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A: That depends. According to an official memorandum of policy from the Directorate of Civil Works and dated March 10, 1989, metal detectors are allowed under certain conditions. The use of metal detectors will be allowed on public beaches or other previously disturbed areas that do not contain or would not reasonably be expected to contain archaeological, historical, or paleontological resources. Nonidentifiable items, such as coins of nominal value ($25.00 or less) do not need to be deposited with the natural resource manager or ranger. Identifiable items (rings, watches, etc.) or items or greater than nominal value will be deposited with the natural resource manager or ranger. Digging shall be limited to hand tools that can be used by one hand only. Hand tools shall be limited to 4 inches wide and 12 inches long. All trash uncovered must be removed and placed in an approved trash receptacle. All soil disturbed or displaced shall be returned to its original state. In addition, we would ask that any such approved use of metal detectors take place during times when it will not interfere with the public’s recreational use of an area, i.e. not on busy weekends at beaches and recreation areas.
Cheatham Lake is an impoundment of the Cumberland River with 320 miles of shoreline. It is 67.5 miles long and extends all the way from Cheatham Dam through Nashville to Old Hickory Dam. In its upper reaches, the lake generally consists of a deepened river channel and is often referred to as a river. However, water levels and flows in these upper reaches are also controlled by the dam.
The water is approximately 40 feet deep at the dam. Lake levels are controlled to provide a navigable channel with a minimum depth of 9 feet all the way upstream to Old Hickory Dam. However, deeper areas are present along the high bluffs found throughout the lake.
Surface water temperatures at the dam range from 36 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to 84 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.
The lock is open to recreational craft at no charge. However, barge tows and other commercial vessels have priority. The lock is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A single lockage takes about 30 minutes.
Red lights flash and a warning horn sounds prior to generation. Boaters must wear life jackets in the posted area below the dam.
Boaters may purchase gasoline and diesel fuel dockside at Riverview Marina in Ashland City, Tennessee and Commodore Yacht Club and Rock Harbor Marina on the west side of Nashville, Tennessee.
Camping is permitted in only in designated areas. Lock A Campground provides 45 campsites with water and electrical hookups. Harpeth River Bridge Campground has 15 developed campsites with water and electrical hookups. Both areas have resident park attendants on duty during the recreation season. Base fees for campsites are $20-25 at Lock A and $20 at Harpeth River Bridge. Camping elsewhere on public lands along the shoreline, including islands, is prohibited.
The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County provides the stadium dock for temporary, event-related use only. Demand for moorage on game days is very high, and a lottery is held to assign available spaces. To inquire about reservations and fees, call Metro's agent, Hamilton Creek Marina, at (615) 862-8472 before the month of June each year.
Except for a few small parks in Davidson County, the public lands on Cheatham Lake are located in Cheatham and Dickson Counties. Excluding developed recreation areas, marinas, and designated safety zones, hunting is allowed on public property subject to state game laws and regulations. Please remember that you must have the permission of the owner to cross private property to get to public property. Also, state regulations prohibit hunting within 100 yards of any dwelling.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency manages most of the larger tracts of public land around the lake under a license agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Hunting opportunities for waterfowl, big game, and small game abound in this Wildlife Management Area. Special permits are required for hunting within the Wildlife Management Area. For more information, contact the Area Manager at (615) 792-4510.
A $5 daily fee is charged during the peak recreation season for use of the recreational facilities in Cheatham Dam Right Bank Recreation Area. This fee applies to each vehicle or boat entering this recreation area, whether its occupants picnic, swim at the beach, play at the playgrounds, launch a boat, fish from the bank, or use one the four picnic shelters. Annual passes are available for $40. These passes are accepted in day use areas at any lake managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The rules and regulations that apply to all lakes managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are listed in Title 36, Chapter III, Part 327 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Visitors are bound by these regulations. Copies are available at the Resource Manager's Office and all park entrance stations.
The Cheatham Lake Shoreline Management Plan provides specific policies and guidelines on private recreational boat docks, mowing/underbrushing privileges on public lands, electrical facilities associated with private docks, residential water withdrawal pipelines, access steps, and other private uses of the shoreline by adjacent property owners. The objective of this plan is to balance private use with the preservation of the natural environmental conditions of the lake. The plan includes a shoreline allocation system that determines where such private use privileges and facilities are allowed and where they are prohibited. For more information, download the plan text and/or contact the Resource Manager.
It's 42.3 miles to Riverfront Park at the foot of Broadway and 45 miles to the public boat launching ramp at Shelby Park. Heading downstream, it's 22.7 miles from the Lock and Dam to McGregor Park in Clarksville, Tenn.