When Josh Hite and I innocently turned down Blackburn Ford Road on our morning run of Friday, August 27, 2010, we didn’t know we were headed for the scene of water’s most forceful devastation we’d ever seen. That day we waded the river and scrambled through house-sized piles of tangled trees. Three of the four bridges crossing the river, along with their abutments and piers, had been scattered by the flood’s immense force. Judy Richardson, who lives in a house on ground barely high enough to survive the flood and overlooking one of the bridges swept away, said it looked like the Colorado River had coursed through that narrow valley.
What Josh and I saw that day astonished us. We rambled the length of the gorge in amazement. Several hours and twenty-two miles later we found ourselves in Gainesboro, hungry, dehydrated and exhausted from exploring and running through the August heat. His wife Martha drove from Cookeville to Gainesboro to pick us up. A year later my account of that run became Chapter 40 in the book Going Down Slow (2011).
Today, Josh and I made our second anniversary run down the river. The run has become an annual habit. Things have changed remarkably for the better there since last year, and certainly since two years ago. The road has been raised and rebuilt, the section at Judy Richardson’s house paved even. In places where the road comes close to the river, rip-rap has been placed on tall embankments which should resist future undercutting. The piles of trees have been mostly removed. The bridge at Zion Road has been replaced by a longer and higher bridge, remnants of the old collapsed bridge hauled away.
Read the full story by Dallas Smith by clicking HERE