See that little white bubble lower left - that's the area I'm talking about. It's a piece of KY surrounded almost entirely by a big oxbow in the Mississippi River with the Tennessee state line cutting across the neck of land on the south side.
Here's a colorful close-up from the internet:
Allen Anthony, who is the father of Suzy Hinkle, Matt's wife, has written articles about the Kentucky Bend -- he's a historian and a native Kentuckian -- and he told me about this region: we just happened to be discussing geographic oddities. When the border between KY and TN was established, it was defined to extend as far west as the bank of the Mississippi opposite the westernmost bank of the Mississippi in Missouri. (I thought that the border must be some particular line of latitude, but it doesn't appear to be: there's a droop relative to the border further east. I'll be sure to update you on all of this when Allen sends me some of his articles.)
At the time the border was defined it wasn't known that this line would cut across this peninsula of land formed by what is called the Kentucky Bend or the New Madrid Bend (New Madrid, MO, is on the north shore of the Bend). The piece of land is also called Bubbleland, by some, for obvious reasons. You can only get there by driving through Tennessee (or by boat). When the anomaly was discovered, TN claimed this land - it is rich cotton land - but KY eventualy prevailed. A line is a line, duly agreed to. (We in NM recently learned that the lines that define the Four Corners don't really intersect where it has for years been assumed they do .)
I wondered if this river bend was caused by the New Madrid earthquake(s) of 1811-12. Allen says No. Some internet sources say Yes. Can't trust them. The quake did reverse the flow of the Mississippi for a while and did create Reelfoot Lake in TN, just SE of the bottom of the Bend.
You might wonder, as I did, what if the Mississippi some day cuts across the neck of the bubble? Will the former Bubbleland then belong to Missouri? Well, that won't happen as long as the levees along the river there are in place, but stranger things have happened - such as the size 8 earthquake in 1811.
At any rate, I just had to visit Bubbleland myself, so we drove there on Sunday - roughly 100 miles from our KOA east of Paducah. Here's the state line, looking north from TN to KY.
TN Hwy 22 ends right there. There's no sign indicating you're crossing into KY. When you come back, though, the other side of that sign on the left says you're entering TN. Still some hard feelings? Did some Volunteer remove the Kentucky sign? Later I read about a church said to straddle the border, but we didn't see it. Further south a bit there is a cemetery that contains the graves of some 75 Confederate soldiers who died in the battle of New Madrid. (The Confederate Army tried to barricade the Mississippi to keep Union forces from moving south.)
Here's a shot of our GPS, showing us right in the middle of the bubble. We called Allen from there. What an exciting moment!
The map above shows a road extending to the top of the bubble, across from New Madrid. However, here's where the road ended for us. Another branch ended at a No Trespassing sign.
Susie said, I'm surprised you didn't try to drive across.
Next: New Madrid and return.
Susie and Rob