As we continue our 1940’s tour of the Upper Cumberlands, let’s think about the natural beauty that surrounds us and the draw that has always been to tourists. I have written here about Monterey’s history as a resort town. And I suppose when I think about the early part of the twentieth century, when the plateau was less populated and less modernized, I fail to imagine residents seeking outdoor recreation. That’s a silly assumption.
The March of Progress publication places great importance on the natural beauty of the mountain, and the public’s desire to enjoy it. Early in the book, the area recreational parks are presented. Today, we may take for granted the number of choices we have to fish, picnic or hike in a well-maintained, public park. But in 1940, these parks were a pretty new concept.
Seven specific parks are mentioned: Fall Creek Falls, Cumberland State Park, Pickett State Park, Standing Stone State Park, Morgan State Forest and The Rock Island Area. Except for Rock Island, all of these parks came into existence in the 1930’s with most being built using the labor of the Civilian Conservation Corps. A recreational area in Rock Island grew up around a private hydroelectric dam built on the Caney Fork River in 1917. That park wasn’t formally established until 1969 which explains our historic document referring to it only as an area. By including this sectionin their book, we see the pride citizens already had in the wilderness’ beauty. And, we can see that they already knew tourism was an industry that needed to be tapped.
The facing page of the park details is a collage of equine adventures. I am fascinated to see this because horseback riding has grown to be such a big attraction. While I grew up loving horses and riding and everything associated with the two, the attraction seems to have really grown up in the county over the past twenty years. Certainly the improvements to the Big South Fork River and Recreational Area in the 1980's offered a huge boost. Then, others who were passionate about those big ole’ loving horses opened other stables with riding trails and the trailers started rolling in. Well, those stable managers might correct me that it took just a bit more work than that, but can you imagine how happy the developers of the magazine would be to see the lines of horse trailers on a holiday weekend?
It is a short part of the book, but nestled between the beckoning calls of Livingston and Gainsboro, the reader of this document could have easily imagined the rest and relaxation he could enjoy on our “magnificent sweep of mountain”.