Narrows of the Harpeth

5 May

My wife came up with the idea to go hiking, and I thought it was an excellent suggestion. We have done a little hiking together before. The first time was the Alum’s Cave Bluff Trail in the Great Smokey Mountains. Another time was around a volcano in Costa Rica. Those were hikes while dating. This was our first hike as a married couple.

It was up to me to find a place close by, and I settled on the Narrows of the Harpeth Trail in Harpeth River State Park. It would be new territory for the both of us.

The park is just past Pegram, which is west of Nashville. That is opposite of us. I plugged in the GPS, who I fondly refer to as The Bitch, and headed west on Interstate 40. I have to give The Bitch credit. She took us to within a few hundred feet of the trailhead.

The Narrows is a rock outcropping that sits in a narrow bend of the Harpeth River. It is mostly used as a place for people to fish or begin a kayaking excursion. The bend is so narrow that the river almost comes back and runs into itself. Other people may fish or kayak. We were going to hike.

The first part of the trail is an incline that takes you to an overlook. From this perspective, you can see the surrounding landscape. Immediately in front of us was beautiful farmland.image-22

There was also a great view of the river below.image-23

After making our way back down, we walked to the other side of the bend and walked along the river bank.


At the end of this trail, we found something historic, and everyone knows how I like to find something historic. To put simply, it was a tunnel with water shooting out of it.


However, this was not just any tunnel. It is one of the oldest manmade tunnels in the United States. Montgomery Bell, a wealthy industrialist, used slave labor to dig a diversion tunnel as a power source for his ironworks, Pattison Forge.

Watching the water surge from the tunnel, I thought of several things.

There was once an industrial complex at this site, and, now, it is a nature trail. I wonder what Bell would think of his investment being totally gone. This tunnel is all that is left.

Also, people have a misconception of the life of slaves in the antebellum South. They think of people working in a cotton or a tobacco field. However, slaves were forced to work in other economic areas, as well. I cannot imagine the hard work and suffering it took to dig a 290-foot tunnel through solid rock. These people were not forced to work in agriculture. This was big industry.

As we walked back, I thought about a story I once heard. Some former students were kayaking in an inebriated state and went into a forbidden tunnel. I heard the story of their terrifying ride through darkness without knowing where they were headed. Suddenly, the water fell away and only air was underneath them. Suddenly, it hit me that this was the tunnel.

We decided that on our return trip we would kayak instead of hike. However, I am not going to make my way into the tunnel. I believe the best view of the tunnel is from the outside. The slaves who built it and the students who ventured into it would probably agree with me.

6 Responses to “Narrows of the Harpeth”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong May 5, 2014 at 03:36 #

    Looks gorgeous!

    • Rick May 5, 2014 at 13:30 #

      It was awesome. I really didn’t know anything about it until we went.

  2. satanicpanic May 5, 2014 at 04:16 #

    Farmland can be really beautiful- I love nature, but it’s also kind of amazing to see what people can bring out of the ground, especially if they can make it fit into the surrounding scenery. I’d never really thought of it that way.

    • Rick May 5, 2014 at 13:31 #

      This was a great place to explore. The state park only covers the river and its banks. It was interesting to see working farms that close to a recreational area.

  3. seniorhiker May 5, 2014 at 15:44 #

    I enjoyed your visit to the Narrows. We didn’t hike to the overlook when we were there — that’s on our list for next time.


  1. The Great Month of May | Surrounded By Imbeciles - May 31, 2014

    […] Narrows of the Harpeth […]

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