Visitors Guide to
The Western Tennessee Region
of the Middle Mississippi River Valley
 

 
including
Dyer, Lake, Lauderdale, Obion, and Tipton Counties
   
The Great River Road enters Tennessee from the north along TN-78 into Lake County. Most of the low lying landscape can found in the Lake County area, including western Obion County, in Dyer and northern Lauderdale Counties, and along the Mississippi’s tributaries until the Chickasaw Bluffs are reached in central Lauderdale County. The bulk of the terrain of the counties that make up Western Tennessee consists of mostly high ground that is part of a geological feature called the Western Tennessee Plateau Slope. Lake County is home to one of Tennessee’s most unique features - a large natural lake. All lakes in Tennessee have been created by damming rivers with the exception of Reelfoot Lake. Reelfoot Lake was created by the New Madrid earthquakes during the winter of 1811 and 1812. The lake has become well known for both its fishing opportunities and its bird watching. A large number of bald eagles make Reelfoot Lake home during the winter months. Visitors to Reelfoot Lake can take advantage of the facilities provided by Reelfoot Lake State Park and Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge to enjoy the natural features of the area. Nearby in Tiptonville is the Carl Perkins Visitors Center located in a refurbished caboose that also serves as a repository for the rockabilly musician.

The Great River Road travels through the flood plains through mostly farm country down TN-78, TN-79, and TN-181 until it reaches the Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge. From there it turns inward along TN-88 and goes into the community of Halls. From the Kentucky border until Halls the Great River Road only encounters three communities, all in Lake County. As most of the population of Western Tennessee lives on the upper ground of the Western Tennessee Plateau Slope this is where most of the attractions in the region are located. Travelling inland from Lake County sightseers can visit Union City in Obion County. Although Obion County does not border the Mississippi River it is included because Lake County is small. The Union City area features the First Monument to the Unknown Confederate Dead and the Masquerade Theatre with the Emerson Parks Covered Bridge being found in nearby Trimble.

Most of the population of Western Tennessee lives along a corridor served by US-51. South of Union City travelers will find Dyersburg. Founded in 1825 along the Forked Deer River, Dyersburg became an important site because it was accessible to steamboat navigation. The Dyer County's first industrial boom dates to 1879, when the steamboats began shipping timber from Dyersburg to markets in St. Louis. The arrival of the Newport News and Mississippi Valley Railroad in 1884 furthered the development of Dyersburg. During World War 2 the Halls Air Base, located south of Dyersburg near the border of Lauderdale County and Dyer County, created many civilian jobs as it trained hundreds of B-17 bomber pilots. An emergency landing strip for the trainees was built in Dyersburg. A Veterans' Museum is located on the site of the Dyersburg Army Air Base.

Further south on US-51 travelers can visit the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center in Henning where the home that the author of Roots lived as a boy in the 1920s as well as a 6,500 square foot award winning center that features a walk-through exhibit, a theater, a genealogy room, and the gift shop. The Great River Road has a loop spur out of Henning and nearby Ripley that leads to Fort Pillow State Historic Park which is scenically located on the Chickasaw Bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. This park is situated on the site of a Civil War fort and is rich with historical and archaeological significance as well as providing visitors with opportunities recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing as well as offering camping opportunities. South of Henning is Covington which features the Tipton County Museum, Veterans Memorial & Nature Center. This is one of the first facilities in the country to bring together military history, environmental education, and historical preservation into one place. In addition to its military museum the facility is located in a park that includes a twenty-acre wildlife sanctuary, a half-mile nature trail through a woodland forest, and a wetland study area.

As part of the Upper Delta region of the Mississippi River, Western Tennessee offers its visitors a wide array of activities ranging from nature to history for travelers to get a feel of the atmosphere and culture of America’s South.
GUIDE TO THE COUNTIES OF WESTERN TENNESSEE
  Lake County
Lake is located in the northwest most corner of Tennessee. Lake County, as its name suggests, is home to Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee’s largest natural lake. The lake harbors almost every kind of shore and wading bird including the golden and American bald eagles. Visitors can take advantage of this natural feature at either Reelfoot Lake State Park or Reelfoot NWR. The Carl Perkins Visitor Center, honoring rockabilly musician Carl Perkins, is located in nearby Tiptonville.
  Obion County
Confederate monuments can be found in Union City and Trimble. The Emerson Parks Covered Bridge is the only one of Tennessee's four historic covered bridges located in the western portion of the state is also located in Trimble.
  Dyer County
Unique architecture can be found in the downtown district of Dyersburg and Newbern features a museum in a restored railroad depot.
  Lauderdale County
Lauderdale County offers it visitors a variety of historical, natural, and cultural activities. History and nature can be found at Fort Pillow State Historic Park. Henning is home to the Alex Haley Home and Interpretive Center. The Lauderdale County museum and unique architecture can be found in the downtown district of Ripley.
  Tipton County
Covington is Tipton County's largest community. Visitors can explore nature and history at the Tipton County Museum, Veterans Memorial & Nature Center. Unique architecture can be found in the downtown district and theater lovers will delight in the atmosphere of the Ruffin Theater.
   
For Travelers Heading Up River
  The Mississippi Meets the Ohio River Region
After the Mississippi River passes St. Louis it begins to change character. When the Mississippi River meets the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois it is halfway on its journey to the sea. It is here that the brown muddy water of the Mississippi begins to mingle with the clearer water of the Ohio. Without the locks and dams the Mississippi begins to wind and curve so much so that the distance by water from Cape Girardeau to the Gulf of Mexico is twice the distance as a crow flies. The region where the Mississippi River meets the Ohio River is an area of transition in several respects both in terms of the flora and fauna but the culture begins to take on that of the Deep South. The Meeting the Ohio region of the Middle Mississippi River Valley offers it visitors a wide variety of options of activities to do and sites to see. Whether you’re looking for historical or cultural sites or a place to enjoy nature you’ll find it in this part of the country.
For Travelers Heading Across the River
  Bootheel Missouri
The Missouri Bootheel is the southeastern most part of the state and is composed of the counties of Dunklin, New Madrid, and Pemiscot. Explore what the region once was like at the area’s many conservation areas. Learn the history of New Madrid, the great earthquakes of 1812-13, the role the town played in the Civil War, and the town’s history at several museums and historic sites in the town. Get a great view of the Mississippi from New Madrid’s riverfront. Other regional history can be found in museums in the towns of Kennett and Malden.
  The Great River Road in Northeast Arkansas
Northeastern Arkansas along the Mississippi River offers its visitors a variety of attractions. The downtown districts of Blytheville and Osceola have distinctive architecture in their downtown districts. The small communities of Manila and Earle have county museums covering the history and culture of the region. At Sans Souci Landing visitors can get a great up close view of the Mississippi River. Nature lovers will find plenty to do at Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge.
  Crowley's Ridge Parkway in Northeast Arkansas
The counties of Clay, Greene, Craighead, Pointsett, and Cross comprise the upper two thirds of the Crowley's Ridge Parkway National Scenic Byway. Crowley's Ridge rises as much as 200 feet above the vast flatland of the Mississippi River Delta and is characterized by upland hardwood forests, farmland, orchards and a variety of recreational and historical resources. Four state parks lie along the parkway which passes through the St. Francis National Forest. Cultural attractions can be found in Jonesboro, home of Arkansas State University. Many of the regions communities are host to small museums that interprets the area’s history.
   
FEATURED ATTRACTIONS ALONG THE GREAT RIVER ROAD
Hunter Dawson State Historical Site Wapanocca
National Wildlife Refuge
Parkin
Archeological State Park
Fort Pillow
State Historic Park
     






 
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