An abandoned road in the woods: US 127 in central Tennessee

In a big way, you can drive all over the country on the Interstates and never really get to know America. They are good for covering a lot of ground in a hurry, but they tell so little about the land and the people who live on it. I drive the two-lane highways because they give me fuller experiences of the places I visit.

I admit to spending some time on I-65 and I-40 on our recent spring break trip to Tennessee, but we spent much more time off them. I loved driving through rural Kentucky and Tennessee on state and US highways as they wound through every small town. I love to follow the old alignments – paths roads used to follow before they were improved. I saw many as we drove and wanted to explore them all, but I resisted as I wanted to arrive at our destination before dinner.

One sunny afternoon we hiked ten miles through Cumberland Mountain State Park. My abandoned-alignment thirst was serendipitously slaked when the trail suddenly exited the woods and met asphalt.

Abandoned US 127

This used to be US 127. It once meandered a bit through this part of Tennessee, but has since been leveled and straightened considerably.

Abandoned US 127

Here’s the scene from the air, thanks to Google Maps. US 127 used to follow what is now “Old Hwy Cir” and curved into Byrds Creek Lane. Two segments of the road are not marked on the map – one past the south end of Old Hwy Cir and one past the south end of Byrds Creek Lane.

Both abandoned section involve creeks and, I’m sure, a local government that didn’t want to pay to maintain the bridges that spanned them. I’m pretty sure we were on the more southerly of the two abandoned segments. The bridge over Byrd Creek there is in dreadful shape, as this photo shows.

Abandoned US 127

From the old bridge, here’s a view of the current US 127 bridge.

Abandoned US 127

This abandoned road doesn’t last for long before it fades off into the woods. The hiking trail stays on it only long enough to use the derelict bridge.

Abandoned US 127

A couple years ago an old bridge near my home was demolished. I visited often with my camera. Check out the photos in part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!


8 responses to “An abandoned road in the woods: US 127 in central Tennessee”

  1. Malerie Avatar

    Hi Jim – Love your site – just signed up. Great photos, too. Thanks for your comment on my post.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Glad to have you along, Malerie!

  2. Tori Nelson Avatar

    I love this. The wooded, country roads are the most peaceful place to be!

    1. Jim Avatar

      And then there are nuts like me who stand in the middle of them taking pictures…

  3. ryoko861 Avatar

    Mother Nature does what she can to reclaim her land. The forgotten roads will soon give way to her. She will get her land back.

    I can think of a couple wooded country roads in my area. Makes me wonder what it must have been like and what kind of cars drove on it in its hey day.

    1. Jim Avatar

      You had better believe that nature will reclaim a road … but it takes many decades. Check out this post with pics from a road segment (with bridge) abandoned for 70 years.

  4. Todd Pack Avatar

    There was an old 2-lane country road near our house. In the summer, the trees would arch over the road. My son, when he was 4, called it the tree tunnel. But they’re building a commercial development on one end of the road and a bunch of McMansions on the other, so they’ve bulldozed the trees and are making it a 4-lane. Such as shame.

    1. Jim Avatar

      A buddy of mine up in northern Indiana, an architect and preservationist, was successful in keeping a similarly tree-lined stretch of country road near him from being decimated by new construction. It really takes people with courage and drive to protect such things!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: