Posts in the history category

Sword Terms

Terms used to describe the Japanese Sword Blade

Aikuchi Small tanto (knife) without a tsuba (hand guard). Carried concealed inside the clothes, often by women.
Ashi Small channels of softer steel extending from the ji into the hamon. Literally "Legs". This irregularity in thehamon is said to prevent large sections of the cutting edge from being broken off at any one time.
Ayasugi A type of jihadda of regular wavy lines produced by selectively filing away sections of the masame patterned steel block when the blank for the sword is being made.
Bo'hi A wide groove or Hi.
Boshi Pattern of the hardened edge on the point.
Choji Clover or mushroom shaped hamon.
Chokuto Straight sword
Gunome Semi circular wave shaped hamon.
Ha Cutting edge
Habuchi The line defining the edge of the hamon, the transitional zone from hard to soft steel.
Hada Forging marks
Hamachi Notch marking the beginning of the sharpened edge
Hamon The pattern of the hardened, martensite steel as it shows on the side of the blade including the transition zonehabuchi to the softer pearlite steel.
Hi Groove in the upper side of the blade.
Hitasura choji Choji shaped hamon, with a mottled blade.
Horimono Carving or engraving on the blade
Inazuma Streaks of hardened steel in a vertical zig-zag pattern in the transition zone habuchi. Literally means "lightning bolts".
Itame Wood-like grain in the steel, produced by using the hammered face of the forged steel block as the side of the blade. It is similar to the side grain in a block of wood, with irregular rounded shapes.
Ji Blade surface above the hamon
Jihadda Pattern on the surface of the blade or ji.
Jitetsu The color and texture of the steel as seen on the surface of the blade or ji.
Katana The katana replaced tachi in the middle of the Muromachi period and was in use until the very end of the Edo period. They were 60.6 cm (2 shaku) long or more. Often worn as part of a pair of swords with a shorterWakizashi during the Edo period. Displayed blade up.
Ken Straight sword made in early Japan. It was replaced by the tachi in the Heian period.
Kinsuji Horizontal streaks of hardened steel in the transition zonehabuchi. Literally means "golden lines".
Kissaki Point of Sword
Ko Nie Small particles of hardened steel, martensite crystals, in the habuchi between the size of nie and nioi.
Ko notare Shallow irregular undulations in the hamon.
Masame Wood-like grain in the steel, produced by using the un hammered edge of the forged steel block as the side of the blade. It is similar to the end grain in a block of wood, with fine regular lines that are closely spaced.
Mei Signature of the Sword Smith
Mekugi ana Peg hole in the tang
Motohaba Width at machi
Mune Back surface
Mune-machi Notch at back marking top of tang
Nagasa Length of the blade
Nakago Tang or handle end of the sword.
Nie Small particles of hardened steel, martensite crystals , in the habuchi large enough to be seen with the naked eye.
Nihonto Japanese Swords. Includes ken, naginatayaritachi, katana, wakizashi and tanto.
Nioi Small particles of hardened steel, martensite or perlite, in the habuchi, too small to be seen individually with the naked eye. They appear as misty areas.
Notare Irregular undulations in the hamon.
Omote Front
Sakihaba Width at yokote
Shinogi Ridge line, defining the edge of the blade
Shinogiji Blade surface above Ridge line
Sori Amount of curvature of the blade
Suguha Straight hamon.
Suriage A shortened tang often due to shortening a tachi to akatana.
Tanto A knife, shorter than a wakizashi.
Tachi Long sword used by the early Samurai from horse back. From the Heian through the early part of the Muromachi period. Tachi usually have a high curvature, sori, and the length is usually between 65 and 70 cm. Displayed blade down.
Togi The polish of the blade. This goes beyond sharpening the blade to a fine finnish to the steel that allows the features of the steel to be seen.
Toran Wave shaped hamon.
Ura Back
Utsuri Whitish effect on blade surface, ji outside of the hamon. Literally means "reflection" and may follow the lines of the hamon.
Wakizashi Shorter sword worn as a pair with the longer katana. The cutting edge is between 12 inches and 24 inches in length. Displayed blade up.
Yakiba Cutting edge
Yasurime The file marks on the nakago (tang)
Yokote Line dividing point from body

