Saturday, October 18, 2014


                                                      CHAPTER   TWELVE
                                           COOL,  CLEAR   WATER


Soon after discovering Shabomekaw, I began driving to “Trail’s End” on a
narrow, winding back-road out of Maysville that paralleled  Kinniconick, up in its head-waters.  At one point the road was within a stone’s throw of the creek.  Most of my weekend trips back then commenced on Friday, and having left the office in Cincinnati at six o’clock or so, it was dark when the Creek came into view.

Oh, how important it was to get that first glimpse of clear water tumbling over  the little riffle, and through the darkness of twilight or the beaming of the moon, one could see that the stream was in perfect condition.   The weekend was guaranteed to be another marvelous commune with nature, the beautiful creek flowing through the wooded valley, framed by Kentucky  mountains.  Cool, clear water was a hallmark of Kinney.  Early in the Spring the color was a brilliant turquoise and in Summer it was emerald green.

My life has always revolved around the pursuit of wilderness and wild, clear water.  Fate gave me so many opportunities to see and to feel and taste water, in many far-off places:  I drank from lakes in Canada and from trout streams in Michigan, North Carolina and Wyoming.  On the flats in the back bay of Florida I watched tarpon take my fly in water clear as gin.  Once, on Norris Lake in Tennessee not long after it was impounded, my Dad and I fished in a place called Brassfield Bend and big bass were visible way down deep in ultra-clear water.

Recently the director of the Sierra Club wrote about Waldo Lake, one of the clearest and purest lakes in the world.  He trekked into the Cascade Range in Oregon and kayaked on Waldo, and he says that visibility is over 100 feet.  Now he is trying to save it from development.

It isn’t too late to save our water, but time is growing short.  Fracking for natural gas has poisoned water deep in the earth.  Careless pumping has drained aquifers and lowered lake levels.  Fertilizers and weed killers pollute our rivers and creeks, and pristine lakes turn an ugly gray-brown.  Salt water intrusion is becoming dangerous along our coasts.  Climate change may turn vast green regions into dust.  Offshore drilling and oil spills, horrid dumping of waste, destruction of seabeds:  it must stop if we have any chance of saving the waters of the world.

Several years ago, the state of Kentucky designated Kinniconick an “Outstanding Water Resource” and in 2012 a federal grant was awarded to develop a watershed plan.  Officials pointed out that “current land practices have led to degradation through increased sedimentation and bank erosion, causing turbidity” and that the health of the stream was at risk.  I say thank you to the State and the Federal Government for at long last recognizing the unique quality of this stream.  One day its waters will run cool and clear again.

 Many years ago (gosh, maybe 75 years ago) my family gathered by the radio in the evening, and I remember hearing an old cowboy ballad sung by Hank  Williams.  It told the story of a feller and his mule, lost on some western desert, dying of thirst.  The mule’s name was Dan.

    “Say, Dan, can’t you see that big green tree,
      where the water’s runnin’ free ?
      It’s waiting there for you and me…
      Water.  Cool, clear water.”

Dan and the old cowboy saw a distant mirage out there on the barren sands.  All of their memories of clear, clean water filled their dreams of shimmering lakes and rushing streams.     

One day earth’s creatures everywhere may wish for a place “where the water’s runnin’ free”.

Photo of Kinniconick by Sharmon Davidson


  1. Ken, I heard that you were still alive and kicking afer speaking with Todd Jennings today. Russell Zornes was my grandpa, Hobart my uncle. I remember visiting the fish camp (as we called it) several times and I believe your Dad was there. I remember the smell of it inside and out. We could always tell we were near when we walked around the bend in the road and the smell of the cabin and the crick would hit you. I remember that Musky hangnin on the wall, your fishing poles on the wall. Wow... It's been so many years. I believe it was Leon, Betty and Berthie that planted the pine trees for you in the clearing. They were mabye 10 feet tall when I was a youngin walkin through them. My older brother Rusty mowed the grass for you a summer or two, From the gate all the way back to the cabin with a gas push mower. I spent so many summers swimming in the Swirl Hole. I also, have been in the house the professor owned. My good friends and neighbors back then, the Goodwins, lived there. I have made many a trip up and down Pine Eddy all the way to the Swirl Hole fishing. It has been a couple years since I have laid eyes on the cabin, but I told Todd that I will be around there this coming summer. Your stories about Pine Eddy I can truly visualize while reading them. Takes me home . I can actually see the crick, hillsides, fields and smell the fresh cut hay while reading them. It's almost like a movie to me. I too have built my cabin on a little piece of land Ray and Doris Stafford owned. Just as you start down the hill from their house, the upper side of the hill, till you get to the bottom of the hill and start back up the little grade. I over look Pine Eddy and can see it clearly in the Fall and Winter time when the leaves are off the trees. I look down on the old farm place and think back to when I was a child running and playing in the woods and fields and swimming and fishing in the crick. My O My. It's good to think back. Thank you for your memories. They have brought out more of my memories. There are still some huge Muskies in Pine Eddy. I would like to speak with you if you don't mind. Just for old times sake. Email me at and I Will give you my phone number. I have pictures of my cabin and views of the hills at
    I know this is a long comment but words come pouring out.
    Hope to talk to ya soon Ken.

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  2. Ken, I share your concerns about the waters of the Kinniconick. Do you think there's anything I could do to help the cause? Let me know if you have any ideas. By the way, Joni Mitchell and Willie nelson did a beautiful version of "Cool, Clear, Water"; you might give it a listen.

  3. I do have an idea and will get back to you soon.
    Now will listen to Joni and Willie sing the old ballad.
    (I Love Willie)