NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 1, 2022) – A poem inscribed in a trip logbook five years ago has newfound attention for how it chronicles the magnificence of the Cumberland River.
In 2018 the Nashville District celebrated its 130th Anniversary with a team building voyage of the Cumberland River. Employees and family members cruised their way in canoes, kayaks, and boats downriver over 650 of 694 miles of the waterway. The voyage also drew attention to the Nashville District’s rich history of development of the basin since 1888.
The 51-leg journey started at the confluence of Clover Fork, Martins Fork, Kent and Poor Fork of the Cumberland River in Harlan, Kentucky and was completed at Smithland Boat Ramp on Cumberland River below Barkley Dam at the confluence of the Ohio River in Smithland, Kentucky.
Safety Officer John Schnebelen Sr. and his grandson Zander Poulton completed leg 22 of the voyage. They canoed from Celina to just north of Gainesboro, Tennessee, taking in 11 miles of the picturesque river.
“We paddled down the Obey River tributary enjoying the morning sights of turtles, birds and waterfowl, getting our sea legs under us before braving the Cumberland, not knowing what to expect,” Schnebelen said. “Once we reached the confluence of the Cumberland River we were pleasantly surprised by the lumbering river and its gentle flow. With the water movement as it was, we found no need to paddle excessively to reach our destination, nor did we want to.”
Schnebelen explained that he remembered that the commander encouraged participants to take photos or perhaps even write a poem, which intrigued him.
“Once I began writing around mile 5 or 6, it just wouldn’t stop. Seeing the cliffs, the fog hovering above the river, the deer, hummingbirds, an Eagle, hearing the calling of crows, the poem wrote itself,” he said.
Schnebelen inserted his poem into the trip logbook at the end of his memorable voyage, and the rediscovered timeless entry is now being shared for all who love the Cumberland River to reflect on and enjoy.
Ode To The Cumberland River
She greets me like an old friend
Her waters teeming with life
Her skies reverberate winged hymns
Her shores providing sanctuary without discretion
I marvel at her majestic cliffs
And the path she has carved over time
Both inspiring yet unforgiving
Her might exceeding my imagination
She’s lazy but overpowering
Her waters cold and clear, a comforting hue of green
Constantly moving, restless yet serene
Her embrace is like a warm blanket
Her fragrance as sweet as honey
She reveals her secrets at her discretion
Stirring my imagination
Her contradictions intrigue me
Her current transports me to an inevitable destination
She’s welcoming, a nurturing mother
Lifting spirits like the morning fog
My anxieties vanish as the deer who thrive
Along her banks, enticing me to return.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)