Terms used to describe the Japanese Sword Mounting

Fuchi Collar of the Hilt, near the tsuba
Habaki Metal Collar used to prevent the sword from touching the inside of the saya
Ito Braid wrapped on the hilt to hold it to the tang. It is wrapped over the menuki to hold them in place.
Kashira Butt cap on the end of the hilt.
Koshirae The entire sword mounting including the saya, tsuba, tsuka, menuki, habaki, kashira, sageo and other fittings.
Kurikata Knot used to tie the sageo to the sword scabbard.
Medugi Peg used to affix the tsuka to the tang
Menuki Ornament placed over the peg that holds the hilt to the tang
Sageo Cord used to tie the sword scabbard to the belt while being worn.
Same' Ray skin used to cover the hilt.
Saya Scabbard
Shirasaya Plain wooden "resting" scabbard used to store a blade
Tsuba Sword Guard
Tsuka Hilt or Handle

Sword Making Terminology

Age gitae Finnish forging. Several pieces of steel formed in the foundation forming shita gitae are folded together several more times.
Denkai tetsu Iron made from scrap iron in an electrolytic furnace, it is 99.99% pure iron. The smith adds the appropriate amount of carbon in his forge using the process of oroshigane.
Hagane Harder (higher carbon content) steel used just for the cutting edge of the blade when it is constructed in thehon sanmai gitae method.
Hizu-kuri Shaping of the blade from the sunobe. The blade is heated and beaten to shape a small section at a time. The blade will be ready for shiage next.
Hon sanmai gitae A less common form of sword construction, using three pieces of harder steel kawagane for each side of the blade a piece of soft shingane as the core and a special piece of harder steel hagane for the cutting edge.
Kera The raw steel produced in the tatara. About half of the steel is tamahagane and ready for use to make a sword. The remaining steel can be used after the carbon content is adjusted by oroshigane in the smiths forge.
Kaji-oshi Final shaping of the blade with a draw knife, files and rough polishing done by the smith.
Kangan tetsu Sponge iron made in the smelter without oxygen. The smith adjusts the amount of carbon in his forge using the process of oroshigane.
Kawagane Harder (higher carbon content) steel used as a starting material to make the body of the sword. The carbon content is between 1.0 and 1.5 percent.
Kitae Forging or folding the steel bar to prepare it for making the blade.
Kobuse gitae The most common form of sword construction, a jacket of kawagane with a piece of soft shinganecore.
Nakago-shitate Finishing the tang with a file
Omura The omuna stone is pulverized into a powder used in the clay slurry the sword is coated with duringtsuchioki.
Oroshigane The process used to adjust the carbon content of steel using the forge. The carbon level is increased by heating the steel starting at the top of the charcoal in the forge and continuing to burn new charcoal until the steel has reached the bottom. The carbon content of steel is reduced by placing it around the air vent at the bottom of the forge and heating it so that the oxygen combines with the carbon in the steel and is exhausted as carbon monoxide.
Satestu Iron oxide sand used in the smelter to make the steel.
Sen The draw knife used to shape the blade. It is made with a very hard steel blade and works like a plane, scraping away thin layers of metal with each stroke.
Shiage Shaping the blade with a draw knife and file. The surface of the blade is prepared for the application of the clay in tsuchioki. This is done after hizukuri.
Shingane Core steel. Softer (lower carbon content less than 0.5%) steel used to make the core of the sword.
Shitagitae Foundation forging. The first six folds during the forging process.
Soriaoshi Adjusting the curvature of the blade, following yaki ire.
Sunobe Blank steel bar, ready to be forged into a sword.
Tamahagane Raw steel used to make the body of the blade.
Tatara The smelter. It burns charcoal with iron oxide sand to form the tamahagane.
Tanren The process of welding together several smaller pieces of steel into a single block, then it is hammered flat and folded twelve to fifteen times normally cross-wise. This creates the jihadda of the finished sword.
Tsuchi-oki Coating the blade with a slurry containing clay, charcoal powder and pulverized omura stone, prior to hardening. The thickness of the clay coating determines the speed of cooling when the hot blade is quenched in water during yaki ire. The portions of the blade that cool quickly form hard steel structure, the portions of the blade that cool slowly convert back to the softer steel structure. This determines the pattern of the hamon on the finished sword.
Tsukuri-komi A soft core of shigane is placed in a groove in the steel formed during tanren. This is then used to form the sunobe. The shigane or soft steel has been forged previously. This core of softer (lower carbon content steel) in the blade gives the sword resilience and helps prevent the sword from breaking.
Tsumiwakashi Assembling the Steel Bock for forging. Small pieces of kawagane are piled into a stack, they are wrapped in paper and dipped in clay slurry. This is heated and beaten to weld it into a single piece of steel and drive out impurities.
Yaki-ire The hardening of the steel by heating and quenching in water. The cutting edge of the blade has a thin coat of clay while the rest of the sword has a thick coating of clay. When steel is heated to between 700 C to 900 C the crystalline steel changes to the structure called austentite. When it is cooled quickly, where there is thin clay, it changes to martensite. The rest of the steel cools slowly enough that it changes back to it's original ferrite or pearlite forms. The blade also gets most of it's curvature due to the differential expansion of the thin edge and the thicker back of the blade.
Yaki-modoshi Tempering the blade to relieve internal stresses afteryaki ire. The blade is heated to about 150 C and quenched in water.

