River Facts

The Harpeth is a State Scenic River within Nashville’s Davidson County. It is also a stream with over 100 rural miles of Class 1 floating .

The Harpeth River, 125 miles long with over 1000 miles of tributaries, meanders through agricultural, forested and suburban areas of six counties in the greater Nashville region until it joins the Cumberland River. The Harpeth River watershed is the area of land — 870 square miles — which drains into the Harpeth River. The Harpeth is one of the unique freshwater river systems of the Southeast which contain a greater variety of aquatic life than anywhere else in the world.

Montgomery Bell is responsible for the tunnel at the Narrows of the Harpeth. Using slave labor and black powder, Bell tunneled through 100 yards of rock to gain access to the 14-foot waterfall that could drive water toward his iron forge. Once in full throttle, the forge turned out cannons, cannonballs, kettles, skillets and a host of other iron items for the country’s use during the War of 1812.

For many years there reportedly has been a strange, glowing light often seen after dark in the vicinity of the Narrows of the Harpeth. Some believe this to be the spirit of Montgomery Bell, which returns to make certain that the treasure reputedly hidden is safe. Some say the light arises from the graveyard where Bell is buried, crosses the river, travels up and along the Narrows Bluff, then returns by the same route.

Mound Bottom

Mound Bottom is a prehistoric Native American complex in Cheatham County, Tennessee, located in the Southeastern United States. The complex, which consists of ceremonial and burial mounds, a central plaza, and habitation areas, was built between 950 A.D. and 1300 A.D., during the Mississippian period.

The Mound Bottom site is often grouped with another mound complex located just over a mile to the south known as the Pack site, or Great Mound Division. Due to structural similarities, the builders of the Pack site mounds are believed to have been contemporaries of Mound Bottom’s builders.

Mound Bottom is the remnant of a sprawling, 300-acre Indian settlement. The Indians, known as Mississippians, developed a complex social system, and built large mound centers for both civic and ceremonial use with villages, hamlets, and farmsteads stretching for miles up and down the river valley. Though the culture was centered around intensive corn agriculture, they also engaged in long-distance trade in copper, marine shell, and other materials.

Mound Bottom contains 14 mounds outlining an open, level plaza which was presumably used for social and ceremonial gatherings. A large platform mound, constructed in four, possibly five stages during the occupation of the site, was certainly the main focal point of the center, containing the residence of the leader, a temple, a town house, or some other communal building of importance. The other smaller mounds are thought to have supported the residences of lesser ranking officials and their families as well as other communal or ceremonial structures. The exact significance of the mounds is as yet unclear. A petroglyph “scepter” appears on a bluff on the other side of the river overlooking the ceremonial sites.