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Archive for tennessee

History, Horses and Hospitality

By Linda Tancs

Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, Tennessee, is the land of history, horses and hospitality. Historically, native tribes used the woodlands and meadows as a place to hunt wild game, carving a trail over time that was eventually known as the old Natchez road by European settlers. John Harding, a skilled farmer and businessman, purchased some of those hunting grounds in 1806 for farming and thoroughbred breeding, calling the property Belle Meade (beautiful meadow). Harding expanded the family home in 1853, introducing the Greek Revival style mansion seen today. In its heyday, the old Southern plantation was a popular destination for luminaries like President and Mrs. Grover Cleveland, Robert Todd Lincoln, General U.S. Grant, General William T. Sherman and Adlai E. Stevenson. Belle Meade Plantation is open daily, with mansion tours starting every 30 to 45 minutes.


An Iconic Trail’s Highest Peak

By Linda Tancs

The Appalachian Trail stretches from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, following the Appalachian mountain range through 14 states. The trail’s highest peak is Clingmans Dome in Tennessee (at 6,643 feet above sea level) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The observation tower on the summit offers spectacular panoramic views of the Smokies and beyond for visitors willing to climb the steep, half-mile walk. Better be quick about it, though. Although the tower is open year round, the road leading to it is closed from December 1 through March 31.

Tennessee Pink

By Linda Tancs

Built in 1797, Ramsey House is the first stone home in Knox County, Tennessee. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was built by Knoxville’s first builder, Thomas Hope, for Francis Alexander Ramsey. Constructed of Tennessee pink marble and blue limestone, it’s notable for its original interior and exterior architectural features and its period decorative art collection. Ramsey House also boasts the first attached kitchen in Tennessee, replacing the typical “dog-trot” style of the South where the kitchen was typically stand-alone with a breezeway between it and the house. The pet-friendly grounds are welcoming to picnickers!

Total Eclipse in the Park

By Linda Tancs

A total eclipse of the sun will sweep across the United States for three hours today beginning around noon. This is the first total solar eclipse to affect the continental U.S. since 1979, and 20 of Tennessee’s state parks fall in the “path of totality.” One of those is Frozen Head State Park, where you’ll get 34 seconds to view this singular event. Named for a 3,324-foot peak in the Cumberland Mountains (the top of which is often shrouded in ice or snow in the winter months), the park provides 50 miles of backpacking and day-hiking trails with extensive wildlife viewing opportunities. The state park system is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.

Place of a Thousand Drips

By Linda Tancs

Named for a roaring mountain stream, Roaring Fork is one of the larger and faster flowing mountain streams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, its namesake motor nature trail is a scenic loop over five miles long, offering rushing mountain streams, a scenic overlook with glimpses of old-growth forest, a number of well-preserved log cabins, grist mills and other historic buildings and, at this time of year, spectacular fall foliage. Two of the most popular waterfalls in the Smokies are located here: Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls. Their smaller cousin is no less popular, though. Known as Place of a Thousand Drips, it is, as the name implies, a low-flow fall driven by wet weather. Located at the end of the trail, you can observe its streams (weather permitting) cascading through dozens of crevices and tiny pathways.

Old Hickory’s Homestead

By Linda Tancs

U.S. President Andrew Jackson (you know, the one on the 20 dollar bill) gained the nickname Old Hickory as a result of his toughness on the battlefield during the War of 1812, a battle that ultimately won him the White House.  Following the presidency, he retired to his much loved estate in Tennessee, The Hermitage.  The main house, considered one of the best preserved early presidential homes, is a Greek Revival brick mansion, chock-full of original furnishings, including very scenic and stunning wallpaper depicting the tale of Homer’s Odyssey.  The pastoral surroundings are punctuated with a small herd of Belted Galloways (sometimes referred to as the Oreo-cookie cow due to its appearance).  In the southeast corner of the garden you’ll find the tomb of the president and his beloved wife, Rachel.  Visited by millions annually, the property is located just miles outside downtown Nashville.

The Birthplace of Country Music

By Linda Tancs

Imagine being able to step into the shoes of some of the first families of country music and record your own rendition of the songs that launched their careers.  You can do that at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.  Located at the junction between Bristol, Tennessee, and Bristol, Virginia, it’s officially recognized by Congress as the birthplace of country music.  The museum’s mission is to preserve and promote the 1927 recording sessions of legends like Jimmie Rogers and the Carter family, an event that Johnny Cash hailed as a seminal event in country music history.  Even the Library of Congress has ranked the “Bristol Sessions” as one of the 50 most significant events in the history of recorded music.   A special exhibition honoring the Carters runs through 28 February.

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