David Hoefer, of Louisville, Ky., is co-editor of The Last Resort and the author of the book's Introduction. If you would like to share your thoughts on Clearing the Fog, contact us here.
Kentucky is naturally a land of rivers. Every major pool of water in the state is a recent innovation of human engineering, a dammed-up and permanently flooded river valley that shares some, though not all, of the characteristics of a geologically formed lake.
All these forays into large-scale landscape transformation were just getting underway when Pud Goodlett, Bobby Cole, and their buddies were participating in the much smaller-scale lifeways of Salt River during the first half of the 1940s. Rivers meandered through channels rather than rushing through canals; water was oxygenated by riffles and pools rather than the tailwater churn of turbines. The seasons of a temperate climate, marked by leaf color, flow rate, and other sense-catching variables, pressed directly on the dark ribbons of water threading their way through an abundance of interwoven plants and animals. One can imagine the unselfconscious bliss of immersion in this slow but dynamic pattern, as reflected in The Last Resort.
The following video makes evident the steady march of change; it’s the Green River rather than the Salt, but the two are west-flowing sisters whose waters come to mingle in the mighty Ohio.
Video courtesy of the National Park Service.