PRINCESS THEATRE - Raising the Curtain: March 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Doug Mills, long time WBIR employee, and principal videographer for the “Heartland Series”, frequently assists Bill Landry with his Roane State media class. This week, Doug took David McCarthy, of Harriman, and me to the Obed Wild and Scenic River area near Wartburg; including the Lilly Bridge and Nemo Bridge Accesses. The purpose of the outing was to gather footage for a class assignment.

Landry assigned each of his class members the project of producing, shooting, and editing a 3-minute video clip promoting the many wonderful things there are to do in, and around Roane County. Each student was to choose which area they wanted to cover. David decided he wanted to work on the Obed River as his promotional theme.

The idea is that these clips will run “on loop” at a kiosk in the lobby of the Princess Theater once it is opened. The Princess will become a TDOT Trailhead Exhibit location. These looped videos will show the visitors to the Princess, some of the most important and exciting “things to do” in our area.

Doug, David, and I arrived at the Obed Visitor Center in Wartburg (across the street from the courthouse) early Wednesday morning. We obtained maps and chatted with the knowledgeable park ranger about the best vantage points along our planned route. There was no denying that the lady knew her park geographically, and we were soon on our way.

Before we knew it, we were parked at the Lilly Bridge which crosses Clear Creek. We loaded up our gear, for me it was quite easy since I was only packing my digital SLR, and headed down to the creek (looks more like a river to me). However, Doug and David had to lug their heavier video cameras and supporting tripods.

Even though the area was still dressed in winter clothes, there were hints of little red buds on the tips of spring’s flowering trees. The blue sky contrasting with the mid-green of the Obed River, and the dark green of the evergreens, was quite striking. Shooting north, I avoided the morning haze, and was able to take several pleasing shots of the country side with a deep blue sky background.

It’s as the promotional material states…wild and scenic! Each season will naturally give it a different look, but even the browns of winter are breath taking. As the suns moves across the sky, the view offers a different look with each passing hour. To me, these vistas always make me feel closer to my god, and proud to be an American and a Tennessean. It’s wild, it’s free, and it belongs to me!

We left the bridge and the valley floor and traveled several hundred feet higher to the Lilly Bluff Overlook. As soon as we stepped out on the overlook boardwalk, we were greeted by the local buzzards, flying just a few feet higher than the overlook. It was a wonderful prelude to the breathtaking view you can get from that lofty height!

Each of us took up and later exchanged positions around the overlook, standing there for longer than required to shoot the needed footage or take the desired photograph, but it was just too beautiful to not look at it longer with the naked eye. As you can see, I was in full awe of what I was seeing, and I sat there a long while just trying to burn the image into my brain for some raining day down the road.

We made our way back to Wartburg for a quick lunch and then pushed on back down into the Obed River Valley to the Nemo Access area.

Clear Creek runs into the Obed River north of the Nemo Rapids, and the Emory River runs into the combined waters just above the Nemo Bridge. The water flowing under the bridge is considered the Emory River from there.

At the Nemo Access, you will find a modern new bridge (the William Harry Kries Memorial Bridge) on which to cross the Emory River. However, the old steel girder bridge still stands, brightly rusting, as a pedestrian bridge for hikers. You have a feeling of walking back in time as you casually stroll across the river to the far side. It may be then, for the first time, out on this bridge, that you hear a distant rushing of water. It’s the powerful Class III rapids just 2 to 300 yards south of the bridge!

Down off the bridge, you can walk beneath both bridges to a sandy beach, where it’s obvious that generations have swum there in the summer, and perhaps partied there after dark. There are some broken beer bottles around, so that provides evidence that it still occurs today.

There used to be a nice leaning tree, equipped with wooden cross pieces nail up its trunk, from which you could cannonball into the cold waters of the Emory, but alas, someone has chain sawed it down! The resulting cut, with most of the weight hanging heavily toward the water, caused, what is known in the logging industry, as a “barber chair”! This type of splitting can be deadly, so it’s unknown what happened, if anything, to the person who took it upon themselves to cut the tree down.

Following the sound of the water around the sandy shore, you will eventually come to the “Nemo Rapids”. The Emory takes a dramatic left turn just below the bridge and heads straight into a rock wall. This steep rocky bluff forces the Emory to then turn back south and head on toward Oakdale, Tennessee, which is 10 miles further down stream. It then flows more slowly past Harriman and finally into the combined waters of the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers.

It all made for a wonderful day in the sun under a blue sky with good friends. You should go up there one day and just see what God hath made!

You can find more photos of this trip by clicking HERE!

I’m sure; visitors to the Princess will be impressed with what our local students create. I’m already impressed with them.

There are many people like them working hard behind the scenes to see that the dream comes true. This class, and these students, is just a few of these people. They are setting the ground work for the future!

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