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Archive for tennessee

A Flooded Forest in Tennessee

By Linda Tancs

Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake State Park has an ecosystem unlike any other in the state. That’s because it’s a flooded forest, resulting from a series of violent earthquakes in the early 1800s that caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards for a short period of time, which created the lake. A variety of aquatic plants and flowers occupy the shoreline and saturate the shallow water, together with towering cypress trees with submerged stumps. As you might expect, the lake also hosts an array of shore and wading birds as well as eagles. Boating is a key activity here; scenic pontoon boat tours are offered May through September.

Following the Mississippi

By Linda Tancs

You may have wondered whether you can drive along the course of the Mississippi River. Yes, there’s a road for that. The Great River Road National Scenic Byway follows the course of the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, passing through 10 states. Its designation as a National Scenic Byway is in recognition of the route’s outstanding assets in the areas of culture, history, nature, recreation and scenic beauty. The different roads and highways comprising the byway are marked by a green pilot’s wheel logo to keep you on track. Watch for river-related attractions and interpretative centers. You can take in the whole route in 36 hours of straight driving, but why not stretch it out for four to 10 days and enjoy the ride.

Nashville’s Hottest New Spot

By Linda Tancs

Years in the making, the National Museum of African American Music is now a part of the fabric of the music scene in Nashville, Tennessee. Located downtown on Broadway, it’s the only museum dedicated to preserving the legacy and celebrating the accomplishments of the many music genres created, influenced or inspired by African Americans. Over 50 genres and subgenres of music, including spirituals, blues, jazz, gospel, R&B and hip-hop, can be explored throughout five different galleries. Timed tours run throughout the day every 30 minutes.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Gray’s Anatomy

By Linda Tancs

You never know where fossils of the Early Pliocene Epoch will turn up. That’s surely how workers in the eastern Tennessee town of Gray felt when they unearthed fossils in 2000 during a road construction project. The only known fossil site of its age in the Appalachian region, it preserves the remains of an ancient sinkhole pond that existed around 5 million years ago, revealing tapirs, rhinos, alligators, mastodons and more. And the dig is far from over. More than 25,000 fossils have been catalogued from the site, including several extinct species that are new to science. Learn more at Gray Fossil Site & Museum, which is built around this amazing discovery.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Chasing the Trace

By Linda Tancs

The Old Natchez Trace is a travel corridor used by American Indians and others, representing over 10,000 years of history. Today it’s known as Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile recreational road and scenic drive through Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. It’s so much more than a drive, though. It’s also a designated cycling route as well as a place for hiking, biking, horseback riding and camping. You’ll have the opportunity to see prehistoric mound sites, gorgeous waterfalls, imprints of Old Natchez at places like Sunken Trace and the hills of Mississippi at Jeff Busby Little Mountain. You’ll even find The Meriwether Lewis monument, marking the burial site of famed explorer Meriwether Lewis, near present-day Hohenwald, Tennessee.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Tennessee’s Cherokee

By Linda Tancs

Tennessee’s only national forest, Cherokee National Forest is the largest tract of public land in the state, separated into two parts by Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Covering nearly 630,000 acres in 10 East Tennessee counties, it has a whopping 30 developed campgrounds, 30 picnic areas, 700 miles of trail, hundreds of miles of cold water streams and seven whitewater rivers, among other things. Recreational opportunities are plentiful, a popular one being ginseng harvesting. Ginseng is a native plant of Tennessee that grows mostly in cool, moist mountain forests. Keep an eye out for the permitting process in the coming months. The collection process is limited.

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As coronavirus proceeds, it is likely that the vast majority of us will be limited in our travels. But this, too, shall pass. Our love for travel remains, so Travelrific will continue offering travel inspiration in this medium. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Nashville’s Italianate Villa

By Linda Tancs

Belmont Mansion is Tennessee’s largest antebellum house, an Italianate villa in Nashville that once boasted an art gallery, a bowling alley and a zoo, among other things. Originally the summer home for Nashville socialite Adelicia Acklen and her family, the estate also served as temporary headquarters for the Union army during the Civil War and later as a women’s college. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971, the mansion features 36 rooms over 19,000 square feet. A guided tour takes about one hour.

UPDATE: Since the scheduling of this post, the Nashville area has suffered one of the most devastating storms in its history. Please consider donating to a relief organization and keep those affected in your thoughts and prayers.

Good to the Last Drop in Nashville

By Linda Tancs

The Cheek family of Nashville, Tennessee, were successful entrepreneurs. One of their ventures gave rise to Maxwell House coffee, proclaimed to be “good to the last drop” by President Theodore Roosevelt. Thanks to their efforts, the public gets to enjoy the mansion and gardens of Cheekwood. Originally built as the home of Leslie and Mabel Cheek in 1929, the 55-acre estate is now the site of a botanical garden as well as an art museum in the mansion. The estate is also one of the finest examples of the Country Place Era, a period of American landscape architecture design reflecting the commissioning of extensive gardens intended to emulate those found among the grand manor estates in Europe. The site is less than nine miles southwest of downtown Nashville.

A Shrunken Head in Memphis

By Linda Tancs

One of the most enduring landmarks in Memphis, Tennessee, the Pink Palace Museum hosts an eclectic mix of artifacts bearing historical, educational and technological significance. For instance, you’ll find a life-size replica of the first Piggly Wiggly store, the forerunner to today’s self-service grocery store. That was the brainchild of grocery clerk Clarence Saunders, who later conceived of the palatial estate now hosting the museum. But perhaps the most memorable exhibit for visitors is the shrunken head sitting in the middle of the rotunda. Once owned by local businessman Abe Scharff, it was later donated to the museum and is believed to be a relic from his visits to South American tribal regions in modern-day Ecuador and Peru where head shrinking was a common practice. No one is quite sure whether the item is real, but you can read up on the process that headhunters used to get a shrunken head while you’re deciding for yourself.

Across the Cumberland Plateau

By Linda Tancs

Regarded as Tennessee’s largest and most visited state park, Fall Creek Falls State Park features 26,000 acres of woodlands, gorges, waterfalls and streams across the eastern portion of the Cumberland Plateau. As the name implies, falls are a signature feature of the park. Fall Creek Falls, at 256 feet, is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States. Other waterfalls within the park include Piney Falls, Cane Creek Falls and Cane Creek Cascades. More than 34 miles of trails can be explored, including two long distance overnight trails. The park is located 11 miles east of Spencer and 18 miles west of Pikeville and can be entered from Highway 111 or Highway 30.

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