Terminology used to talk about Sword Smiths

Ningen Kokuho National Living Treasure or (Designated as the Owner of the Important Infinitive Cultural Asset)
Masamune prize Supreme prize awarded to the best submission by a Mukansa Smith at the annual Sword Making Competition
Mukansa A Swordsmith who has been promoted above the general Sword Making Competition and is only judged against other Mukansa.

Other Terms used when identifying the origin of a sword.

Ato Mei A signature of a sword smith added latter, not by the smith himself. These are considered to be correct, and do not match the smiths signature on purpose. The features of the sword itself, support this attribution.
Bizen One of the five regional traditions of Japanese Sword making.
Dai Mei A blade made by a master smith and signed by the student who assisted.
Dai Saku A blade made by a student under the direction of a master smith and signed by the master. This is often considered to be equivalent to the work of the master.
Gendaito Modern or contemporary swords made after 1876 or so.
Go Kaden The five traditions of Sword Making. Usually a sword can be placed in one of the five tradtions as the first step in Kantai.
Gimei A false signature Mei, added to the sword in an attempt to deceive.
Gunto Swords made for the Japanese Military during World War II. Often they were not made in the traditional way.
Kantei The act of identifying the origin of a blade. This includes the time it was made, the place and the smith who made the sword.
Koto A sword made before about 1573.
Mumei A sword without a signature from the smith.
Mino One of the five regional traditions of Japanese Sword making.
Oshigata A rubbing or drawing of the sword showing it's features. It may be of the entire blade or only the nakago (tang) to show the mei (signature).
Shinsakuto Newly made sword.
Shin Shinto A "new new" sword made between about 1772 to 1925.
Shinto A "new" sword made between about 1573 and 1760.
Sho shin A true and genuine blade (or other item).
Soshu One of the five regional traditions of Japanese Sword making.
Yamashiro One of the five regional traditions of Japanese Sword making.
Yamato One of the five regional traditions of Japanese Sword making.


Posted by ES Team on 09 January, 2015 history, hobbies | 0 comments | Read more →

Defendu Fighting System-Sykes-Fairbairn Commando knife

Sykes Fairbairn Commando Knife

Defendu Fighting System-Sykes-Fairbairn Commando knife

Not all fighting/defense systems are equal. I want to discuss Defendu, it’s history, the Sykes-Fairbairn knife and how they are used.

