Walnut Creek has produced many stories

Published 8:25 pm Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Some of us remember when Walnut Creek was a good canoeing creek. Putting in at the “double bridges” or “county bridge” meant very little portaging (carrying the canoe) and a pretty good ride back in the old days.

But most of us remember the bridge all clogged up with fallen trees and all sorts of trash that needed to go to the dump instead of a beautiful stream. Lots of stories, good thoughts, good times. Some were not so good, but one story sticks in the minds of lots of you.

If you will remember, two young men were going to canoe the creek, expecting to reach the main body of the creek before dark. The following makes it so special because of those involved. I received a call shortly after dark from one of my special ladies of all times who was concerned about her son and told me who he was with, etc. I explained as best I could while trying not to alarm her that this was not unusual, to misjudge the time, etc. I explained that I couldn’t go very far up the creek in the patrol boat and that I would go as far as I could go, use my siren, horn and flashing lights to let them know that we were there.

Well, I began to get some updates on some that had come downstream, following a trail of empty cans of the beverage that had made Colorado famous and was illegal east of the Mississippi. Truck drivers making that run were pretty popular, and one of the people we were looking for was a truck driver!

Everybody was going home and I had a big day tomorrow, so I called it a night. About midnight the phone rang again, and it was this same sweet lady. She was frantic. After I got her calmed down a little, she told me that the search was becoming a race; she said someone had to find them before Fred did! Believe me, those that knew Fred knew we indeed had to step up the pace because the race got intense. When I heard them coming, my work was done!

Walnut Creek has gotten lots of attention over the years. One case tore at my heart. The elderly couple, both handicapped, fished almost every day, and we all worried about them. As the hours passed, folks became concerned. Late one afternoon, their small fishing boat came into dock with the old gentleman holding her over the side. He had not been able to pull her in. She had apparently died of a heart attack an hour before, after falling in the water.

About a year before, a 15-year-old boy and friend had gone hunting and come into same spot. The 15-year-old was laying face up in the front of the boat. With as perfect as a shotgun can be, it left a large hole in the center of his chest. The friend said he was reaching for his gun to re-position it in the bouncing boat as it discharged.

One of the ugliest sites I have ever seen was as I came into the creek one morning, and the water was covered with dead fish. Did we have an awful fish-kill over night? The biologist said they were poisoned with lime. Someone dumped lime in this one spot, killing a lot of fish.

Later in my career, I was in the upper part of creek and saw approximately 20 carefully skinned cow heads! Just floating in the creek. Someone said it might be related to the rash of rustling that had been going on! Now that was strange!

One morning, two men were in their fishing boat equipped with the pedestal type seats. Both men were seated in the raised seats, and as they made a sudden turn, one went overboard and drowned.

Walnut Creek had one of the oldest boat rental businesses on the lake, but the boats were in terrible shape and the owner refused to do anything about it. I pulled a safety inspection of the boats, and they were as bad or worse than they looked. I tried to cull enough that he could stay in business; he questioned my authority and the knowledge of my training. He was still quite angry as he took out his pocket knife. “Here’s how you tell if a boat is rotten.” He pushed his knife into the side, turned the boat over and took a heavy swing–his knife and hand up to his elbow went through the rotten bottom!

It didn’t take Dick Tracy to figure that there was something going on, and it wasn’t in my department. I always tried to spread the state’s gas business around if the dealer took credit cards, he took my card, next time he told me he didn’t take credit cards anymore, then he point blank told me; “you hurt my business being here!” Very well.

This came from Coosa County. My buddy, Bill Evans, called me one day. This was during the time when there had been a missing person, and everbody was on alert. He said a fisherman had seen what he thought might be the subject, would I pick him up and take him up to Walnut Creek! You have got to be kidding.

We went to the spot he had described, and I prodded around in the mud and sand. There were the definite remains of a very dead deer, without any hair and the slick side up. There were some bubbles of air forming different images. I tried hard to get this–maybe someone with a terrible imagination who had not gotten a bite all day just might think it was a skinny and a very old person!

“Come on Sheriff,” I kidded him. “It’s a nice day, you wanted to get out of the office. I’ll take you for a ride anytime.” But we don’t need this.

Don’t stir old Walnut Creek up again, there’s no telling what she might reveal!