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Limestone's Cowford Campgrounds holds open house

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — It's not the beach, but don't tell that to the 20-plus campers in Athens who have erected lighted palm trees on the Tennessee River bank.

"It looks so beautiful at night when they are all lit," said camper Virginia Vickers from Decatur. "You can almost imagine you're in Florida."

It would be easier to imagine if not for the cool temperatures Monday during the open house cookout at Cowford Campgrounds at the end of Cowford Road in southern Limestone County.

Vickers, her husband, Walt, and their fellow campers Brenda and Bobby Nave and Judy and Gale McMahan, all of Athens, and Mary and Billy Johnson of Danville huddled around a fire in a metal container to wait on the food. Limestone County Commissioner Bill Latimer, his county shop workers and Cowford caretaker Mike Nave grilled pork tenderloin and hot dogs to celebrate the new campgrounds.

The commission and the Athens City Council took over maintenance of the 50 acres from the Tennessee Valley Authority three years ago. The site offers 40 recreational-vehicle camping spots, primitive camping, swimming and a dock.

The county and city have expanded the restrooms to add two private showers and laundry services.

TVA also is working with the city and county on a native plant program. Fields are sown with wildflowers and Indian grass. Future plans are to add a walking trail and sewer, Mike Nave said.

The city and county also have their eyes on 70 adjoining acres that circle Round Island Creek, he said.

"If TVA is willing to let property go, then I think the city and county need to get it," Mayor Dan Williams said. "I can envision more projects like resorts that would benefit us with revenue."

Many at Cowford stay three months out of the year. Their satellite dishes are perched on upright wooden poles. They have swings, Chinese lanterns and lighted palms trees on their hookup sites.

Cost is $17 a night for a utility hookup site or $10 a night for primitive camping.

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