Grand Rivers is known
throughout the Mid-South and Mid-West as
Kentucky's Resort Village. She's a small burg (350
residents) with shoreline and resorts on both
Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. She has developed
into the place where vacationers and people who live
nearby flock for great boating, fishing, live
theater, great food and varied events throughout the
year. As a quaint little walking community that is
becoming ever more golf cart friendly, she compared
favorably with such high profile resort communities
as Mackinaw Island, Seaside, Carmel and
Provincetown. Come see for yourself and be ready to
be captivated. Our history is outlined below.
Grand Rivers is
fortunate geographically to be at what was in
the middle of the 19th century called
“The Narrows”. The point
where the two navigable rivers, The Tennessee
and The Cumberland, nearly come together. Later
this community became known as Nickell Station,
named after a prominent local family given a
Revolutionary War Land Grant in the area.
The train station here in town, the
bridges over the rivers and the water tower
where the steam locomotive picked up fresh water
for its boiler enabled the tiny town to grow.
Then, in 1890,
Thomas Lawson (a Massachusetts millionaire) was
asked by his investment banker to come to a new
town called Grand Rivers in
Kentucky to manage the iron ore furnace they
were building on the banks of the
Tennessee River. Thus, the
Grand Rivers Company and the town were born.
For a while, the town absolutely boomed.
Then the process
for manufacturing steel was developed.
Steel, being stronger and lighter than
iron, caused iron production to decline
precipitously around the turn of the century.
In the 1920’s the iron furnace shut down
government was formed in April of 1890.
There was an independent Grand Rivers
schools system which we’re told provided an
outstanding education. The
school building was tall and handsome, all brick
like the Boston Block, the largest building in
town which housed everything from groceries and
a pharmacy to apartments and a pool hall over
the years. It burned in the
late 1940’s. The school was
torn down in the 1960’s.
little of Grand Rivers’ built history and
heritage survives today. But
that is typical of America where buildings that provide us a link to our past and our
roots are disposed of much more quickly than in
European towns and cities.
It’s sad to see and we hope you will do anything
you can to help reverse the loss of buildings
that bespeak our past, whether grand or modest.
In the early 1940’s,
the federal government through the Works
Progress Administration, built Kentucky Dam on
the Tennessee River.
In 1937 along the
heartland’s rivers, the country experienced the
worst flooding of it’s history since Europeans
settled here. The dam was
built as part of an effort to control future
flooding. Then in the late
1950’s and early 1960’s, Barkley Dam was built.
Now there were two huge lakes here in Western
Kentucky. Between them was
an area of 180,000 acres
that the government had it’s eye
on for a recreation areasomewhat
similar to a national forest.
This land was taken by imminent
domain, just as the land bordering the
rivers had been for the lakes.
Thus, TVA’s Land Between the Lakes (LBL)
came to be in the 1960’s and the canal was
formed to join the two lakes.
This canal is the only waterway
joining the giant lakes and it forms the
northern border of LBL.
It also just happens to be about a mile
south of Grand Rivers.
look at the map tab on this site, you’ll see
how lucky Grand Rivers is to be bordered on
three sides by water and to have a huge – no
massive – park just at the edge of our tiny
town. With many, many
terrific golf courses in the area, 4 top
notch state parks around the lakes,
Paducah’s cultural offerings, two wonderful
resorts with marinas here in town, live
entertainment venues, about a quarter
million surface acres of water and clean,
safe and wholesome environs, Grand Rivers
has a great deal to offer campers.
Whether you prefer water sports,
fishing, hunting, hiking, nature watching
(catch our eagle watch weekends in LBL), or
just want a quiet yet convenient place to
relax; you just might have found just the
to learn more about our hamlet.