Lt. Colonel William E. Fairbairn worked with the Shanghai Military Police for thirty years. During this time he made an in depth study of every known form of close combat. He tested his findings and methods against criminals many who were armed.

Working with Eric Anthony Sykes, these two men developed Defendu a modern martial arts system. It is a system based in hand to close-quarter, hand-to-hand combat. Defendu has roots in jutjitsu and judo. Fairbain trained at the famed Kodokan School in Tokyo. Combining his training with his police work experience and with the help of Eric Anthony Sykes, developed a simple to learn style that provided effective results.

The Defendu system was geared primarily self defense. There was a lethal version of this system that was highly effective taught at European Commando Schools, US marines, US Rangers, CIA and FBI. Most military combat training had its start in Defendu practices. Many police agencies throughout the U.S. and Canada have adopted Defendu including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

In the early 1940's these two men designed the standard commando knife. By 1941 this knife was standard issue for British Commonwealth forces and many US forces. It was simply known as "The Commando Knife" This commando knife style was directly designed from the Defendu system. The design has influenced the design of knives throughout the many decades since its introduction.

The Sykes-Fairbairn Commando knife often is compared to a stiletto, a weapon optimized for thrusting, although the Sykes-Fairbairn knife is capable of being used for both thrusting and slashing (cutting). The Sykes-Fairbairn Fighting Knifes design is exclusively for surprise attack and fighting. The slender double edged blade blade can easily penetrate the ribcage and is integral to its design. The vase handle style gives a precise grip to give the wielder control during the attack. Here is what Fairbanks had to say about his knife:

"In close-quarters fighting there is no more deadly weapon than the knife. In choosing a knife there are two important factors to bear in mind: balance and keenness. The hilt should fit easily in your hand, and the blade should not be so heavy that it tends to drag the hilt from your fingers in a loose grip. It is essential that the blade have a sharp stabbing point and good cutting edges, because an artery torn through (as against a clean cut) tends to contract and stop the bleeding. If a main artery is cleanly severed, the wounded man will quickly lose consciousness and die.

This was the practical and effective Defendu "kill or get killed" approach.

There is something about a weapon that is both functional and pleasing to the eye at the same time. Where the weapon possesses admirable qualities of both form and function, then it's appeal is all the greater overall. This is the Sykes-fairbairn Commando Knife.

Our Sykes-Fairbairn Commando Knife World War II replica is a authentic detailed, well put together commando knife.

Our knife is 15-1/4" long with a Sharp double edged 440 stainless blade. The blade is 7-1/2" long and top beveled as were the originals. The hand fitting ferruled blackened metal grip handles is solid steel grooved for the perfect grip. Comes on a nylon woven belt sheath.

I give the Sykes-Fairbairn knife my stump of approval

Posted by ES Team on 02 January, 2015 history, martial arts | 0 comments | Read more →

Columbus Day

Christopher Columbus Day
My Italian friends love Columbus day. This day celebrates the great contributions that the Italian people brought to the new world.

My Native American friends do not celebrate Columbus day. For them Columbus day represents the beginning of the end of their culture that was replaced by the White Europeans.

As for me I am somewhat of an armchair historian. As an armchair historian I wanted to take an opportunity to set straight two urban legends about Columbus that are believed to be true but are only myths that have endured through time.

First of all it is widely believed that European society at the time of Columbus thought the world was flat and Columbus proved the world was round. We are taught in history that Columbus wanted to take on this great voyage to prove the world was round. This is a fallacy. By the 1490's people of learning knew that the world was round. Sailors new that they were not going to fall of an imaginary edge. The world had been proven round by several people over the last thousand years before Columbus. This was not in debate. Columbus wanted fame and wealth. That was the bottom line. He was much like the Rock Star of the 1490's.

