Duck River God's Gift to Tennessee
Map of entire Duck River
Since I live just a stones throw from the Duck River, I decided it is time to write an article about it, which would require research and a chance to get to know it better. A February 2010 article in National Geographic concluded that the Duck River was 'the richest river in variety of freshwater animals' on the North American continent. That is why I created the title to my article The Duck River God's Gift to Tennessee.
I had heard many times from the local inhabitants of the town in which I live ( Shelbyville ) that it has the most diverse species of fish in the United States. Upon further research I have found that it has 151 fish species, 55 freshwater mussel species and 22 aquatic snail species.
Because mussels are very sensitive to pollution and are actually thriving in the Duck River, their presence goes a long way in providing proof of the water quality of the river.
Many other animals thrive in the Duck River eco-system including but not limited too, river otters, minks and beavers. Many species of birds thrive in the rich environment the Duck River provides such as osprey, hawks, herons and a wide variety of ducks from which it gets its name. Bald Eagles the symbol of American freedom can often be seen along the Duck River eco-system.
The Duck River meanders through 284 miles of Middle Tennessee, originating from an area known as the Highland Rim. It meets up with the Little Duck River at the city of Manchester which is a minor tributary. This confluence meets at the Old Stone Fort State Park named after one of the oldest ( 2,000 years old ) Native American freestanding structures in North America.
Typical Duck River Scenery
The headwaters of the Duck River begin in what is known as the Highland Rim, at an elevation of nearly 1,200 feet. This area was the traditional home of the Chickasaw Native Americans known as fierce warrior's, as opposed to their closest relatives the Choctaw which were more of an agricultural tribe.
This area of Tennessee near the site of the Old Stone State Park in Manchester has shown evidence of being inhabited by Native Americans for nearly 8,000 years.
The interesting aspect of the Duck River is that for the most part this river flows from East to West where it empties into the Tennessee River near the town of New Johnsonville. The Duck is only the second river in Tennessee since 1970 to be named a State Scenic River, which is designated from the Iron Bridge Road to the Maury and Marshall County line, a stretch of 37 miles.
Its main tributary is the Buffalo River, named for the fish of the same name that inhabits its waters. The Buffalo River is the only non impounded river in the State of Tennessee and empties into the Duck near its mouth at the Tennessee River.
The largest town on the Duck River is Columbia with a population of nearly 40,000 people, otherwise it flows through mostly rural uninhabited regions of the Central Basin and Western Highland Rim.
Headwaters of the Duck River
Little Duck River
Yanahli State Park
Floating down the Duck River is a peaceful and enjoyable experience for any outdoor enthusiast, whether you are there to fish or just enjoy the scenery. There are many ways to enjoy this river's diverse ecology, but renting a canoe or kayak from any one of a number of outfits offers the most unique view and is friendly to the budget.
The Yanahli Wildlife Management Area was designated a Tennessee resource in 2002, by the TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency) for public use and is made up 12,600 acres near the town of Columbia.
Yanahli which is a Chickasaw word that means 'to flow' is also the name of a local canoe and kayak rental company run by Tennessee native Steve Tyndall called the Yanahli Kayak & Canoe Co. which offers affordable trips down this beautiful river. There are other companies that offer the same services but his was the only company willing to talk to me when writing the article so he gets the nod.
The Duck River while offering visitors a beautiful and diverse eco-system is also unique in the fact that it has many endangered species of plants and aquatic animals living in or around it. Some of these animals and fauna are (but not limited too), the birdwing pearly mussel (Lemiox rimosus), the leafy prairie clover (Dalea foliosa), the limestone blue star (Amsonia tabernaemontana var. gattingeri), and the limestone flame flower (Talinum calcaricum) to name a few.
There are also a rare species of wood rat and gray bats that live in the area of the Rummage Cave system that covers an area of 50 acres. This cave is system has a series of five oval 'rooms' that are 15 feet high by 30 feet wide, perfect for tribes of indigenous people to live in.
According to archaeological research done by the University of Tennessee, small bands of hunter/gatherers have used the Cheek Bend Cave system for over 10,000 years.
This area of the Duck River offers boaters long deep pools that alternate between shallow stretches of mini-rapids. Many different species of trees live on the banks of this river including cedars, sycamores, willows and oaks. This area is also a great spot for fisherman interested in catching small game fish such as smallmouth bass, striped bass, rock bass and what locals call redeye a hybrid bass, catfish are also abundant.
- Chickasaw Indian History
Chickasaw Indian History
- Duck River (Tennessee) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Yanahli Wildlife Management Area
- Tennessee’s Duck River | The Nature Conservancy
The Duck River is classified by scientists as the richest river in varieties of freshwater animals on the North American continent.