COLUMBUS, Ky. — The centerpiece and point of interest of the quaint, quiet, historic Columbus-Belmont State Park needs to be the Mississippi River.
The 160-acre picturesque park sits atop a towering bluff on the Kentucky shore of the massive river, which appears to seamlessly slide previous — flowing proper to left from the park’s vantage level. It’s generally busy with barge visitors due to a business granary on the Missouri shore. From the bluff vantage level the barges seem as toys.
It’s an imposing view loved by all who go to. However the anchor and chain rival the river as the primary attraction.
“Lots of people do just like the anchor,” stated park supervisor Cindy Lynch. “It could be probably the most photographed factor within the park.”
The iron anchor is greater than 15 toes lengthy with 6-foot flukes. It weighs about 5 tons and was used to safe a mile-long chain, the hyperlinks of which have been every almost a foot lengthy and about three dozen that are on show with the anchor. Episcopal bishop turned Accomplice Common Leonidas Polk ordered the chain positioned throughout the Mississippi within the fall of 1861 to dam Union boat visitors lengthy sufficient to focus on the boats with cannon hearth.
The chain’s effectiveness as a blockade instrument is unknown. Polk’s forces did skirmish with Union troops on the Missouri aspect of the river, from which either side claimed victory. The bluff fortress, nevertheless, which was armed with greater than 100 cannons, proved impregnable. However in March 1862, Polk’s superiors ordered the bluff stronghold deserted. Union forces rapidly moved in and eliminated many of the chain. The anchor, which was buried within the bluff, was forgotten.
Then got here the Nice Mississippi River Flood of 1927, which laid waste to numerous river cities, together with Columbus. However the raging waters additionally uncovered a part of the Civil Warfare-era anchor and a remnant of the chain. The invention sparked curiosity in preserving the realm as a park, which was established in 1934 with assist from the Civilian Conservations Corps.
Right this moment, Columbus-Belmont is likely one of the jewels of the Kentucky State Park system. A lot of the rolling panorama is in hardwoods however the groomed sections, together with the show across the anchor and chain, are clear, trimmed and immaculate. Lynch stated the small, off-the-beaten-path park attracts native in addition to worldwide guests.
The park has extra to supply than an anchor and chain, in fact. Different Civil Warfare relics are on show, together with a number of cannons and a museum housed in an 1850s-era farmhouse that was used a Civil Warfare hospital. Stays of earthwork fortifications dot the park panorama.
There’s additionally a 2.5-mile climbing path and a small campground that affords a shocking view of the Mississippi. The park is suffering from picnic shelters and a number of other paved pathways supply wheelchair and handicapped entry. There’s a seasonal retailer and mini golf course. The customer’s middle consists of a number of assembly amenities.
Columbus-Belmont is each a well-liked day use and tenting vacation spot. Campground reservations are really helpful in the course of the summer season season.
Extra: State park snapshot: Ponca exhibits a special aspect of Nebraska
In case you go
Columbus-Belmont State Park is situated off State Route 58 in Columbus, Ky. It’s open year-round. Some amenities are seasonal. In a single day amenities embody 38 campsites, two rental tenting trailers and a primitive log cabin. For extra data contact the park workplace at 270-677-2327. parks.ky.gov/parks/recreationparks/columbus-belmont
Gary Garth writes a month-to-month outside column for USA TODAY.
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