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Old 01-25-2020, 07:24 AM
 
Location: Putnam County, TN
1,058 posts, read 342,278 times
Reputation: 715

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Topography and Hydrology
Spoiler
These are the county's rivers and large creeks, as well as the best ways to see them.
--Caney Fork River. By far the largest one and the only truly big one. The best way to see this within Putnam County is by going to the Happy Hollow Boat Ramp along S.R. 96 south of Buffalo Valley. This is the best of the rivers for canoeing or fishing.
--Falling Water River. Indisputably the second largest stream in Putnam County. The best way to see it is by going to Burgess Falls State Park, located along S.R. 135 at the Putnam/White County line. Alternatively, you can see this by going to the point where it enters Center Hill Lake, either by boat or by hiking the rocky lake beaches.
--Calfkiller River. Accessing this is no joke. Unless you get permission from a neighboring landowner or own land along it, there seems to be no legal way to access it within Putnam County.
--Mine Lick Creek. This is also a tributary of Center Hill Lake. Unfortunately, the easiest way to access it is by putting in at the lake boat ramp at Carrs Chapel Road, paddling upstream to the entry point then hiking up the creek from there. (NOTE: It isn't trespassing as long as you stay in the streambed.) While P.O.W. Road does dead end at the creek, this makes it a risky proposition during times of high water, and you'll need a four-wheel drive vehicle in low to get back uphill safely. It begins as a small stream in downtown Baxter before going through a culvert in I-40, getting big and drying up, in that order. The portion from I-40 downstream is steep like a canyon, hence there is no road bridging it further downstream nor following it.
--Cane Creek. The easiest way to see this is by going to Window Cliffs State Natural Area at the dead end of Old Cane Creek Road. The hike is strenuous, as you have to go down a hill then come back up. There are no bridges over the creek, so you WILL get wet, and going during times of high water is incredibly dangerous.
--Spring Creek State Scenic River. Like the Calfkiller River, there seems to be no legal way to access this in Putnam County unless you either own adjacent land or can obtain permission from an adjacent landowner.
--West Blackburn Fork Creek. This major tributary of the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River seems to once again have no public access within Putnam County.
--East Blackburn Fork Creek. This major tributary of the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River seems to once again have no public access within Putnam County.
--Little Creek. Major tributary of West Blackburn Fork Creek with same difficulty of legal access.
--Pigeon Roost Creek. Legally accessing this major tributary of the Falling Water River is similarly difficult.
--Martin Creek. Finally, we come back to western Putnam County. Accessing this legally entirely within Putnam County faces the same challenges. However, the Martin Creek Boat Ramp of Cordell Hull Lake on S.R. 96 is only right across the Putnam/Jackson County line, so you could canoe upstream as far as you can then walk as far up the streambed as your heart desires. This is the best of the creeks for canoeing.
--Indian Creek. Here we have our final entry. For one with no lake nor park, this one is surprisingly easy. You could simply canoe the Caney Fork River from the Happy Hollow Boat Ramp on S.R. 96 to the Betty's Island Boat Ramp in neighboring Smith County. Indian Creek is the large creek on your right between the railroad bridge and first interstate bridge. As with all the others, you may hike as far upstream as the streambed goes once your legal access is complete. The nickname for this creek's fertile valley "Buffalo Valley" is how the small town of the same name was named. This is a good creek for fishing, and its size combined with year-round water and easy access probably makes it the best place in the county for crayfishing.

Lakes
--Center Hill Lake has portions within Putnam County that can be accessed via the boat ramp at the dead end of Carrs Chapel Road. This is the only boat ramp within the county, and there are no marinas in the county. This is the third deepest lake in all of Tennessee, with the deepest point right behind Center Hill Dam being 195 feet deep. This is the best of the three lakes for swimming or fishing.
--Cane Creek Lake is the most obvious one: go to Cane Creek Park off of CC Camp Road in Cookeville. The park's and lake's location were literally chosen solely due to its public accessibility and urban setting. No swimming is allowed in this lake!
--Cookeville City Lake can be accessed by going to City Lake Natural Area off of Bridgeway Drive.

