Murray Ledger & Times


Jaime Bennett, director of the U.S. Forest Service’s Land Between the Lakes Heritage Program, standing left, speaks to a group of about 20 people during a public forum at the Stewart County Library in Dover, Tenn., Saturday morning. The purpose of the forum and the program is to preserve the history and culture of LBL’s former residents.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Forest Service getting feedback on LBL’s Heritage Program

By TOM BERRY
Staff Writer - Murray Ledger & Times - http://www.murrayledger.com


DOVER, Tenn.—U.S. Forest Service officials say they want to preserve the history, heritage and culture of former residents of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area for future generations and are asking for stories, photographs and any other input from those who once lived there or their descendants.

Jamie Bennett, director of the Forest Service’s LBL Heritage Program, told a group of about 20 gathered at the Stewart County Library Saturday that Forest Service officials want their stories, photographs, records, letters, artifacts that would tell the story of those who once lived “between the rivers.”

Bennett said she is looking for participation in the project and has scheduled four public forums inviting those interested to get involved.

“The first thing we want to do is to find out if people want a heritage program at LBL,” Bennett said. “The second is do people want to be involved in that. Do they want to tell us what it should consist of and do they want to help us ... and the third one is are they willing to participate and be a part of it.”

Some of the suggestions from meetings that have taken place in Trigg County, Ky. and Dover so far include:
— identifying the locations of former schools, churches, graveyards, stores, restaurants, hotels and other public buildings in Golden Pond and other areas of LBL. Suggestions have been made that the locations be marked with signs at the various sites as well as along The Trace. The locations could also be placed on a map available to LBL visitors.
— creating a Between the Rivers cultural center at Bell City (Empire Farm).
— restoring Silo Overlook and a home at Model.
— maintaining all cemetery access roads.
—  placing signs at Mammoth Furnace.
— updating the cemetery list, including current contact people.
— locating and placing signage at the birthplace of Keene Johnson.

Darryl Cook, the son of a former LBL land owner who now lives in Trigg County, said the markers would be very important to preserving the history and culture of his family and those of many others.

“For example, there is a foundation for the Crockett’s Creek Baptist Church at the headwaters of Crockett’s Creek, which is now called Crockett’s Bay,” he said. “That church was established in 1806 and when it was torn down —  or rotted down, whatever happened to it — the original logs were still in that building. Now there is no sign and no way to tell where it is unless you know where it is and what it is.”

There was some concern among the participants Saturday that the Forest Service was not properly appreciative of the value of the history and heritage of the former residents of LBL, who were forced out of the area in the early 1960s by the federal government, because they have not been allowed  more influence in the operation of the park. They are also concerned about any plans to commercialize the area and its history.

Harold Dixon of Murray, a descendent of an LBL landowner, said the Forest Service should allow former residents still living, along with their descendants, to have a more influential voice at the table in any operational decisions concerning the area’s history because they are dealing with the “intellectual property” of the former landholders.

“I don’t see any steps that are being taken to trust us,” Dixon said. “We’re the people from the land and the government trusts us no better than somebody from California that has never seen the place.

We need a louder voice at the table than Joe Blow from California.”

Bennett said the purpose of the heritage program is to do just that and supported Dixon’s suggestion that representatives of the families living in the counties surrounding LBL form an official advisory committee that would act as consultant on the project in addition to input gathered during the forums.

“I don’t want to move on without talking to the people that lived there, the people that worked there, the people that had families and raised their children there,” she said.

“We’re doing the best we can and we are doing something...we welcome the families and communities to organize and contribute.”

She also pointed out that Forest Service officials are planning walking trails in the “Hog Jaw” area where many of the former residents lived.

“There were people who lived there and died there ... raised their children there,” she said. “Who were these people? What did they look like? That’s what we want to know.”

Bennett said Forest Service officials intend to collect the information and publish it in brochures to be handed out to LBL visitors as well as other means.

A third LBL Heritage Program forum has been scheduled from 10 a.m. until noon on Saturday at the Marshall County Public Library. Bennett said she was hoping that people from Benton, Murray and Paducah would take advantage of the meeting to provide their input.

A fourth forum has been scheduled from 10 a.m. until noon on Feb. 3 at the Lyon County Public Library in Eddyville.
For more information about the LBL Heritage Program contact Bennett by phone at (270) 924-2015 or by e-mail at jwbennett@fs.fed.us.