is generated by coal-burning generating stations, together with three nuclear plants. TVA justifies its existence by its overall management of the Tennessee River system, including flood control, water purity, power generation, navigation, and recreation. A federal corporation, TVA employs 13,000 people. The literature did not explain who holds the stock of this corporation, or whether the corporation is for-profit or nonprofit. Perhaps a savvy reader will educate us some more!
The accents were so thick at lunch we knew we were in Tennessee; another way we could tell was that the two young couples at the next booth were earnestly discussing the local preacher who, it was asserted, had a quick and comprehensible answer for every question of faith.
Coming into Nashville we ran into another thunderstorm. This helped to break the heat, which had been hovering in the low 90s. In the rain the temperature dropped to the mid-70s, which felt pretty good.