Elevation...
--Highland Rim/Nashville Basin. In western Putnam County, we have an escarpment with many hardwood forests. Forests of Virginian Juniper, commonly but incorrectly known as Red Cedar, are the most common evergreens, but their slow growth and shade intolerance renders them infrequent. This is where Center Hill Lake, the Caney Fork River, Mine Lick Creek, Martin Creek and Indian Creek are, so it's the best part of the county for water-based activities. The valley floors are usually around 600 feet in elevation and ridgetops around 1,000 feet, but this varies on a case by case basis.
--Highland Rim. In central Putnam County, the plateau that is the uninterrupted Highland Rim is relatively flat. Most of this is 900 to 1,200 feet above sea level, the primary exceptions being along Spring Creek, along Center Hill Lake and in certain outlying remnants of the Cumberland Plateau.
--Cumberland Plateau. In eastern Putnam County, we have a plateau that has two tiers: an edge roughly 1,400 to 1,600 feet in elevation and the main portion roughly 1,800 to 2,100 feet above sea level. However, lower portions do exist thanks to the erosive action of the Falling Water and Calfkiller rivers, creating small mountains along the edges of these valleys. In reality, the Cumberland Plateau is no different than the Allegheny Plateau; it's just that people usually call the never-glaciated subtropical part Cumberland and recently-glaciated temperate part Allegheny.

Window Cliffs are a unique feature along Cane Creek in the Window Cliffs State Natural Area. The hike is a strenuous four-mile roundtrip to see it and five-and-a-half-mile roundtrip to climb on top. WARNING: Climbing on the sides, even if to save yourself from falling, is illegal. Climbing on top is very dangerous.


Cities and Towns
Spoiler
Cookeville is the county seat and largest city. It is a midsized city, its intermediate size making it (from my experience) socially more like a small town/city but economically more like a major city. In reality, however, it is neither small nor major; it's noticeably urban, but it doesn't really stand out on a national level like a 100,000+ city does.

Algood is the county's other city and a suburb of Cookeville. It is the most developed of all of the towns/cities besides Cookeville.

Baxter is one of the county's two incorporated towns and a suburb of Cookeville. It is the source of Mine Lick Creek and the gateway to western Putnam County, being in the transition zone between the flat, urban central part of the county and hilly, rural western part.

Monterey is the second of the county's incorporated towns. Unlike Baxter and Algood, it is not a suburb of Cookeville; as such, it's arguably the least developed of the four.

Double Springs is an unincorporated town between Cookeville and Baxter. It manifests as a strip of suburban residential development along U.S. 70N, including communities colloquially known as Westgate on the Baxter end and Echo Valley on the Cookeville end. Westgate has a strip mall with a Pizza Hut, one of few exceptions to the urban development of Double Springs being residential.

Silver Point is an unincorporated town 7 milles west-southwest of Baxter by road, via I-40. This town is a gateway to Center Hill Lake and halfway to Smithville, so their currently-under-construction Dollar General is bound to be popular once it opens. Hardwood forests surround the area.

Buffalo Valley is five miles northwest of Silver Point via I-40. An old road named "Buffalo Valley Road" (not to be confused with the main road between western Cookeville and downtown Baxter) still exists as the old main road between the two towns. Sadly for western Putnam County, Buffalo Valley does not have any active businesses nor signs of any coming, nor do nearby Gentry and Cole's Store (the latter of which had the convenience store Country Corner close its doors for good in November 2017). This town is halfway between Baxter and Gordonsville along I-40, both of those exits are overloaded, the Middle Tennessee Dragway is nearby, and the lake is as near as it is to Silver Point, which makes it even more odd that there's nothing going on here business-wise.

