Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hidden History At Hidden Lake

Mr. Handsome and I are always up for a hike. A few weeks ago, we heard about Hidden Lake at Harpeth River State Park, located just west of Nashville, and decided to check it out.

The trail is made up of several connecting loops, with a combined length of just over 2 miles. It took us about an hour to hike the whole thing. Halfway through the hike, we began seeing abandoned structures that we figured had to be at least 70-80 years old, and we quickly realized that there is more to the area than meets the eye.


The reason it's called Hidden is because the trail loops around a lake that is well hidden by two bluffs.


In the 1800s, the area was used as farmland. From about 1895-1910, the lake was created when the Hutton family started a limestone quarry. During Prohibition in the 1920s, rumor had it that there were speakeasies and illegal moonshine sales operating on the property.


In the late 1920s/early1930s, the Dobsons opened a family-style resort called Hidden Lake. They sealed to bottom of the quarry with asphalt and a concrete edge, created a system to filter the water, and built a water slide from the top of one of the bluffs. The resort also featured a lodge with showers and a mess hall.

It was neat to walk the path and see multiple abandoned, dilapidated buildings in the middle of the woods.




On top of one of the bluffs, we found the remains of a 90-year-old stage and marble dance floor, with a beautiful birdseye view of the lake. Apparently, popular groups from the Big Band era played at the resort while guests danced.


At the trail entrance, this old flyer was displayed:


We also found an old fuel tank that sort of looked like a submarine.


Unfortunately, the lodge burned down in the 1940s, and the resort closed. The area was once again used for farming until acquired by the state in the 1990s.

35 comments:

  1. Anonymous9/19/2017

    Looks a lot like Elkmont in TN! We went there for the first time this year, and I have to admit, it was a little spooky and sad! It left me with a rather empty feeling. Check it out online if you don't in person!

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    1. Anonymous9/20/2017

      I went to Elkmont years ago, and I loved it. It was very fascinating. Thank you for mentioning it because I couldn't remember the name of it right off the top of my head:-)

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    2. I hadn't heard of Elkmont, but I looked it up, and it looks like a unique place. We will have to put that on our list of places to visit. To the first commenter, I definitely understand why it could leave you with an empty feeling. It's always a shame when people have to leave their homes, for whatever reason.

      Ellie

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    3. Peters Fam9/21/2017

      Yes Ellie please check out elkmont next time you go to gatlinburg!! It's just down the road from gat 7 miles or so. My family used to camp at elkmont a number of years ago and we would walk through the dilapidated houses with the doors hanging open. Very spooky feeling. Just don't go walking through it at twilight (which we did one time 👻😱) and watch mr handsome at all times so he won't scare you!) I can relate to the empty feeling comment very much. But it's very historical throughout that area. Was a big logging "town" there at that area before the smokies was a national park with a train running through there etc. We need to go back there to camp...if you hiked Laurel falls you were just down the road a bit from there. Also another honorable mention in the smokies is the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. It's like a Cade's cove right outside gatlinburg also. It's a one way loop with your vehicle and you see cabins, a gristmill, the first framed house in the smokies is there. It winds up in the hills right below mt. Leconte. Just as pretty or prettier than Cade's cove in my opinion with an enchanting drive through the forest with a rushing stream and phenomenal views wondering how in the world could a community could thrive so far (in that day with only a wagon or horse) from town.

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  2. Anonymous9/19/2017

    Hi Ellie. I really enjoyed reading about your hiking experience, and also the pictures. Thank-you for sharing...Jane

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    1. It's my pleasure, Jane. Glad you enjoyed the pictures.

      Ellie

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  3. Anonymous9/19/2017

    Wow! Interesting post Ellie! I love historical sites. It's always amazing to think that long ago other people lived in the same spot you stand. The abandoned buildings were near to see! God bless :)

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    1. Yes! It makes you wish you could travel back in time and see what it was like many years ago. I was recently in a 120-year-old house with original doors and windows and couldn't help but wonder about all the people who turned the front doorknob and entered the home over the years. I do love history!

      Ellie

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    2. I love how Americans are impressed by 120 year old buildings! I love old stuff- I have a degree in history! Still, it's all more standard over here! My house in London was built in 1895, my college canteen was 500 years old and my wedding reception was held in middle temple hall, where Twelth Night debued (on candlemas night on 2nd February 1602)! Have you ever been to London/ Europe?

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    3. Hi MarriedUK,

      Those buildings sound very neat! What college did you attend that was 500 years old? And may I ask what a college canteen is? :)

      My family went to Europe when I was young, but we didn't tour England (only stopped over at Heathrow for a few hours). It would be lovely to go to London someday.

      Ellie

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    4. I went to Magdalen College, Oxford. College canteen is the dining room. Look it up online, it's lovely...
      London is definitely worth a visit. If you're ever heading in this direction, I'll give you a list of top tips!

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    5. Wow, how beautiful! I looked up the history, and it's quite impressive. How neat to attend a school founded in the 1400s. I would love to take a trip back in time and see what it was like in its early days. What did you study?

      I'll let you know if we make plans to visit the area.

