Land between the Lakes – Where my elk come from


When life gives you lemons, you make the best of it.

Lenny and I had barely gotten to Salt Lake City when we had to return home for an emergency. I put him on a plane and drove back. I had never driven this long by myself and I decided to stop at a couple of places, the kind of places that may not be destinations but are great to see if you happen to be in the “neighborhood”.

I’ve always wanted to see where the first batch of Smokies elk came from – Land between the Lakes. LBL is a long, narrow national recreation area in Kentucky and Tennessee. The recreation area was created when two rivers were dammed up – Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. They created two parallel lakes – Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. The land in between became a recreation area, managed by the US Forest Service.

Like in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Forest Service bought the properties and residents had to move out. There are plenty of cemeteries and also decorations days. Unlike the Smokies, I don’t think anyone was clamoring for a road. 

I could have settled in for days in there but I just had a couple of hours.LBL-Hermatite Lake So I walked around Hermatite Lake, a minor lake, and went in search of the elk.

Unlike the Smokies, elk, here, and bison are penned up. You pay five dollars which opens a gate to a 700-acre fenced in area. I drove in and stopped at a couple of approved spots. I couldn’t see any elk but bison were resting at a watering hole. See the top picture.

LBL-ElkStopsignLBL got their elk from the same place that the Smokies got their second batch – Elk Island National Park in Alberta.

But the elk we got from LBL were not used to dealing with predators like bears. No wonder. They’re living in Disneyworld without an enemy or care in the world here. Based on the sign above and several others, LBL is also skittish about letting people in. There’s no Elk Bugle Corps. Visitors are warned and warned but are on their own.




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