Tennessee Valley Railroad

Day 1343

     Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga choo choo? I am sorry, but this song is racist, it will have to be removed.

     Chattanooga welcomed its first rail line with the arrival of the Western and Atlantic Railroad in 1850. A few years later, in 1858, the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad also arrived in Chattanooga. The city quickly became a railroad hub with industries springing up in the area to take advantage of the new transportation corridors.

     The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, was founded by a small group of local residents in 1961 who were intent on trying to save some American history by preserving, restoring, and operating authentic railway equipment from the “Golden Age of Railroading.”

     The museum operates 3 miles of tracks near the original East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad right of way.

     We rode locomotive 4501 which ran for Southern Railway throughout East Tennessee during its career. It is a 2-8-2 Mikado-type steam locomotive built in 1911 by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia.

     The name “Mikado,” a Japanese word meaning “emperor,” came about because the first engine of this type was sold to the Japanese state railways. “2-8-2” refers to the wheel arrangement: two small pilot wheels in front, eight large drive wheels, and two small trailing wheels in the back to help support a large firebox.

     We rode this train from Grand Junction

to East Chattanooga and back.

     Since there is only 1 track between the two stations, when we got to East Chattanooga the engine and coal car are disconnected from the passenger cars and placed on a turntable which rotate it around so it can go on a parallel tract to take it to the other end of the passenger cars for the return trip.





      The last car of the train, in which we were riding to East Chattanooga, now becomes the first car on our return trip. 

Uh-Oh, this fell off, do you think it will effect anything?

     Barbara still goes for those guys in uniform. 

Ocoee Winery, Tennessee

Day 1342

     A long time desire of Steve Hunt to have a winery was realized in March 2006 when he opened “The Ocoee Winery” in Cleveland, Tennessee.

     We spoke with Steve Hunt who told us he does not grow his own grapes, but  purchases locally-grown grapes to make his wine.The wine is made on the premises and sold only in the winery. 

     We went there with friends to taste the wine of this local winery.

     Steve gave us a tour of his bottling plant including a demonstration of this label maker.

     He explained to us how this machine corks his bottles while holding up a finger to show us a missing digit when he did not heed the warning not to put your hand in the corker.

     I bet the person who bought that bottle of wine was surprised. 

Cleveland, Not Ohio, Tennessee

Day 1338

     Cleveland is located in southeast Tennessee roughly 15 miles west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Established in 1838, the first Europeans to reach the area now occupied by Cleveland were most likely an expedition led by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto on the night of June 2, 1540 (it appears he was not here during the day).

     Andrew Taylor, born November 2, 1760 in Augusta County, Virginia, came to what is now Cleveland as one of the first settlers. His settlement, known as “Taylor’s Place”, became a favorite stopping place for travelers due largely to the site’s excellent water sources. By legislative act on January 20, 1838, Taylor’s Place was established as the County seat of Bradley County to be named “Cleveland” after Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, a commander at the Battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolution. 

     Walking through Cleveland we saw some unique houses, such as Casper the Ghost’s house.  I’ll spare you their history, as I can see your eyes are glazing over.

     For over 100 years politicians have given speeches from a bandstand sitting on this spot in front of the Courthouse. Ok Barbara, I will do whatever you say.

     John H. Craigmiles was born in 1823, Cynthia County, Kentucky. He was a prominent businessman who made his fortune selling goods to the Confederate army during the war. On October 18, 1871 his 7 year old daughter, Nina, was riding with her grandfather, Dr. Gideon Thompson, when the buggy in which they were traveling was struck by a train. Dr. Thompson was thrown clear, but Nina died instantly. 

     St. Luke’s Episcopal Church was built by the Craigmiles Family in memory of their daughter, Nina. The Craigmiles were a very prominent family in Cleveland and therefore no expense was spared in the building of the church.

     Saint Luke’s was completed on October 18, 1874 the third anniversary of Nina’s death.

     Cleveland, Tennessee was a divided community at the start of the Civil War, with a majority favoring the North. The Confederates occupied the city to control the railroads from June 1861 until November 25, 1863 when Union forces took the city and held it to the end of the war.

     I took a picture of this Confederate Monument erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1911 before they tear it down, which seems to be the trend now-a-days.

     I also took this picture of Lee University before they change the name to Floyd University. Actually the university was not named for Robert E. but for Flavius J. Lee. Don’t you love parents who would name their child Flavius. “Oh Flavius, time for dinner.”

     Lee College, now Lee University, was founded by the Church of God as a Bible Training School on January 1, 1918. Named for Flavius J. Lee, second president of the college and church leader. 


     Is that Captain Morgan, no, it is Colonel Benjamin Cleveland.

    Colonel Benjamin Cleveland was born in Orange County, Virginia, on May 28, 1738. He was an American pioneer and officer in the North Carolina militia where he fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain (see Day 251). Cleveland Tennessee is named in his honor, but not Cleveland Ohio, which was named after another Cleveland.

