History of Radnor Lake
In 1913, the L&N Railroad purchased 747 acres of land 8 miles south of downtown Nashville in order to build a reservoir on Otter Creek that would supply water for the steam engines in nearby Radnor Yard. The resulting lake also provided fishing and boating opportunities for company executives. Over the years, this beautiful little natural area attracted wild plant and animal life, and in 1923, one of the railroad executives designated it as a nature sanctuary.
By 1962, with the passing of steam engines, the railroad no longer needed Radnor Lake and it was sold to a developer. Public and private groups and individuals rallied to save Radnor from development, and in 1973 Radnor Lake became Tennessee’s first natural area and protected eco-system. The Friends of Radnor continue to raise money to purchase additional land. This year they announced the acquisition of Harris Ridge, one of the highest ridges surrounding the preserve.
Nashvillians love Radnor Lake! Its one million visitors a year rank it fifth in popularity among all Tennessee’s parks, which is understandable considering it was ordinary Nashvillians who gave everything from large gifts to the change in their pockets to volunteers set up at tables on sidewalks to save Radnor from its fate as just another subdivision.
A year ago, April, 2010, after a serendipity of casual conversations, three of my friends, who had never met each other, and I met for a walk at Radnor Lake. We had no plans for anything long term, just a nice spring walk around the lake. At the end of that first walk, we discussed times for a regular schedule, and since then we have met three times a week to walk in heat, rain, snow, every temperature between 13 and 103 degrees, and the Nashville Flood of 2010. We now call ourselves Deer Friends (the Deers, for short), and our walks have become a ritual, and an incomparable gift to ourselves.
I have been posting the pictures I have taken on our walks in my PAD (Photo a Day) blog, Lightdance, but Radnor deserves it own billing, and so I am starting a new blog, Radnor Reflections: The Lake Effect. I don’t know if Lightdance and Radnor Reflections will be PADs. More likely they will both be PSDs (Photos Some Days). If I actually do add one photo a day to two blogs, it might be time to examine the priorities in my life!
The Deer Friends love Radnor
We began our walks because Radnor is a peaceful, convenient spot to go for some exercise. Gradually, the changing seasons, the animals who had no fear of or interest in us, the beauty of the lake, the trees, the wildflowers, and the people and dogs we met along the way, made us aware of what we had been missing in a life limited to a daily routine in the city. We chatted and laughed along the way, sympathized over problems, rejoiced over successes. Always we marveled at the new things we saw on each and every walk: the shadows cast by the sun from behind a hill, the tree reflected in the lake that looked like a reindeer, the owl and her three babies that were always in the same spot until the babies learned to fly, the flock of turkeys all gobbling and strutting across our path with feathers puffed out and tail feathers spread into fans.
Radnor has no majestic vistas, no canyons, no waterfalls (unless you count the spillway if the water is high), and there are only three different trails. The marvel is that the more familiar we become with Radnor Lake, the more we find in it to enjoy. Last week we saw one larkspur in bloom by the path. We know that in a few days the hills under the trees will be purple with thousands of them blooming. It won’t last very long, but then there will be trumpet vine and prairie roses, ducks, turtles, autumn color and the magical things that snow will do to the landscape.
And so it goes. It’s the lake effect.