During Andreas’ swim north through Kentucky Lake, there is a large mass of land to his starboard side. Should you cross that, you will find another lake called Lake Barkley. This area was formerly known as the “Land between the Rivers” (Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers to be exact) until Kentucky and Barkley Dams were constructed. Thanks to these projects and their subsequent creation of 2 lakes, this beautiful land is now known as the “Land between the Lakes” (LBL).
The formation of Lake Barkley produced a natural inland peninsula with Kentucky Lake on the other side. In 1959 as Barkley Dam was being constructed, the United States Army Corps of Engineers imagined a reserve that could provide not only a great source of recreation and fun, but also environmental education to the public. These hopes came to fruition in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy formally created the “Land between the Lakes” to become a recreational asset for the economic growth of the area despite having what was considered a limited amount of natural resources.
From 1964 to 1969 the federal government purchased what were privately owned lands in order to create this national reserve. There is still debate to this day on whether these families were forced out or provided an economic opportunity. Out of respect to this sacrifice, there are roads that reach more than 200 family cemeteries that are still there.
LBL is made up of over 170,000 acres of forest, wetlands, and open lands with around 300 miles of shoreline. The area is home to a vast array of wildlife including bobcats, coyotes, beavers, bison, elk, over 250 species of birds, and an incredibly diverse assemblage of fish in North America. As for the scenery, 1,300 flora species help to create one of the most beautiful habitats in the country.
The amount of activities to partake in at LBL is about as large as the wildlife and flora populations. People can take part in camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, boating, observing the wildlife, water sports, and hunting. If you are still unsure of what to do, there are 5 attractions a visitor can attend to point them in the right direction. Those attractions are The Nature Station, Elk & Bison Prairie, Golden Pond Planetarium, The Homeplace (a working 19th century farm), and Eagle Tours. With 1.5 million visitors annually, there is something for everyone at the Land between the Lakes.