     Got to go before the tornado touches down.

McDonald, Tennessee

Day 1337

     McDonald Tennessee is a small community outside Cleveland, Tennessee. Nobody seems to know anything about McDonald. It is thought it was established in 1850, but no one knows why, or for whom it is named. Isn’t that pathetic?

     Some of the places we visit suggest wearing a mask:








     They were not amused.


Technical Stuff:

Cave City, Kentucky to McDonald, Tennessee: 247.4 miles

5 hours 8 minutes

10.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.10

Llama Farm, Green County, Tennessee

Day 999

     Today our campsite is a llama farm in Green County, Tennessee (aren’t they the animals with a head at each end?)  

     The farm is about 3 miles from where Davy Crockett was born. He was not born on a mountaintop.

     Jerry & Carolyn, the owners, have raised llamas for over 20 years.  They purchased a dilapidated 50 year-old mobile home park next to their farm and “re-purposed” it into a quaint little 31-site campground.

     The campground is part of a 22-acre llama farm which is home to over 40 llamas and various other livestock including miniature donkeys and goats.

     Jerry was a high school principal for over 18 years and retired June 2017 to open the campground in October 2017.  Carolyn is a local artist and continues to be a high school art teacher. Carolyn periodically teaches spinning class using wool of the llamas.

Technical Stuff: Nashville, TN to Llama Farm, Green County, TN: 259.7 miles

5 hours 13 minutes

10.7 MPG

Diesel: $2.86

The Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, November 30, 1864

Day 998

     Theodrick Carter, Tod to his friends, was born March 24, 1840 in this house built by his father in 1830, Fountain Carter, located in Franklin, Tennessee.

     The name “Theodrick” had been in the Carter family since 1676. He was an exceptionally bright child who had an ear for music and was well versed in Greek, Latin, history, poetry and the Classics, skills that allowed him to study the law at a very young age.

     By the beginning of the Civil War, he had garnered a reputation as a “brilliant young lawyer,” his practice was located on Third Avenue South, not far from his home.

     When the Civil War broke out, Tod, like his brothers, enlisted in the Army of The Confederate States of America. On May 1, 1862, Tod Carter was promoted to the rank of captain and appointed assistant quartermaster. He began writing as a correspondent for the newly created Chattanooga Daily Rebel, under the byline “Mint Julep.” After surviving numerous battles Capt. Carter was captured during the Battle of Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863, just east of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

     Capt. Carter was transported as a prisoner of war, first to Louisville, Kentucky, then on to Johnson’s Island, a Confederate officer’s prison camp near Sandusky, Ohio. (We were there, see Day 90.) In February, he was being transported to Baltimore, Maryland when he managed to jump from the transport train and escape. He was immediately pursued, but through his cunning he eventually made his way through enemy territory back to Tennessee and his Confederate company, which he rejoined. 

     On November 30, 1864, the Union forces under Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield were retreating to Nashville to join up with other Union forces in Sherman’s “March to the Sea”. The Confederate Army of Tennessee, of which Tod Carter was quartermaster, was deployed to stop them. 

     Gen. Cox, of the Union Army, believing that the Carter family farm, Tod’s birthplace, and the hill on which the house was located, “was the key to a strong defense,” took command of Fountain Carter’s home at 4:30 a.m. on the morning of the battle. The Battle of Franklin was a 5 hour battle that started that evening at 4 p.m. The Union Army of 27,000 men verses the Confederate Army of 27,000 men.

     Although Capt. Carter’s duties as assistant quartermaster exempted him from engaging in battle, he vowed, “No power on earth could keep him out of the fight.” So it would be. At 5 p.m., he mounted his horse, drew his sword, extended his arm and led the charge shouting, “I am almost home! Come with me boys!” Just 525 feet from his home, a volley of nine bullets felled the young captain, mortally wounded, but not dead, he laid on the battle field, along with 10,000 other soldiers, until found by his family just after midnight. 

     Capt. Carter was carried to his boyhood home and taken inside. Two days later, on December 2, 1864, 24-year old Capt. Tod Carter, the “brilliant young lawyer” died in the room just across from the one where he was born.

     54,000 soldiers firing on the battlefield that surrounded Carter’s home left much evidence in the form of bullet holes in all the buildings. 

     This building, which at the time served as the farm office, was not occupied at the time of the battle.

     The bullet holes are most evident from inside the building. 

Strolling Nashville, Tennessee

Day 996

The tallest building in Nashville today is the Batman Building.

The party goes on day and night.

Here, Barbara is trying to get a group to sing:

I don’t thing they will make it to the Circle.

Stopped in Ernest Tubb’s record shop, yes they still were selling records, when I was surprised to see a tribute to Spec.4 James T. Davis.

Davis was in the same type of unit I was in the Army, Army Security Agency, and was the first soldier killed in the Vietnam War on December 22, 1961.

