The Breaks

Centuries of Struggle


Indigenous tribes, explorers, farmers, empire builders, lumberjacks, moonshiners—all have come to the Breaks seeking something, and all have been awed by the stalwart beauty of this rugged wilderness. Lives have been lost and hardships endured, fortunes gained and reputations built. While some came to exploit the land, others emerged determined to protect it.

This award-winning film tells the story of six such men. Each set out for the Breaks to make his mark on the world, and although their stories span two centuries, they all battled the same ancient landscape and were forever changed by the experience. Discover the magic of the Breaks through their stories and see why we all must continue the struggle to protect this American treasure.

The Breaks is noteworthy as a piece advocating conservation, a chronicle of human history surrounding a geographical region, and a visual showcase of natural beauty. . . . In one hour, it transports the viewer over the water, in the air, through the seasons, and across two centuries.

Lindenwood University
School of Arts, Media and Communications

There the bass leaps from rushing waters, and there, as nowhere else this side of the Rockies, is the face of nature wild and shy . . . somewhere through the green thickness of poplar, oak, and maple, the river lashes and boils between gray boulders, eddies and dances and laughs through deep pools, or leaps in waves over long ripples . . . with a roar of freedom that once must have shaken the stars.

John Fox, Jr.


Nashville PBS

East Tennessee PBS

Kentucky PBS

Blue Ridge PBS


Cookeville PBS


Staunton PBS



There’s a park in Kentucky and Virginia that most Americans have never visited, let alone heard of. It’s called The Breaks, and what makes its relative anonymity so unusual, is its relative magnificence. The Breaks – to those who know it – is called The Grand Canyon of the South, and that’s no exaggeration. I’ve visited both canyons several times, and I can assure you that one is no less spectacular than the other.

– Mike Rowe