The second history blunder is Columbus's so called affair with the Spanish Queen. Never happened but it makes a great romantic story. We love the love. The love angle may take off a little of the roughness off the edges. Columbus was a product of his time. He was what he was. He brought riches of never seen before proportions to Spain. Because of Columbus Spain changed and became a world super power. But Columbus bought this wealth at the cost of the Native Tribes. Do a little research and we learn that Columbus was not a nice guy. He was a smart guy. He took a gamble that was a huge risk and it paid off well. His accomplishments are many. He was an amazing guy, but he was not a nice guy.

These are only a couple the myths of Columbus that we accept as fact. There are many more. But I digress....
No matter what your feelings are towards Columbus we all have to agree on the fact that he was a vital figure in history. He opened the way to the New World for all Europeans. This was a tremendous change for all cultures that were involved, whether it be for good or for ill.
Posted by ES Team on 29 December, 2014 history, holidays | 0 comments | Read more →

Pictures and history of Guntersville, Alabama

Extremely-Sharp Knives and Swords is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. We live in a beautiful, unique place that is steeped in Southern Culture. Guntersville is located in a valley off Sand Mountain, on the Tennessee River. In the 1930's the Guntersville Dam was built by the Army Corp of Engineers and the Tennessee Valley Authority making Guntersville Lake one of the larger man made lakes. The Guntersville Dam has three turbines that provides most of the electricity to Marshall county and the surrounding counties.

We at Extremely-Sharp want to share our hometown and our culture on our Extremely-Sharp Life page from time to time. This is the beginning, of what I hope will be many posts, describing life here in Guntersville.

Today I thought I would start by posting a few pictures from downtown Guntersville.

Guntersville, AL Post Office

This is the old Post Office. The old Post Office was replaced by a brand spankin new Post Office that was opened a couple of years ago. The old Post Office was built in the 30's and is one of our classier landmarks.

Guntersville, AL Downtown

Here is view of downtown Guntersville.

Guntersville, AL The Glover

The Glover is our Oldest Hotel. Designed for the wealthy, The Glover has not been a Hotel for many years. It has had a series of over halls and has housed mostly restaurants but has been a crafts mall at one time.

Guntersville, AL Court House

Across from the Glover you can see our court house. This is where I go to pay my car registration. The Court House is the Hub of Guntersville Bureaucracy.

Guntersville, AL First United Methodist Church

Last stop for today is the First United Methodist Church which is one of the oldest Church's in Guntersville.

This is where we live. A nice small town that has it's own unique personality wrapped in southern charm.

Posted by ES Team on 28 December, 2014 ES family, history | 0 comments | Read more →

Knives and Common Conversation

I was sitting around the other day pondering a few things. I like knives. That's one of the reasons I sell knives… because I like them. Knives have been a big part of our society for a very long time. People have had relationships with knives for generations. I began to reflect on how knives have shaped our thoughts and conversations. I thought about old knife sayings that have become common phrases in every day life.  

This is what I came up with:
  • To the hilt
  • It cuts both ways
  • Stabbed in the back
  • A dagger to the heart
  • Like a hot knife through butter
  • The plan was foiled
  • They crossed swords over
  • Double edged sword 

After a little more thought I came up with firearm phrases that have become common.

This is what I came up with:
  • Lock, stock, and barrel
  • Keep your powder dry
  • I have my sights set on
  • A flash in the pan
  • When the smoke cleared
  • Going off half-cocked
  • The plan misfired
  • A shotgun approach to the problem
  • A loose cannon 

These are short lists. I am sure there are many, many more. Knives and firearms are a big part of our history. They have helped shape our communities and the way we express ourselves. I love knives.
Posted by ES Team on 24 December, 2014 history | 0 comments | Read more →

Gifting A Knife (tip)

