Belle Vue Cabin before it was dismantled and moved to Red Caboose Park
Abraham Louis DeMoss built Belle Vue overlooking the Harpeth River off Morton Mill Road in about 1796. His first son, Abraham Louis DeMoss (known as Abram), later built Belle Vue II on Old Harding Road on the other side of the Harpeth River. That house is still standing and there is an historical marker in front of it giving a partial history.
Abram’s eighth child, James Skelton DeMoss (1821-1864), later built the original portion of Riverside on the hill near the original Belle Vue cabin. It is said he was killed in the dining room of the house by a former DeMoss slave just after the end of the Civil War.
Belle Vue Cabin as it now sits on the hill overlooking Red Caboose Park
The newer portions of the house were built just prior to the Civil War by Dr. William J. Carter for his wife, Nancy Amonica (Nannie) DeMoss, the youngest daughter of Abram and sister of James Skelton. The two were married on May 9, 1850 when he was 42 and she was 22.
Dr. Carter died in 1878 and Nannie remained at Riverside for almost 35 years after his death. Their only son, Belfield Francis Carter inherited the house. He then left the house to his son, Belfield Francis (Frank) Carter Jr. Many may remember Frank and his wife Dolly as owners of the Bellevue Market on the corner of Old Harding and Bellevue Roads. That is another story for another time.
Riverside was a beautiful house with Ruby Glass around the front entrance door and a grand staircase in the entrance hallway. After it burned to the ground, the Carter family donated the Belle Vue cabin to the Bellevue Harpeth Historic Association and it was relocated to Red Caboose Park in order to save it from a possible similar fate.
This photo shows the widening of Old Hickory Boulevard between Charlotte Pike and Highway 70 South. You are looking south in this photo.
Old Hickory Blvd. construction between Highway 70 S and Highway 100. This photo is looking north toward 70 S.
Old Hickory Boulevard is one of the most confusing roads in Davidson County. It makes a loop around most of the city and when someone says, “It’s on Old Hickory Boulevard,” you’re never sure exactly where in the city they are talking about.
Old Hickory was a very narrow, winding and hilly road when I moved to Bellevue. It went from Highway 70 South to Charlotte Pike, then from Charlotte Pike over to Old Charlotte where it ends and become River Road Pike over to River Road. Old Hickory picked up on the other side of the river near Annex Avenue where there used to be a ferry that took you across the river to OHB (Old Hickory Boulevard).
In the late 1980s, before OHB was widened, a large chunk of the road broke off and slid down the hill near Ridge Lake. The Highway Department decided that would be a good time to widen and straighten the road a little.
Also, in the 1960s and 70s, near that same area of OHB, was what was called Buzzard Hollow. It was a garbage dump for the area. Before they built Ridge Lake they filled over the dump, then the road was widened and most people in Bellevue never knew it was there.
At one time Bellevue was split into two distinct sections, Highway 70 South and Highway 100. The only way to get from one to the other was Old Harding Road and if the train was going through you had to wait until it passed. River Plantation and Reese Smith helped solve that problem when they put the railroad underpass on Sawyer Brown Road from Highway 70 South to Old Harding Road.
.In the late 1980s, Senator Douglas Henry, Jimmy Vance and Doug Underwood were instrumental in getting Old Hickory Boulevard extended from Highway 70 South to Highway 100 giving one more way to get from one side of Bellevue to the other. It took a lot of cooperation between the developers of the Devon Farm property, the railroad and the city of Nashville, but it eventually came to pass.
Just off Highway 70 with the entrance off McCrory Lane, across the Harpeth River from the Veterans Cemetery, is a hidden gem of a state park. It wasn’t always a park, though. It was a quarry from 1914 until 1918. In 1931, the quarry was bought and turned into a resort. The new owners pumped out the standing water in the quarry, the bottom was sealed, the water was filtered and it became a swimming hole. They also trucked in white sand to make the beach.
This swimming spot featured things that would never fly today. There was a wooden walkway attached to the rock sides of the quarry as well as a water slide and water wheel.
On the north rim, overlooking the lake, was a large building. Stone steps went from the lake all the way up to the building where people could shower, change, eat and relax.
According to a man who worked there when he was young, maintaining the electric generator (since there was no public power that far from town in those years) recalled, “All these gangster type bootleggers from Chicago used to come in and bring their girlfriends, While the girls lounged on the beach, the mobsters would spend two or three days at a time inside the club, gambling.”
The club and swimming spot supposedly closed around the time of WWII. There are still the remains of the dance floor of the club overlooking the lake as well as other outbuildings. There are now walking trails and don’t miss the smaller quarry which is easy to miss. The deer are abundant and usually not afraid of walkers and it’s a great place to watch for other wildlife and enjoy the Harpeth River.