Thursday, August 19, 2010

Semi-Staycation, Part Five

Chain Across the Mississippi

On the Kentucky side of the Mississippi, atop a cliff, there is a most unusual relic of the Civil War. Columbus-Belmont State Park memorializes the attempt to stop Union Gunboats from traveling down the river. Confederate General Leonidas Polk commanded the fort on the bluff, and came up with the idea of stretching a huge chain across the Mississippi--but it didn't work. The gunboats sailed right over it.

The failed strategy was forgotten--actually treated as a legend--until torrential rains in the 1920's eroded the earthen fortifications, revealing the giant chain and anchor. They were then put on display, and the area was made into a pleasant park.

Although the wooden fort is long gone, the bunkers are still clearly carved into the hillside, looking today much like earthwork fortifications from prehistoric times. There are picnic tables, a playground, and a small museum--a lovely place for families to spend a summer afternoon, and indeed, we saw families doing exactly that despite the sweltering heat wave  that has consumed Kentucky all this summer.

Next week: Walk Around Lake Hematite


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