Where I come from it is considered unlucky to give a knife as a gift to a friend because it will cut or sever the relationship. To avoid this curse, the receiver should give a coin in return so as to "pay" for the gift. It is common gesture to include a penny with the knife that is given as a gift which the receiver returns to the giver as "payment".
Gifting a Knife Tip
Posted by ES Team on 16 December, 2014 history, how-to | 0 comments | Read more →

Knife history: Drawing Blood Lore

Knife drawing blood lore

Just as with swords, regional and cultural superstitions exist regarding the treatment of knives that are used in combat. One common superstition states that it is bad luck to return a combat knife from its sheath without using it to draw blood. A Scottish myth exists surrounding drawing the sgian dubh (Dirk), without drawing the blood of an Englishman. These superstitions are usually attempts to insult the culture of the enemy.

There are cultures that believe a knife does not belong to an individual until it has 'bit' them, or tasted their blood. After initial blood letting the owner and the knife are bound in their destiny. Practitioner in these superstitions may intentionally prick their finger on the blade of a knife rather than wait for an accidental cut. The knife will stay sharp longer and is less likely to accidentally cut its owner once it has tasted his or her blood.

This blood drawing has made it's way into our classic science fiction. Dune Writer Frank Herbert invented the Fremen and the Crysknife. Once a Fremen warrior unsheathed his blade it must draw blood before it is sheathed.

Posted by ES Team on 01 December, 2014 history | 0 comments | Read more →

Possum Hunting Back in the Day

Possum Hunting ESKnives
Possum Hunting Back in the Day

Back in the day, in Alabama, before our modern day ways of entertainment, people in the South participated in the sport of possum hunting. It was usually a family affair that included the children and neighbor children with Dads and Granddads.

As it has been passed down to me, possum hunting was not very hard to learn. Mostly walking through the woods following a couple of dogs waiting for the dogs to “tree” a possum. The most important part of possum hunting was the sense of community, the coming together and having a good time. The possum was the catalyst, the reason behind it all. Once the possum was treed you could see the possum with lights. Sometimes it took a while to catch up with the dogs.

Some hunters would bring the possums back home, skin them and cook them up. My family still talks about baked possum and sweet potatoes even though it has been a few generations since anyone in my family ate a possum. It was lean times back then and any extra meat helped the family from going hungry.

When the dogs found their possum it was easy to find them. You just followed the barking because they would raise a ruckus. When you got to the tree, you had to try and get the possum out of the tree. My Granddad told me there were two ways to get a possum out of a tree. The way was to try and throw rocks and pieces of wood at the possum and try to knock him out of the tree. If that didn’t work they would have to climb the tree and physically push the possum out of the tree. Much of the time the Possum would "sull up", that is they would roll up in a ball and play dead. They were not generally aggressive. But every once in a while there would be an angry possum. There were great tales of family members trying to get that possum out of the tree with them not falling out of the tree. Sometimes the possum won and sometimes the hunter won. Possums have alot of teeth.

The hunters always brought with them a "gunny sack" which was usually a canvas sack for carrying possums home. When the possum had made it to the ground another hunter would pick them up by the tail and put him in a gunny sack. They would round up the dogs and go looking for more. There were times that possum hunting was lean and they would walk for several hours and come home empty handed.

Back when my Granddad was a boy there was not much entertainment like today. My Grandad was born at the turn of the century. The turn of the 20th century not the 21st century. There was no TV, Radio, internet or cell phones. People had to depend on themselves for entertainment. Families did more together. In my family Possum hunting was a great time and provided much entertainment. Possum hunting brought the family together created life time bonds. There was fun to be had with it. Maybe, if people would go possum hunting now instead of watching the TV, obsessing about Facebook or texting their friends they would be better off and have a lot more fun. But thinking about it…. I doubt it. DID I TELL YOU ABOUT THE TEETH……
Posted by ES Team on 29 November, 2014 history, hunting | 0 comments | Read more →

History of Tanto Blades

Tanto Blades

Tanto BladesTanto blades
; what are they and where did they come from? I thought I would share a little history on this specialized blade. It may be true or it may not. This is legend and lore that I am sure has some smatterings of the truth.

