Clay County Chamber of Commerce

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Cumberland River 931-305-2925
7135 Burkesville Hwy., Celina, TN


About the Cumberland River...

During the early colonial period, the river was known as "Warioto" to the local Native Americans and as "Shauvanon" by French traders. It was also known as the "Shawnee" or "Shawonoe" before being known by its current name.

Important first as a passage for hunters and settlers, the Cumberland River also supported later riverboat trade which reached to the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Villages, towns and cities were located at landing points along its banks. Through the middle of the 19th century, settlers depended on rivers for trading and travel.

In 1750, Dr. Thomas Walker led a party of hunters across the Appalachian Mountains from Virginia, mapped and named the river for Prince William, Duke of Cumberland.

Previous to Walker's trip, the Cumberland River had been called Wasioto by Native Americans and Rivere des Chaouanons, or "river of the Shawnee," by French traders. The river was also known as the Shawnee River (or Shawanoe River) for years after Walker's trip.

In more recent history, a number of severe floods have struck various regions that the river flows through. In April of 1977, Harlan, KY and many surrounding communities were inundated with floodwaters, destroying most of the homes and businesses within the flood plain of the Cumberland River. This event led to the building of the Martins Fork Dam for flood control, the diversion of the Poor Fork around the city of Harlan, KY, as well as the diversion of the river through a mountain cut in Loyall, KY.

In late April and early May 2010, due to extensive rains, the Cumberland River overflowed its banks and flooded Nashville and Clarksville. The downtown area was ordered to evacuate.


Alabama adventurers follow rivers to Celina

by BOB WEAVER - HORZON Staff Writer

Captain Ron Beberniss and pilot Ron Cowan recently arrived here November 2011,aboard a 53-foot, trawler-style, hand-built, Ron Cowan and Ron Bebernisswooden boat named Annie.

After beginning near Florence, AL 16 days earlier, the pair traveled down the Tennessee and up the Cumberland rivers to anchor in the Obey here at Donaldson Park’s boat ramp.

Beberniss and Cowan walked to the Celina square where local antique shop owner Johnny ‘Booger’ McLerran learned their story and alerted the HORIZON.

After being interviewed at the newspaper’s office, the ‘rivermen’ were given a ride back to their vessel where they treated onlookers with tunes from a calliope installed on the top deck.

Click this picture to view movie and hear the boat's calliope music.

The voyage

The trip covered approximately 500 miles, included a three-night stop in Nashville where the men’s wives met them to enjoy the Grand Ol’ Opry, and featured an overnight at Granville to experience the Saturday night bluegrass music at the Sutton General Store.

Gainesboro was the next stop on Sunday. The two men climbed muddy banks and walked to the square, where they enjoyed the unique atmosphere.

“No matter which way we went around that square it was an uphill trip,” Cowan said with humor. “We thought that was interesting.”

A broken bracket on one of the twin diesels that power the boat caused them to anchor for the night just above the mouth of the Roaring river.

The next morning, Beberniss removed the bracket and climbed the bank to the Neilson factory whose shop personnel welded the broken part, allowing Annie to continue her journey up river to their final destination here.

The boat

Beberniss, with help and support from his wife Carol, built the wooden-hull craft over a period of 16 years while living near Houston, TX and practicing medicine as an emergency care physician.

He built the hull and decks, and furniture and trimmings turning every screw and even planing boards himself.

After launching the boat from League City, TX, a trip along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, into Mobile Bay, and up the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway led to Florence, where Ron and Carol now make their home.

Cowan and his wife reside in Athens, AL and are frequent travel companions of the Bebernisses.  Living close together, both men use Florence as a base to explore the rivers of the eastern United States.

2262082622 b6155ff925 s2261286313 834855e59b s   Photos by JAYS PHOTOS, Jay Martin January 1, 2008 with Olympus 770SW Camera

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