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MTSU’s partnership with Radnor Lake shines in cont...

MTSU’s partnership with Radnor Lake shines in contributions to state park

If a trip to Radnor Lake State Park is on your list of things to do before summer comes to an end, take note of the work done by some industrious MTSU students to make your visit more interesting.

Students under the guidance of Dr. Doug Heffington, director of MTSU’s Global Studies and Cultural Geography Program, completely reconstructed the “valve house” at the most visited state park in Tennessee last year.

“Radnor was an industrial complex,” said Heffington. “It was there for the sole purpose of providing water to the L&N Railroad in Nashville.”

Doug Heffington, left, director of the MTSU Global Studies and Cultural Geography Program, poses with Radnor Lake State Park ranger and MTSU alumnus Steve Ward in front of the reconstructed valve house at the park. (Photo courtesy of Doug Heffington)

Dr. Doug Heffington, left, director of the MTSU Global Studies and Cultural Geography Program, poses with Radnor Lake State Park ranger and MTSU alumnus Steve Ward in front of the reconstructed valve house at the park. (Photo courtesy of Doug Heffington)

The valve house, which had collapsed after years of water and ice damage, had protected a huge valve that furnished the railroad with up to 1 million gallons of water a day for the trains serving the nation’s geographical and industrial expansion.

Students also cleaned and prepared the valve, stabilized the valve box and gathered geographical, historical and archaeological data pertaining to the L&N industrial complex.

Geography students participating in the fieldwork included Heather Allen, Dan Phannamvong, Victoria Sullivan, Jennifer Grissom, Ashley Smith, Devin Rossell and Aaron Carson.

“They’ve developed their sense of place, their connection, their rootedness to Radnor because they worked there,” said Heffington. “They’ve woven themselves into the fabric of what has become the natural area.”

Radnor Lake State Park, which encompasses 1,332 acres on Otter Creek Road in Nashville, is a haven for bird-watchers, hikers and wildlife observers. In addition to more than six miles of trails, the park boasts various educational resources and programs about the native flora and fauna.

MTSU has been involved with various research efforts at Radnor Lake for more than a decade. These efforts include recording and preserving oral histories and geographies of the lake area; performing historical field work, including the documentation of historic farmsteads and settlement patterns; and developing historic trails.

To learn more about the Global Studies and Cultural Geography Program, contact Heffington at doug.heffington@mtsu.edu or call 615-898-5978.

— Gina Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

A look at the valve that pumped up to one million gallons of water a day at the L&N industrial complex from the top of the stairs leading down into the valve box. MTSU students rebuilt the valve house, which had been undermined by water and ice damage, in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Doug Heffington)

A look at the valve that pumped up to one million gallons of water a day at the L&N industrial complex from the top of the stairs leading down into the valve box. MTSU students rebuilt the valve house, which had been undermined by water and ice damage, in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Doug Heffington)


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