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Standing on the top of the limestone bluffs looking down over magnificent Aberdeen Lake, visitors plan the day ahead. There will definitely be fishing in coves that hold big bass. 4,121-acre Aberdeen Lake follows the serpentine path of the old Timbigbee River, and the channel down the middle is perfect for boating and water skiing. Visitors will enjoy lunch at lakeside Aberdeen, reached by a scenic walk past several restored antebellum homes. On second thought, one day is not enough time to enjoy all that Aberdeen Lake in the Pines Region of Mississippi has to offer.
Part of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, Aberdeen Lake was created by the Aberdeen Lock and Dam in Monroe County. The Tenn-Tom, as it is also known, connects the Tennessee Valley with the Gulf of Mexico. It joins the Tennessee River in northeast Mississippi with the Tombigbee River near Armory, Mississippi and travels from Yellow Creek Port at Pickwick Lake to Demopolis, Alabama. In 1760, a French explorer wrote about connecting the Tennessee River with the Tombigbee River, and planning began in 1810. It would take over 170 years, however, for the project to become a reality. The 234-mile long waterway was approved by Congress in 1945 and construction finally began in 1972. Completed in 1984, it is the largest water resource project in the United States and the largest earth-moving project in history. In fact, building the Tenn-Tom meant moving more than three times as much dirt as was moved during the construction of the Suez Canal.
The Tenn-Tom was built primarily for navigation and shaves 800 miles off the trip for manufacturers transporting goods to the Gulf of Mexico. It is sometimes referred to as the "Chain of Lakes," and it is made up of ten lakes and ten locks and dams along with canals. Aberdeen Lake is part of the river section, and the 13.5-mile long lake follows the course of the Tombigbee River. The US Army Corps of Engineers, in conjunction with state agencies, manages the thousands of acres of water and land that make up the project.
There are several recreation sites around Aberdeen Lake managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The Blue Bluff Campground and Recreation Area has day use facilities and RV and tent sites. It gets its name from the clay and limestone bluffs that extend 80 feet above Aberdeen Reservoir. Hiking trails lead to the top of the bluff, and there is also a swimming beach.
Aberdeen Lake bends and twists following the path of the Tombigbee River, and its shore is rimmed with coves and loops. The fishing is varied and challenging. There are healthy populations of crappie and catfish in the many coves, and in the summer the bass hang near the ledges of the old river. Every April, Aberdeen Lake hosts the "Tenn-Tom Bassmaster Classic" drawing anglers from all over. Three Corps-managed concrete boat ramps with courtesy docks provide access to the lake, and there is a marina and lakeside restaurant in the City of Aberdeen on the lake's east bank.
Founded in 1835 by Scotsman Robert Gordon, the City of Aberdeen was made Monroe's County seat in 1849. It is still the county seat today, and its beautiful architecture illustrates its rich history. There are over 200 homes on the National Register of Historic Places with architectural styles ranging from antebellum mansions to Victorians and craftsman bungalows. Visitors can tour the city on the self-guided Historic Driving Tour, and every spring, some of the homes are opened for public tours. The Elkin Theater, which opened in 1937, was lovingly restored to its art nouveau splendor and now shows movies every Friday and Saturday night. After a day on Aberdeen Lake, visitors will find restaurants, various accommodations and plenty to see and do in Aberdeen.
Aberdeen Lake may be part of the much larger Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, but its value extends far beyond just navigation. The lake is a fantastic recreation destination and will provide days of enjoyment for visitors.
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