Bloomington Springs is along the junction of S.R. 56, S.R. 291 and Martin Creek Road. While it is empty compared to most of the other towns, even unincorporated ones, it still has a convenience store and is extremely close to Baxter, so people who seek convenience aren't likely to have the sort of issues here that they would in Buffalo Valley.

Burton is along the junction of Cookeville Boatdock Road, Baxter Road and Austin Bottom Road in a part of Putnam County colloquially known as "The Bloody Eighth" or simply "The Eighth." They have only a single active business, that being a convenience store.


Transportation
Spoiler
Federal and state highways in Putnam County:
--I-40, East-West. This serves the towns of Buffalo Valley, Silver Point, Baxter and Monterey as well as the city of Cookeville itself. Algood is served indirectly via S.R. 111 (more direct from Cookeville) or U.S. 70N (more direct from Monterey).
--U.S. 70N, East-West. This serves the towns of Baxter, Double Springs and Monterey as well as the city of Cookeville itself. Buffalo Valley is served indirectly via S.R. 96, Rock Springs Road or Stanton Road (the later mentioned routes are more direct from Baxter).
--S.R. 141, East-West. This highway doesn't spend much time in Putnam County, ending in Silver Point very soon after entering from the west. However, it does allow Silver Pointers to get to Center Hill Dam directly.
--S.R. 62, East-West. This highway doesn't spend much time in Putnam County, ending in Monterey very soon after entering from the east. However, it does allow Jamestowners to get to Putnam County more directly than they otherwise could.
--S.R. 290, East-West. Although technically an East-West highway, the part in Putnam County behaves as part of an overall North-South corridor from Gainesboro (and by extension, Lafayette) to Cookeville.
--S.R. 111, North-South. This serves the cities of Cookeville and Algood. If you want to go between Baxter and Sparta, I strongly recommend taking Ditty Road instead of save money and emissions; it's just as fast and far more direct. This also means that even if you're taking the extreme of going to Florida from Silver Point of Buffalo Valley, taking I-40 and S.R. 111 all the way out and around through Cookeville isn't helpful.
--S.R. 56, North-South. This serves the towns of Silver Point, Baxter and Bloomington Springs. Before I-40 was built, it also served the tiny communities of Hickey, Roberts Switch (the location of the sports bar The Docks) and Boma. The old alignment maintains the name Old Baxter Road outside of Baxter city limits and Main Street within Baxter.
--S.R. 96, North-South. While S.R. 96 is an East-West highway for the majority of its trajectory, all of the Putnam County portion - serving only the town of Buffalo Valley and as a direct route to/from Granville - is part of a smaller North-South portion. However, I don't recommend taking S.R. 96 to get to/from Buffalo Valley and I-40 Exit 268 for those west of Baxter, as it's more direct to either take Rock Springs Road or Stanton Road via Indian Creek Road and Hopewell Road.
--S.R. 135, North-South. This runs straight through the heart of Cookeville and is no joke. It also serves Burgess Falls State Park. It's known as Willow Avenue in Cookeville.
--S.R. 136, North-South. This runs straight through the heart of Cookeville and is no joke. It's known as Jefferson Avenue in Cookeville. Traffic jams on S.R. 136 are common around I-40.
--S.R. 291, North-South. This acts as a short but important direct route connecting Bloomington Springs to Double Springs, and thus also people near Martin Creek Road to Cookeville itself.
--S.R. 84, North-South. This serves Monterey and is by no means the best route from the Calfkiller Valley to Cookeville; Mill Creek Road is not only more direct but even faster and less poorly-built. However, the portion of S.R. 84 north of Monterey is part of the quickest route for Livingstonians to get to Knoxville and beyond.
--S.R. 164, North-South. This acts as a short but important route from the town of Monterey to Overton County's unincorporated Hanging Limb.

Important and/or direct county roads south of Baxter:
--Ditty Road. As I mentioned, this is more direct than S.R. 111 and just as fast for getting to Sparta and beyond from western Putnam County.
--Baxter Road and Austin Bottom Road. This is an important route, being the only road other than Cookeville Boatdock Road connecting to a portion of DeKalb County that's populated yet has no direct road connection to Smithville. That portion of DeKalb County, alongside neighboring portions of Putnam County, is colloquially known as "The Bloody Eighth" or simply "The Eighth."

Important and/or direct county roads west of Baxter:
--Old Baxter Road. Already mentioned in my entry about S.R. 56, this is part of an old highway. Many roads along it are populated, and Hopewell Road even fully qualifies as a collector road alongside Old Baxter itself. It serves three communities besides Baxter and Silver Point and has its own I-40 interchange.
--Martin Creek Road. This road serves both as the main street of Bloomington Springs and as a collector road leading west of it to S.R. 96. However, it's one of the worst roads I've ever come across, as you can read by clicking here.
--Buffalo Valley Road (not to be confused with the one between Cookeville and Baxter). This was the main link between Silver Point and Buffalo Valley before I-40 was built, and it's still as much a collector road as Old Baxter Road and Hopewell Road.
--Rock Springs Road. This road provides access to the Middle Tennessee Dragway near Buffalo Valley. It also serves as a more direct route from Gentry or Cole's Store to Buffalo Valley, so if you live west of Baxter along U.S. 70N and need to get to Nashville or Murfreesboro, I recommend it. Just be sure to turn left once you get to S.R. 96.
--Stanton Road. Like Rock Springs Road, it serves as a more direct route from Gentry or Cole's Store to Buffalo Valley, so if you live west of Baxter along U.S. 70N and need to get to Nashville or Murfreesboro, I recommend it. Just be sure to turn right once you get to Indian Creek Road, right onto Hopewell Road and left onto S.R. 96.

Important and/or direct county roads east of Cookeville:
--Buck Mountain Road and Woodcliff Road. This is actually a faster, more direct route from downtown Cookeville to Monterey than U.S. 70N, and it even has a truck lane, so if you don't feel like taking I-40...
--Brotherton Mountain Road. Coupling it with Woodcliff Road in place of Buck Mountain Road gets you from Monterey to downtown Algood. Boom!
--Quinland Lake Road. Significant enough that even the mighty Corridor J/S.R. 111 bothers to have a traffic light there, so it definitely more than makes the list as "important."

Important and/or direct county roads north of Cookeville:
--Pippin Road. In some cases, this may be a better route for northwesterly travel than S.R. 290 or S.R. 291. I strongly recommend it if the road you live on south of S.R. 290 is off of it; both S.R. 135 and County Farm Road have had more than enough.
--County Farm Road. No joke, the traffic on this sucks for a road of its design. Eventually, this will be supplanted by an extension of Tennessee Avenue. Thank goodness! I'd avoid it if you easily can until then, though, whether it's via S.R. 135 or via Pippin Road.

Important and/or direct county roads south of Cookeville:
--Bunker Hill Road. Provides a direct link to Ditty Road in northern White County before becoming a southward extension of it to S.R. 111/S.R. 135. Eventually, a tunnel under I-40 is planned between here and Walnut Avenue, which will hopefully alleviate some of the congestion on that awful part of S.R. 136.
--Cookeville Boatdock Road. The busiest county road I've ever seen. It probably should be a state highway, really. It leads to the landfill, The Bloody Eighth, the Cookeville Boatdock, enough houses to cause an ADT in the thousands and the Window Cliffs State Natural Area. It also leads to Burton. I occasionally worry that it may once day have to be four-laned despite being "minor" on a statewide scale, similar to S.R. 101 from Crossville to Fairfield Glade.

Important and/or direct county roads between Cookeville and Baxter:
--Academy Road. This is basically a primary parallel south of I-40 alongside Highlands Park Boulevard and Lee Seminary Road. The only difference is it's not in the city limits - well, except a small portion.
--Buffalo Valley Road (not to be confused with the one in western Putnam County). This could easily be thought of as the third Cookeville-to-Baxter highway.


