The Heritage of Daniel Haston


The Caney Fork of the Cumberland
Fish Traps - Pages 36
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Fish Traps

There are a number of references to Fish Traps, sometimes called Fish Dams, in the early deeds.  They were located on the shoals where the river was relatively shallow.  Loose rock dams were built out from each bank of the river to a wood structure supporting poles or slats at an angle of about 30 degrees, spaced about 2" apart.  Even though the rock dams were not water tight, the level of the river was raised so that the velocity of the water through the slats was quite rapid.  Small fish passed through but the large ones were caught on the slats and due to the water pressure could not get away.  As Jim Baker of Campaign used to say, "It was just a matter of walking out to the trap and picking up a mess of fish for supper."

Fish Trap diagram

The group of explorers who traveled down the Cumberland in 1769-70 and then cut across Roaring River to the Caney Fork referred to a very ingenious "fish trap on the upper Cumberland built of limbs and brush."  It must have been built by the Indians.

Cross Rocks on Caney Fork - Fish trap located below Cumming's Ford at Cross Rocks. 

(In first bend of the river below Reno Mill.)

Between Dillon line and Tosh Ferry on Caney Fork at the upper end of the field where

the saw mill was.  (By Florence Woods)

Laxton's Field and Fish Trap - Mentioned in grant to E.B. Sanders, Surveyed in 1814. 

On Caney Fork.

Calfkiller River - Opposite Jet's line near mill site sold to S.D. Wallace in 1885

mentions a fish trap.

Cumming's Fish Trap at Cumming's Ford on Caney Fork.
Joseph Frank's fish trap - and fish dam at Cliff Creek mentioned in grant to Laban

Stafford in 1820 on Caney Fork.  (Franks Ferry and Cliff creek are about 7 miles below Great Falls.)  1908 Map.

Mile 15.2 on lower Caney Fork on right side of an island opposite Hickman Creek.

1908 Map.

Walker's Fish trap at Walker's Shoals in the left channel around island on lower Caney

Fork at mile 89.3.  Another map refers to "Saunder's Fish Trap Shoals" at this same location.

Caney Fork, about 2 miles below Great Falls Power House - This is the only fish trap

known to the writer operating in 1927.  It extended from the White County side of the river to the middle of the stream.  This type of trap was illegal in Warren County on the left bank of the river.

There were probably many others located on the upper Caney Fork and its tributaries.  They were fragile and easily washed out.  The lower Caney Fork was considered navigable up to Frank's Ferry and such structures would not have been permitted in the main channel although they might have been built in narrow channels on one side of an island.

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