Today on our Nashville Waterfront series we are featuring the Caney Fork River. The 143 mile-long Caney Fork is one of the major streams draining the Cumberland Plateau and a major tributary of the Cumberland River.
The Caney Fork rises in Cumberland County and flows northwest to the Cumberland River where it rises in Cumberland County, about six miles west north-west of Crossville. At the confluence of the Caney River, Collins River and Rocky River is Great Falls Lake – a beautiful area where canoes and kayaks are often found.
A fun fact is that the Caney River played a large role in the development of DeKalb County, by providing drinking water, power and transportation. It is also a river with rich history. It had many grist and saw mills established on many of its creeks. Following the Caney Fork, one could travel down stream to Nashville or even New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. Its river banks are lined by a plethora of virgin timber, which was often cut down. At the river banks, the timber was constructed into river rafts, some even as big as 40 feet in width and 90 feet in length. A trip to Nashville on a river raft could take up to two weeks. In the 1880s, the river was full of mussels that contained valuable pearls, so from 1885 to 1915, Smithville, on the Caney River, became a leading fresh water pearl market with some pearls bringing in over $1,000!
Today, the Caney Fork River is known for its recreational uses. Kayaking, canoeing and camping are popular activities on the river.