Nature & Science
Fort Donelson National Battlefield is a 600-acre Civil War era fort built on the banks of the Cumberland River near Dover, the county seat of Stewart County, northwestern Middle Tennessee. The battlefield includes the earthen fort, upper and lower batteries, approximately two miles of outer earthworks, Visitor Center, Surrender House, and the National Cemetery. Fort Donelson lies within the Western Highland Rim Subsection, Highland Rim Section, of the Interior Low Plateaus Physiographic Province. Although small in area, the park is topographically diverse. Whether driving the park tour or hiking the trails the visitor will encounter terrain from narrow ridges, steep slopes and ravines often with only a gully floor, to bottomlands and floodplains. Several small streams, often intermittent or seasonally flowing meander through the park and are bridged for foot traffic. The parallel river valleys and reservoirs are the major topographical features. The vegetation has been disturbed since settlement and present plant cover is mostly the results of anthropogenic influences. In this respect, the park is representative of the entire region. Oaks and other hardwood trees cover most of the park. Fort Donelson is a four-season park. A visit during the summer provides a view of the Cumberland River (Lake Barkley)at what is known as a summer pool and all the vegetation is a lush green. Many songbirds sing their melodies as the hatchlings call for food. In the autumn, the Oaks and other hardwood trees splash the park in a blanket of brilliant colors. Fall and winter visitors can better view the terrain the fort was built upon and the extreme weather conditions where the soldiers lived and fought. Spring brings the promise of better times. As you drive the park roads, walk the trails, visit the historic fort and other sites, look for and try to identify some of the hundreds of plants and wild flowers that flourish in and around the park. Dr. Edward W. Chester, Department of Biology, and Austin Peay State University has inventoried and cataloged 100 common plants. A list of these plants is available at the Visitor Center Information Desk.