Governor Haslam Officially Opens Tims Ford State Park Visitor Center and Trail SystemThursday, July 14, 2011 | 10:05 am
WINCHESTER, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau and Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill were joined today by members of the General Assembly, local elected officials and members of the community for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and official grand opening of Tims Ford State Park’s new visitor center and trail system.
“This project demonstrates the importance of public-private partnerships and how they can improve upon our outstanding recreational areas, which help attract more people and more business to the area,” said Haslam. “Tennessee is a great place to live, work and play, and our state parks are an important piece of that quality of life.”
Dedicated in 1978, Tims Ford is a relatively new state park that now manages nearly 3,000 acres on the Tims Ford Reservoir, including six islands, the Fairview Campground and seven public access areas around the reservoir. As part of the Tims Ford Reservoir Land Management and Disposition Plan, more than 2,000 acres have been added to Tims Ford State Park since 2000. The new visitor center was designed with the park’s growth in mind, providing a better-equipped facility to meet increased visitation and community needs.
The 4,000-square-foot visitor center also will house a new gift shop, park offices and public meeting space. Incorporating a bit of history, the visitor center will include an exhibit titled Tims Ford, A Lake, A Park, A People, developed in conjunction with Middle Tennessee State University. The interpretive history will share photos and stories of the communities along the Elk River that were impacted by the development of the Tims Ford Reservoir.
Located approximately a quarter of a mile from the park’s entrance, the new Tims Ford Visitor Center project was budgeted at $820,000, and was completed under budget in eight months. Neuhoff Taylor of Chattanooga served as project architects and Terry Preston of Woodbury was contractor. Project costs were paid with proceeds from the disposition of TVA assets as part of the land management plan, in lieu of using state-appropriated funds.
As part of the project, Tims Ford State Park will partner with the Tims Ford Environmental Education Association to convert the park’s former visitor center into a dedicated Environmental Education Center, which will feature programs and exhibits about the flora and fauna found at the park. Jack Daniel’s Distillery recently contributed $5,000, which will partially fund the effort.
Also enhancing the park is the new Tims Ford Heritage Trail System, created to offer visitors greater access to unique areas of the park. The new trail system allows park visitors an opportunity to walk a variety of trails and learn more about the homes and families that once lived on the land before there was a lake or a park. The Lost Creek Overlook Trail, along with the Old Spann House Trail and Ray Branch Trail, are all part of the trail development plan.
Taking more than three years to complete, the development of the Lost Creek Overlook Trail was begun by Tims Ford and Tennessee State Parks staff and the Tennessee Youth Conservation Corps, with assistance from the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Two unique cable bridges – spanning 164 and 180 feet – were designed by John Hastings, TDOT bridge engineer, and serve as landmark features on this particular trail. They are two of the longest cable bridges in the state. The Lost Creek Overlook Trail is 1.3 miles long and provides connections to existing trails and unique vistas of shorelines along Tims Ford Reservoir.
The Lost Creek Overlook Trail was funded by a $47,000 federal Recreation Trail Program grant, which was matched by in-kind labor provided by park staff, TYCC workers and TDOT bridge design services.
“The new visitor center and trail system are great additions to Tims Ford State Park and will serve as a distinctive draw to one of the state’s most popular state parks,” said Martineau. “While there are simply too many to name, this project truly did bring an entire community together and I want to thank all of these individuals for their hard work and dedication throughout the entire process.”
Tims Ford State Park is situated on Tims Ford Reservoir in the rolling hills of southern Middle Tennessee and serves as one of the state’s most popular recreational and fishing areas. The 10,700-acre Tims Ford Lake is one of the most picturesque in Tennessee and is regarded as one of the top bass fishing and recreational lakes in the Southeast. Long before the construction of Tims Ford Dam on the headwaters of the Elk River, the area was used extensively by American Indians as a hunting and fishing territory. Archaeological excavations uncovered numerous artifacts and occupational sites, indicating that man had occupied the area as early as 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. For additional information or directions from other areas of the state, please visit www.tnstateparks.com/TimsFord.
Tennessee's 53 state parks offer diverse natural, recreational and cultural experiences for individuals, families or business and professional groups. State park features range from pristine natural areas to 18-hole championship golf courses. For a free brochure about Tennessee State Parks, call toll free at 1-888-867-2757. For additional information, visit our Web site at www.tnstateparks.com.