Kentucky Lake borders Stewart County to the west. Lake Barkley borders Stewart County to the east. The 170,000-acre Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area borders the county to the north. And finally, right in the center of Stewart County, you'll find Fort Donelson, the site of a major battle during the Civil War. Stewart County offers much for those who love the great outdoors!
Fort Donelson National Battlefield
During the Civil War of the 1860s, the Union forces were heading south to fight the Confederacy. Fort Donelson was key because of its location on the Cumberland River. When Fort Donelson was captured by the Union in February 1862, it was their first major victory for the Civil War. With the fort under Union control, they now had the door open to the Confederacy. At Fort Donelson, visitors can learn about the battle, view the earthworks and cannons, and take a walk through the area on one of two trails. There also are areas for picnics, parking, and strolls along the Cumberland River. At Fort Donelson, you can also visit the Fort Donelson National Cemetery and the Dover Hotel, a historic building where the Confederate surrender took place on February 16, 1862. You can contact the Fort Donelson National Battlefield Visitor's Center at (931) 232-5706. The visitor's center is located off Highway 79 just west of the heart of Dover. Read more about Fort Donelson in Explorations.
Land Between The Lakes
Dover serves as the southern entrance of The Land Between The Lakes. Administered by the U.S. Forest Service since October of 1999, the agency took control after TVA was denied appropriations by Congress for the upcoming fiscal year. The LBL Protection Act was passed in 1998 by Congress to shift control of the massive peninsula from the TVA to the U.S. Forest Service. LBL was created in the late 1960s after Lake Barkley was formed. Today LBL features hiking trails, backpacking, camping, hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, historical attractions, biking, an off-road vehicle area, swimming, environmental education programs, indoor educational facilities, and so much more. LBL boasts over one million visitors each year.
Kentucky Lake - 184 miles long, over 2,300 miles of shoreline, 160,000 acres of water - is one of the world's largest man-made lakes. Kentucky Lake was built when a dam was constructed in Gilbertsville, KY, on the Tennessee River, beginning in the late 1930s. Kentucky Dam was completed in 1944; it began holding back the waters of the mighty Tennessee. The flood waters from the river is now known as Kentucky Lake.
Today, Kentucky Lake serves many purposes. Kentucky Dam, operated by the TVA, generates electricity for the region. Kentucky Lake also provides flood control on the lower Tennessee River, as well as the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Kentucky Lake provides navigable waterways for shipping of materials. Kentucky Lake also provides tourism to west Kentucky and northwest Tennessee with its beautiful waters, gorgeous sunsets, and endless family fun. Find more about Kentucky Lake here.
The Cumberland River was dammed near Grand Rivers, KY in 1964 to form Lake Barkley. The flood waters of Lake Barkley create an interesting landscape for Stewart County. At summer pool, Lake Barkley seems to be everywhere, especially in the areas east of the river. At winter pool, when the elevation is four to five feet less than normal, most of the lake is marsh-like and very shallow in the Dover area. Nevertheless, Lake Barkley is great for fishing, boating, and other recreational activities. Click here for more info on Lake Barkley!
The Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge has 8,862 acres administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, for the purpose of wildlife management and preservation, particularly migratory waterfowl. Services include wildlife protection and management recreation, such as fishing, hiking, limited hunting, bird viewing, environmental education, and more. For more information, contact the Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge Visitor's Center at (931) 232-7477.
Pictured top to bottom: Fort Donelson National Battlefield overlooking the Cumberland River and Lake Barkley/Cumberland River looking toward the U.S. 79 bridge at Dover.