The city of Franklin is paying tens of thousands of dollars to have things removed from the Harpeth River near downtown. Much of the clutter has been there for decades and could pose hazards to residents.
The drive through downtown is breathtaking, but unless you work along the river you may not realize what's been washing ashore.
"We do the best we can to pick it up on our property," said J.T. Ward, general manager at Puckett's Boat House.
Puckett's overlooks the river, and employees there were some of the first to notice the trash.
"In the summer, if you're sitting out there, you want it to be clean," Ward said.
Canoers then discovered the trash was coming from an underwater junkyard embedded in the riverbed.
"There are old stoves, rusting metal, big pieces of plastic old white goods," said Andrew Orr, sustainability coordinator for the city of Franklin.
The stuff stretches for five miles through the city, and in the mud some old buried treasures even include cars that are still fully intact.
The cars in the Harpeth are likely from the 1940s and 50s when it was common and accepted for people to dump their unwanted things into the river.
"That was, I guess, the culture, and pollution laws weren't as stringent decades ago," Orr said.
The discarded appliances and cars are past the point of restoration, and when water levels are low, even more things become exposed.
"For boaters and fisherman alike, it could be hazardous," Orr said.
Getting the stuff out will also be a huge challenge and an expensive one at that. Officials estimate it would cost somewhere from $25,000 to $30,000, but the city has received a grant to help cover the costs.
"It's one of those things that needs to be done," Orr said. "We want to do it in a low-impact manor so we're not disturbing the river ecosystem."
As for businesses that depend on the view, it's a relief they've been awaiting for a long time.
The trash removal will begin this summer when water levels are at their lowest.
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