      Ellie

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    6. Appropriately, I studied history. Although I have sullied myself now by taking up law...

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    7. That's wonderful! Are you back in school full-time studying law, or just evenings?

      Ellie

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  4. Anonymous9/20/2017

    I love your blog. You make the history of the area come alive for us. Was it sort of sad to see very little left of a place that was once so full of life? Barb

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    1. Thank you, Barb. I'm glad to hear that. :)

      Yes, it was a bit of a shame. I can only imagine how much work it took to build a resort on a bluff in the middle of nowhere. It's too bad it was only used for a short time.

      Ellie

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  5. This looks like a fascinating place!

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  6. Anonymous9/20/2017

    Do you know why the lake is so green and opaque? Related to the mining?

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    1. That's a good question! Unfortunately I don't know the answer. Perhaps we have some folks on here who can shed some light?

      Ellie

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    2. Anonymous9/21/2017

      The green stuff in the water is an overgrowth of algae. Algae thrive in conditions where there are a lot of nutrients and the water is stagnant. Ellie said the area was used for farming, and farms are responsible for a lot of nutrients (e.g. manure and other fertilizers) getting into nearby bodies of water from runoff. Also, since the lake was created and not natural, there is probably no/minimal input and outflow to exchange the water with new water, and little movement of the water. In addition, established fish populations usually keep algae growth in check, but there probably weren't any fish there because of the mining. There definitely isn't any fish in there now because an algae bloom like that creates an hypoxic zone where there is not enough oxygen for anything else to survive.

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    3. Anonymous9/21/2017

      I thought it was algae. (If a dog is along and there is algae in the waters and the dog ingests that water, I have read that some algaes can have an affect on a dog that is deadly.)

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    4. Anonymous9/22/2017

      Algae bloom? As soon as I saw that lake, I thought it was an old quarry. Limestone quarries often have blue water, though. That looks like algae.

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  7. Anonymous9/20/2017

    I opened your blog yesterday and did not have time to read it. One of those moments when one realizes something is more complex and involved than they have time for. So I got back to it today. I found what you wrote very interesting and fun! You have a way of bringing your readers along and for awhile we can be right there with you exploring and discovering and imagining the whole scene, like it was once in its glory days. Then we're back on a healthy, invigorating hike with you going over the trails and landscape with the story items hidden all around. Thank you for taking the time before, during and after your ventures to sometimes share something unique, historical, etc. that are interesting, as well as the great scenery places you have been too.

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    1. Anonymous9/20/2017

      I absolutely agree! Ellie is a good writer...Jane

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    2. You both made my day. Thank you for your kind words. If you ever have any feedback or suggestions for posts, do let me know.

      I'm blessed to have you both as readers.
      Ellie

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  8. Anonymous9/20/2017

    I looked up the Elkmont place too. I don't think Ellie eould have memories going back to the times when these places were in use, and I just barely do but my parents and late grandparents might have those memories. In my heart I cherish that environment still, the things people did, the way life used to be, the buildings, people and activities. The nostelgia and love for all that can excite some strange and ambitious revival projects. But the overall dynamic of how things thrived is more than a sdingle hearted passion for the old days and attempt to get abit of it back. To be honest you have comforted me in letting o of a pipe dream to restore an old building near me. I have a bit more humility and willingness to let of an open ended Goliath sized project that was daunting and no one shared my enthusiasm for. Because of your post and comments and links I may be seeing mypassion for what it is and may be more willing o see the futility of spending ones life time trying to restore a little piece of the way things were, that is in my heart. In a way I praise and thsnk the Lord for this blog and how it has been a gentle nudge to me to move my attention and efforts on to realistic and relevant areas of my life. Thank you.

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    1. Anonymous9/21/2017

      Ok, I get you, so in that line of thinking what is the antonym for nostalgia?

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    2. Anonymous9/22/2017

      I think you're being nostalgic for a time that really didn't exist. There were wars, civil unrest, unequal rights, no cures or vaccines for diseases, barely social security for the elderly, few other social programs, limited technology, and economic depression. You can take those problems and apply them to almost any decade in human history! What you sound nostalgic for is how people acted "back then." Well many people still act that way - look around you. Not at the news, not online, but in your "real" life and in your community. Find the good - it's already there. Are you yourself acting the way you're nostalgic for? If not, change can start with you. Otherwise, time only goes one way, forward. Thank goodness.

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  9. Anonymous9/20/2017

    Hi Ellie I thought this might be of interest to you. In Ohio there is a park called Mohican State Park with many beautiful trails, so if you and Mr. Handsome are ever looking for a weekend get a way or a long weekend you might be up for this.

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    1. I'll add that to our list of places to see. Thank you!

      Ellie

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  10. Anonymous9/20/2017

    Thank you for sharing. I wish I had known about this place when we were at Fort Campbell because I would have loved to see it. Places like this fascinate me.

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    1. Neat that you were at Fort Campbell. How long were you there for?

      Ellie

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    2. Anonymous9/21/2017

      We were there for just under three years, and we hope to go back again someday:-)

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    3. Very nice! Northern TN/Southern KY is a beautiful area.

      Ellie

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