John Rice Irwin was born on December 11, 1930 in Union County, Tennessee. His ancestors were pioneers of the area and he was devoted to preserving the history of his people’s struggle in the Appalachia. He started collecting heirlooms, while connecting each item to the person who owned it and telling their story. In 1968, Irwin founded the Museum of Appalachia to house and display his growing collection. By 1980, the museum had grown so large that Irwin left his job in education to devote all of his time to the museum.
Although the museum started as only a small log building, today it has grown to a village-farm complex, comprehending more than 35 original mountain structures, two large display buildings containing thousands of Appalachian artifacts, farm animals, and several gardens. In May 2007, the museum became an affiliate with the Smithsonian Institution. John Rice Irwin retired from the museum in 2009.
One of the buildings was devoted to the the people who lived in The Appalachia area, both well known to us, and well known in the area only: Bill Monroe, the Carter Family (who ultimately produced June Carter), Uncle Dave Macon, Homer Harris, Cordell Hull (US Secretary of State), Jim Smith, Sgt. Alvin C. York, Cass Walker, Chet Akins, Redd Stewart (author of The Tennessee Waltz), Archie (Grandpappy) Campbell, etc. Each section told the story of that person.
The onslaught of history here is overwhelming as there are over a quarter million items. However, the museum is not about the artifacts, but about the men and women who created them.
Barbara talks to the peacocks.
There was no explanation for this, it was just laying on the ground. Could the peacocks have done it?
We have reached a fork in our travels. Kodak, Tennessee, is just East of Knoxville. We are staying on a farm, converted to an RV park, that is basically used in the summer for a bluegrass festival.
It has 170 sites, but today it is empty, being off season.
Our original plan was to go South from here to the Carolinas for warmer weather, taking route 40 to 95 where we will turn North for home. However there are over 40 wildfires in the area. When we arrived here you could smell the smoke, and see it approaching the farm. We are 35 miles from the nearest fire. Going South will take us through the heaviest part of the fire, so our alternative is to go diagonally North by route 81 to 70. We will have to see which way the wind blows.
Crossville, TN to Kodax, TN 95 miles
2 hours 3 minutes
Crossville developed at the intersection of a branch of the Great Stage Road, which connected the Knoxville area with the Nashville area, and the Kentucky Stock Road, a cattle drovers’ path connecting Middle Tennessee with Kentucky. These two roads are roughly paralleled by modern US-70 and US-127.
Around 1800, an early American settler named Samuel Lambeth opened a store at this junction, and the small community that developed around it became known as Lambeth’s Crossroads. By the 1830’s this community became known as Crossville.
Even before the depression, this community, mostly farms and mining interests, came upon hard times. The federal government’s Subsistence Homestead Division, part of Franklin Delanor Roosevelt’s New Deal, initiated in 1934 a housing project known as the Cumberland Homesteads. The project’s purpose was to provide small farms for several hundred impoverished families. It was similar to the CCC. The Government purchased 10,000 acres from the Missouri Mining Company. They then “sold” the land to the selected families. More than 400 men were employed to clear the land and build roads to support the community. They would also build a house and barn on their alloted plot. They were paid $1.50 an hour. 50 cents was given to them, and the remaining dollar was a credited toward them purchasing the land. The sites ranged from 8 to 20 acres each.
We visited the first of these projects in Arthurdale, West Virginia. The theory behind that project, conceived of and championed by Eleanor Roosevelt, was to invite industry to the area, have families built homes, and work in these industries. Unfortunately the project failed because the companies that came in could not make a profit.
Here, the government considered this a failed project, but the 251 families who got homes, did not. They were taught a trade, which when the government abandoned them they could take to private industry and make a living. The project was abandoned in 1947, but the homesteaders were allowed to redeem their houses and land. Some of their decedents are still here.
The water tower and government offices that supported this community is now a museum preserving the history of the area.
It contained a display of each of the 251 families, and their descendants, some of whom still live on the land in these houses.
Goodlettsville, TN to Crossville, TN 131.0 miles
2 hours and 30 minutes
Today we toured all of Nashville, the Capital of Tennessee. Starting with the Capital Building.
Went to the Nashville Parthenon which is the world’s only full scale replica of the one in ancient Greece. The ancient Parthenon, built in 438 BCE (Before the Common Error) was a temple to the goddess Athena, protector and patron goddess of Athens.
Nashville’s Parthenon was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial celebration. At that time Nashville’s nickname was “The Athens of the South”. The first floor was an art exhibit, the second had the goddess Athena.
If you remember your mythology, Athena sprang as the fully grown warrior from the head of her father, Zeus.
In her right hand is Nike, the shoe guy. Actually, Nike is a girl, the Goddess of Victory.
Na Nana Na Na!
Barbara says no, but I think she has a toe fungus.
Saw the “circle of butts”, I guess it’s art.
We next went to the shop of the TV show “American Pickers”. It looked like junk to me.
What was interesting, is that the shop is located in the old Marathon Automobile factory.
The factory building takes up the whole block, plus half a block across the street. It now houses other antique shops, which seemed to have less junk than the Pickers.
As you walk through the Marathon building you can observe the various machines used to build the cars.
The Marathon Motor Works manufactured automobiles from 1907 to 1914. The car was developed by William Collier, an eccentric inventor who lived in Jackson, Tennessee. From 1907 to 1910 he produced about 400 cars. But in 1910 a group of Nashville financiers led by Maxwell House Hotel owner Augustus Robinson bought out the company and brought it to Nashville. They were the only company to completely manufacture the automobile in the South.
On the top floor of the building are 5 of the only 8 Marathon automobiles left.
As a result of over expansion and short supplies as a result of the World War, the company declared bankruptcy in 1914.
Went to the top of Tootsies for a nice view of Broadway.
The party goes on all day long.
My favorite was B.B. Kings, where we went to dinner for their “lip smacking” ribs.
Samuel Porter Jones, born October 16, 1847 in Oak Bowery, Alabama, was an American lawyer and businessman. Although he was known as a brilliant lawyer, he was also an alcoholic. One day he found the light, quit drinking and became ordained as a Methodist preacher, like his grandfather, great-grandfather and four of his uncles. Subsequently he became a prominent Methodist revivalist preacher across the Southern United States. In his sermons, he preached that alcohol and idleness were sinful.
Thomas Green Ryman was born October 12, 1841 in Nashville, Tennessee. He learned the trade of his father, a fisherman. After the Civil War he prospered in Nashville with a fleet of riverboats and saloons. He was a wealthy and respected leader in Nashville. He had heard of Samuel Jones and went with some of his friends in 1885 to the tent revival with intent to heckle Jones. Instead Ryman was so impressed with Jones that he was converted on the spot. Soon after, he pledged to build a tabernacle so the people of Nashville could attend the large-scale revival indoors. Construction of the Union Gospel Tabernacle began in 1889 and opened in 1892. Though the building was designed to be a house of worship, a purpose it continued to serve throughout most of its early existence, it was often leased to promoters for non-religious events in an effort to pay off its debts and remain open.
Upon his death on December 23, 1904, the Union Gospel Tabernacle was renamed The Ryman Auditorium.
We toured The Ryman. The venue is very popular because of the church’s acoustics.
The church has 250 pews, which seats 2362.
These are the original oak pews from 1892. Not that comfortable to sit on for a 2 hour show.
Straight No Chaser is an a cappella group that our granddaughter turn us on to a couple of years ago. Our seats at The Ryman were much better than last time.