A River Runs Through It

by Henry Swain

This heading refers to a book and a movie made from the book. Our village of Nashville does not have a river running through it but it has a couple of creeks. Do you know where they are?

Nashville’s business district begins at the bottom of a long hill when approached from the north. Turning east on Artists Drive from state road 135 marks the beginning of a ravine that borders the state highway for a half a mile where it enters the village.

During times of heavy rain, the watershed produces a lively stream. Where does this water go when it gets to Nashville? It goes underground. It was not always so. In the 1940’s, much of the stream ran through town. It was an open creek until it met Mound Street. There it entered a five-foot diameter concrete underground sewer, which extended through the parking lot of Gregg & Tucker Lumber and Hardware, thence under Van Buren, opening again below what was for many years the Pine Room Tavern.

After the fire that destroyed Gregg & Tucker Lumber, Roberts Brothers Lumber rebuilt at the same location. I recall seeing a loaded dump truck in their parking lot half buried in the collapse of one of the sewer tiles that ran under it. The truck dumped its load and was pulled out by a wrecker. The broken sewer tile was excavated and replaced.

Honeysuckle Lane was part creek where it went underground at Main Street.

The creek ran open again between the Masonic Building and Bonnie’s Leader Store, now the Chamber of Commerce offices, which are part of the National City Bank building.

In the 1930s Nashville had a movie theatre near where the creek passed under Main Street. The back portion of the theatre stood on posts close by the creek. The noise from the creek did not bother the silent moviegoers, but when the “talkies” came in the noise often interfered. The primitive sound system simply did not have enough volume to compete with the noise from the creek during times of high runoff.

From Main Street it angled across where the Antique Alley complex now is. It went underground again at the intersection of Jefferson and Franklin Streets. It continued as an open stream to west Washington Street and Jefferson Street intersection. Passing this last obstruction it completed its destination at Salt Creek.

The Artist Drive watershed is divided by a ridge, which creates another minor creek, which flows by the lower parking lot at the library. When the County Annex building was constructed, an offer was made to the town to place a sewer at the present east end of Gould Street so that a connection could be made to Commercial Street. The County offered the town the cost of the sewer and the dirt fill that would come from the excavation of the annex building. It was a $30,000 offer.

For reasons that remain unclear, but probably of politics and personalities, the town did not accept the offer, and the street connection was never completed. I suspect the project will be completed sometime in the future, because the logic is so compelling.

Recently, Andy Rogers has put this stream underground from the Gould Street connection to past Main Street. The stream wanders openly again to Washington Street, where it disappears until it reaches Salt Creek

Runoff water is a problem for all cities and towns. As our village has grown, the necessity of making open creeks into underground sewers has become obvious. The burying of the creek has been dictated by commercial growth and public safety. It has been interesting to watch this progressive patchwork of one of these streams finally completed. I suspect someday the small stream that runs by the parking lot at the Library will disappear completely and no one will ever know Nashville has two creeks running through it and under it.