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Captain Bob and the War of Rebellion on the Tennessee River

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Captain Bob and Sterling take a day to visit Johnsville State Historic Park, one of the many Civil War sites along their 652 mile cruise of the Tennessee River.

Day Five: Any Man’s Journey on the Tennessee River
Miles Traveled:
Locks: None
Miles Traveled: 52 miles

As told by Karin Landers, Visit Humphrey County

Captain Bob Cherry Jr. and Sterling Edwards docked at Pebble Isle Marina at New Johnsonville, Tennessee on Thursday, May 28th before 8 a.m. Captain Bob remarked “the water was so smooth the night before we decided to travel further than planned and made it all the way to Cuba Landing Marina”, which is just a short distance from Pebble Isle where we were to meet.

As I boarded, the Chef was cooking a breakfast of country ham, eggs, gravy and toast. While they ate we chatted about some errands they wanted to run, and I added some of our places to share with them. Both had fun finding new bargain shops, so we visited Pickin’ on Main in McEwen, where Sterling found several pocket knives.

On the way back to New Johnsonville for our 1 p.m. Johnsonville State Park experience, we stopped by Memories and Marmalade to pick up some freshly prepared sandwiches on homemade bread. Upon arrival at the visitor’s center at Johnsonville State Historic Park, we were greeted by Ranger Bob Holliday, Manager of Johnsonville State Historic Park, Ranger Noah Sinz, Ranger Joan Williams and staff member Roberta Harper. Captain Bob and Sterling are military history enthusiasts, especially of the Civil War. Their journey on the Tennessee River to this point at taken them past significant battlefields such as Shiloh and multiple historical sites without time to stop, but on this day, Karin has arranged a visit with the rangers at Johnsonville State Historic Park to talk the “War of Rebellion.” Earlier in the week on Memorial Day, they had boated past Lookout Mountain, one of the sites of the Chickamauga Campaign.

Captain Bob reminded us that Memorial Day was originally a day set aside after the Civil War to decorate the graves of family members lost during the war. The day was called Decoration Day. It was not until 1968 that Congress passed a bill designating Memorial Day as a national holiday to commemorate the soldiers lost in all wars.

During the tour of the center they viewed numerous artifacts that had been salvaged from sunken Union boats, which was of special interest since Captain Bob owned a dive and salvage company. Our group then departed the Center to board the boat and traveled to the area, now underwater, where the Confederate guns had been located. Ranger Holliday gave us maps that showed the lay of the land as he told the story of the Battle of Johnsonville, a powerful story from the land side, but even more so from the river.

Docking back at Pebble Isle Marina, and thanking the rangers for an incredible experience, the three of us disembarked and headed for a land cruise, on the Tennessee River Trail. We were Gutter Bound….Gutter Bound Distillery that is. This family run distillery had not been open long when the pandemic caused all the closures. They transitioned to producing hand sanitizer to help the community and are now transitioning back to moonshine. Just another remarkable business inthe Tennessee River Valley with community spirit. This new distillery along the trail is a fun place to stop and chat with the owners, Jecike and Sanford Markham. Take a tour; have a sip if you like; or just hear how moonshine is made. This brought back fun memories for Sterling and Bob of their earlier years and river adventures, which I won’t share here.

Captain Bob mentioned he liked BBQ and Sterling’s culinary prowess discerning sauces determined the perfect place for dinner - Rochelle’s Bar None BBQ in Hurricane Mills. YUMMMM!!

Ready for a hot shower and a real bed, we headed back, with a detour drive through Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, which just cannot be missed when in Hurricane Mills. The Plantation House, The Old Grist Mill, Western Town and the Museum, the campgrounds and just the beauty of the ranch made it a place they want to come back to. Best of all, It is just a short drive from Paducah, KY, their hometown. Finally, an Airbnb rental for the night, Sportsman’s Retreat with a comfy beds, and dry towels.

Coming up- Take me to Paris!