During the ancient Chinese dynasties, swords would be broken in battle. Swords were an expensive commodity, they required precious resources and took a lot of effort to produce. After battles it became custom for warriors to take these broken parts of their swords and forge them into custom knives and short swords. This is how tanto blades were born.

Tanto Blade with knuckle grip

 The tanto knives have a designed that gives them both strength and a sharp point. The tanto can out perform the sheepsfoot and the drop point end in a fight and on the battlefield. Cutting surface area is sacrificed to gain tip strength. The tanto point is thin enough to puncture and stab with the thickness to withstand the toughest use. The tanto point is hollow ground with a spine that narrows down to a very thin cutting edge.

Sharpening can be a little difficult due to it's shape. With some practice and care it can be done. There are two angles to sharpening this blade. The long straight cutting edge needs a different angle than the smaller part of the blade that curves up. The junction of these two angles is where you have to be careful. If you use the straight cutting edge angle on the upward curve angle you will ruin the edge on the upward curve. Be cautious. If you don't feel confident you can always find a professional to sharpen it for you. Hardware stores and knife shows are good place to look for the professionals.

Posted by ES Team on 26 November, 2014 history, knife reviews | 0 comments | Read more →

Mississippi Bill Harris

Mississippi Bill
All small towns have their local heroes. Guntersville, Alabama is no different. We have Mississippi Bill Harris. Bill was best know around these parts as the man who rode the rivers in his 12 foot aluminum boat he named Miss Lake Guntersville. All in all Bill clocked in over 47,000 miles traveling the rivers he loved.

Bill was born in 1912 here in Guntersville, Alabama. His Dad was a local Doctor and he had an older brother. During the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic Bill's father died from the flu. He and his brother were split up and he lived with a cousin and his family.

When Bill was 12 he began working for the local theater. This was the beginning of long road with the theater. Later in his life Bill and his wife Dora owned the local theater in Guntersville they called the Lake Theater. They were well known to the locals and earned the nicknamed Mr. and Mrs. Entertainment. The Lake Theater played movies and hosted local concerts.

In 1933 Bill started working with TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority). A dam was going to be built in Guntersville bringing hydroelectricity to the valley. Bill brought TVA engineers out to scout out the location of the Dam. Even after the Dam was built Bill would give tours of the newly formed lake.

During World War II Bill left the valley to fight for his country.

Bill loved the local rivers and after he retired he began to run the rivers in his 12 foot boat. Many of his trips included traveling the Mississippi River and that is how he got his nickname Mississippi Bill This was quite a feat Bill accomplished in small aluminum boat. His first trip was in 1967 from Guntersville Lake to Knoxville, Tennessee. His most famous trip was in 1968 which again began at Guntersville Lake and ended in New Orleans at the French Quarter. All in all he made 22 trips.

In 1986 Bill picked up the key to the city of Mobile. He announced that he was retiring. It was time to spend more time with his wife. He had traveled over 47,000 miles at that time. He was ready to dock the Miss Lake Guntersville. She would be spending the rest of her days at the Guntersville Museum. Bill was 74. Even after retiring Bill could not stay off the river and made three more trips before he died. He made a trip in 1987 and 1991. In 1997 he made his last trip to Chicago and Lake Michigan. He was 85 years old. Bill traveled a total of 55,000 miles in is lifetime. To put that in perspective 57,000 miles is over twice around the earth. That is a lot of miles in a small aluminum boat.

Being a local celebrity Bill became the regular Grand Marshall of the Christmas Parade, riding in his boat and giving the children quarters. In the 1980's Guntersville even had a Bill Harris Day. Bill died in 2004.

If you are visiting Guntersville you may want to stop by the museum and Check out Miss Lake Guntersville and learn more about the travels of Mississippi Bill Harris.
Posted by ES Team on 14 November, 2014 ES family, get outdoors, history | 0 comments | Read more →

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