Dead in the Water: 8 Lakeside Mysteries

So lovely was the loneliness of a wild lake.

Edgar Allan Poe

As summer draws to a close, the lake beckons. We hurry to squeeze in one more weekend before the school year starts and autumn cools the water. The lake is also the perfect place to sink into a good mystery. The still, deep water; the dark, encircling forest; the hush that falls at twilight—it’s easy to imagine what might lurk just out of sight.

We’ve spent the majority of our summer weekends since the pandemic hit at the Land Between the Lakes, a recreation area between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. One of my favorite things to do, while the rest of my family zips around in my dad’s boat, is to take a kayak and explore the inlets around our usual campsite. There, the busy sounds of the lake fade, as if I’m the only one for miles. I’ve seen herons, raccoons, turtles, and deer as I paddle along the shore. The peaceful stillness can be misleading, though.

Kentucky Lake is a man-made lake, formed by the damming of the Tennessee River in 1944. Before the valley was flooded, the people living there were forced to relocate, leaving homes, farms, and businesses behind. The remains of those structures now sit at the bottom of the lake. Most of the cemeteries were relocated, but there were a few families who refused to relocate their loved ones, so there are some graves down there as well.

In fact, when the lake level is lowered to what is called winter pool, a piece of land known locally as Cemetery Island emerges. You can pull a boat right up to it and walk around on the small bit of land. There were five graves that weren’t relocated from this particular cemetery, and some of the markers remain, including a tall narrow one that frequently gets knocked over by boaters in the summer when it is completely submerged.

When you hear stories like that, suddenly the lake can seem as eerie as it is beautiful. Next time you’re relaxing by the water, remember that there might be more to that lake than meets the eye, as these 8 mysteries with lakeside settings illustrate.

So there you are, eight books perfect for lakeside reading. How about you,
are you planning an end-of-summer lake trip or making plans for some
fall camping around a crackling fire? Let me know in the comments
& be sure to pack some of these books to take along.

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