Dec 22 - The Tenn-Tom

Not many people know about it, but the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (the Tenn-Tom for short) is an alternative route for commercial barges and private watercraft to travel between the nation's midsection and the Gulf of Mexico.

Taking advantage of the natural closeness of the Tennessee River and the Tombigbee River near the border of Mississippi and Tennessee, the oft talked about and proposed waterway became a reality in 1984 after a 12 year project that ultimately became the largest earth moving project in the history of the world. I know it boggles the mind (at least it did mine) but more than 300 million cubic yards of dirt and rock were moved... more than was moved during the building of the Panama Canal.  The major features of the waterway are 10 locks and dams, a 175-foot deep by 29 mile long cut between the Tombigbee River watershed and the Tennessee River watershed, and 234 miles of navigation channels. Total cost was just under $2 Billion.

We're camped just a few hundred feet from the waterway and the Demopolis Lock and Dam. From our campsite we and can see and hear barge tows plying the river. Until you get out and explore a little, things like this are easily overlooked.

courtesy of GoogleMaps, our camp is the blue-ish marker and the Demoplis Lock and Dam are seen in the upper/slightly left portion of the photo.

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