Climate
Spoiler
Monterey...
--Koppen climate classification: Cfa (humid subtropical)
--USDA Hardiness Zone: 6b (mean minimum -5F to 0F)
--Trewartha climate classification: Do (temperate oceanic)
--Average Fahrenheit high/low in the coldest month (January): 43/25
--Average Fahrenheit high/low in the hottest month (July): 85/66

Cookeville...
--Koppen climate classification: Cfa (humid subtropical)
--USDA Hardiness Zone: 7a (mean minimum 0F to 5F)
--Trewartha climate classification: Do (temperate oceanic)
--Average Fahrenheit high/low in the coldest month (January): 46/26
--Average Fahrenheit high/low in the hottest month (July): 87/65

Silver Point...
--Koppen climate classification: Cfa (humid subtropical)
--USDA Hardiness Zone: 7a (mean minimum 0F to 5F)
--Trewartha climate classification: Cf (humid subtropical)
--Average Fahrenheit high/low in the coldest month (January): 46/29
--Average Fahrenheit high/low in the hottest month (July): 88/70


Flora
Spoiler
Common native trees/shrubs...
Evergreen:
--Adam's Needle Yucca (alternately known as Adam's Needle or Adam's Yucca). Known deer resistant.
--American Holly
--Christmas Fern
--Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus. Known deer resistant.
--Eastern White Pine. Known not deer resistant when small.
--Loblolly Pine
--Mountain Laurel (alternately known as Spoonwood)
--River Cane (actually a type of bamboo)
--Virginian Juniper (commonly, falsely known as Red Cedar)
--Virginia Pine
Deciduous:
--American Beech. Known not deer resistant when small.
--American Chestnut
--American Hophornbeam
--Black Walnut
--Boxelder
--Buckeye
--Flowering Dogwood
--Green Ash (critically endangered)
--Hackberry
--Hickory
--Northern Red Oak
--Locust
--Persimmon
--Red Maple
--Rock Elm (alternately known as American Elm or Cork Elm)
--Sassafras
--Silver Maple
--Southern Red Oak
--Sugar Maple
--Sycamore
--White Ash (critically endangered)
--White Walnut (commonly, falsely known as Butternut)
--Yellow Poplar (commonly, falsely known as Tulip Poplar or Tuliptree)

Non-native trees/shrubs known to grow very well in Putnam County long-term, no winter protection, no irrigation except possibly to help establish...
Native to Tennessee:
--Bald Cypress
--Great Rhododendron
--Kentucky Coffeetree
--River Birch
--Sweetbay Magnolia
--Yellow Birch
Native to North America:
--Arborvitae. Known not deer resistant when small.
--Atlantic White Cypress
--Blue Spruce (only with pesticides to eradicate bagworms)
--Dwarf Alberta Spruce
--Dwarf Palmetto
--Needle Palm (alternately known as Porcupine Palm). Known deer resistant.
--Southern Magnolia (alternately known as Bull Bay or Evergreen Magnolia). Known deer resistant.
--Wax Myrtle
NOT native to North America:
--Azalea. Known not deer resistant when small.
--Crepemyrtle (alternately known as Crape Myrtle)
--Cherry Blossom, including Weeping Cherry
--European Linden
--Gala Apple
--Golden Delicious Apple
--Granny Smith Apple
--Japanese Banana (alternately known as Hardy Banana or Basjoo Banana)
--Norway Spruce
--Pampas Grass
--Red Delicious Apple
--Unidentified Bamboo species (WARNING: They'll take over like Kudzu!)
Not native to Tennessee, unknown whether native to North America or not:
--Blueberry
--Bradford Pear
--Forsythia
--Peach
--Pear
--Plum
--Unidentified Boxwood shrub species
--Unidentified Yew shrub species
--Weeping Willow. Known not deer resistant when small.
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