Coldhearted River

A Canoe Odyssey Down the Cumberland

  • Author(s): Trevathan, Kim
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2006-05-30
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $24.95 | Buy Now

Coldhearted River recounts the canoe odyssey of Kim Trevathan and photographer Randy Russell down the Cumberland River-almost 700 miles-from Harlan, Kentucky, through Middle Tennessee and Nashville, then back into western Kentucky, where it spills into the Ohio.

The Cumberland presented spectacular gifts to the adventurers: the morning when tiny fog tornadoes swirled gently around their paddles and the night above Cumberland Falls when they built a fire on a beach and watched rapids flash across the river. But, as it presented gifts, the river also presented danger. A fifteen-hour rain downstream of Wolf Creek Dam raised the river eight feet overnight, and a thunderstorm blew 60-mile-per-hour winds, forcing them to seek refuge under their canoe near a cornfield. Trevathan and Russell met many who helped them on their journey. Among others, a fisherman portaged them and their boat around a low-head dam near Pineville, and Vic Scoggin-who swam the length of the Cumberland in 1996-met them for a fried chicken dinner at Salt Creek Campground in Middle Tennessee.

Coldhearted River explores the river’s past, invoking the ghosts of the Shawnee and Cherokee, Daniel Boone and the French fur trappers who arrived before him, early settlers of Kentucky and Tennessee, such as James Robertson and John Donelson, and a binge-drinking ex-farmer named Ulysses Grant, who won his first significant battle at Fort Donelson, early in the Civil War. Entertaining and nostalgic, Coldhearted River will put readers at the bow of Trevathan and Russell’s journey as the river controlled it-at its own pace, sometimes slow, sometimes fast and turbulent, but never dull, and never disappointing.