One of the great things about Nashville, you can walk into any bar

or restaurant

and see live music, with no cover charge.

Barbara said I should get a close up

I don’t think that is what she had in mind

The House that Jack Built, Lynchburg, Tennessee

Day 995

     Jasper Newton Daniel was born September 5, 1847 in Lynchburg, Tennessee, a small town founded in 1801.

     At the age of nine (oh, they grow up so fast) he left home to strike out on his own. He ended up at the home of Dan Call, a preacher at a nearby Lutheran church and the owner of a general store. There, Reverend Call also happened to sell whiskey that he distilled himself. Jasper showed an interest in learning to distill whiskey and was paired up with a slave, Nathan Green, who was a master distiller. Nathan was born into slavery and emancipated after the Civil War. He continued with Reverend Call as a freeman. 

     Jasper learned his craft well. A short distance from the Call property was a spring in a cave, where the water temperature was a constant 56 degrees. Perfect water for whisky. The property was purchased and Jack began his distillery.

     We toured the distillery. Barbara took the wet tour and I the dry.

     Jack Daniel’s is a Tennessee Whiskey as opposed to a Bourbon because the whiskey goes through a charcoal mellowing process while it is still moonshine. Then it heads to the barrel to age, just like Bourbon.

    I didn’t have to taste the whiskey, as between smelling the fermentation and the charcoal mellowing, I was high.

     This safe killed Jack Daniels.

     One morning in 1906, Jack arrived at his office before anybody else. He tried to access the company safe, but had a terrible time remembering the code. After a few frustrating minutes, he kicked the safe as hard as he could. He badly bruised his left foot and immediately began to walk with a limp. The limp only grew worse with time, and he later discovered the injury had led to blood poisoning. Then came gangrene, then amputation, and then death.

     Let’s not forget, we are in the South.

The New, Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee

Day 994

     When we were previously in Nashville, Tennessee, we attended the Grand Ole Opry at The Ryman Theater. Today we attended the Grand Ole Opry at it’s current location, The Grand Ole Opry House, about 12 miles from Nashville center. The new facility saw it’s first show on Saturday, March 16, 1974, and was built to accommodate a larger audience, from 2,000 seats at the Ryman to 4,000 seats here. 

     The show is hosted by Eddie Stubbs, born November 25, 1961 in Gaithersburg, Maryland. For 24 years Stubbs has been the announcer for WSM radio and The Grand Ole Opry.

     Today’s performers included Raiders in the Sky

     Jeannie Seely

     and Ricky Skaggs

     Prior to the show, we toured the backstage of the Grand Ole Opry House. We saw the dressing rooms of the stars of the Opry.

     Just the other day Dolly Parton sat here:

     Got that picture in your head?

     To carry on the tradition of the show’s run at the Ryman, a six-foot circle of oak was cut from the corner of the Ryman’s stage and inlaid into center stage at the new venue. Artists on stage stand on the circle as they performed.

     It is the dream of all the hopefuls in Nashville to “make it to the circle”.

Nashville, Tennessee, Again

Day 990

     It has been a year since our trip to Alaska and the Arctic Circle. This year, part of our group are touring the Canadian Maritimes. The rest, since we are from all over the country, decided to meet for a reunion in a central place, and we chose Nashville, Tennessee. We did a lot when we were here before, see days 217, 218, 219220, 221222, and Day 223.

     One of the great things about Nashville, there are entertainers, mostly singers, everywhere. Even the campground we are staying has nightly free entertainment. After we set up the Sphinx, we walked to the outside pavilion and watch “Pork” sing. This guy could really handle a guitar. 

Technical Stuff: Calera, Alabama to Nashville, TN: 232.1 miles

4 hours 38 minutes

9.7 MPG

Diesel: $2.70

Ardmore, Tennessee

Day 598

     Ardmore, Tennessee is a small city, just over 1,000 people, that sits on the boarder of Alabama and Tennessee, next to the city of the same name, Ardmore, Alabama. In fact, as we found out when we went to dinner, one end of Main Street is in Ardmore, Tennessee and the other, about 3/4 of a mile away, in Ardmore Alabama. 

       Ardmore began in 1911 as a railroad stop named “Austin” after a store owner, Alex Austin, who served construction crews working on the nearby railroad line that would connect Nashville, Tennessee, and Decatur, Alabama. When the railroad opened a depot in 1914, it changed the town’s name to “Ardmore.” 

     It appears that the railroad liked that name as it named these cities when it established a railroad depot there: Ardmore, Alabama; Ardmore, Indiana; Ardmore, Missouri; Ardmore, Oklahoma; Ardmore, Pennsylvania; and Ardmore, South Dakota. There is even an Ardmore, Maryland.

     We stopped here because there is a repair facility where we are having some damage to the Sphinx fixed. We are actually hooked up to electric on the repair facility parking lot, where we will be spending the next five days. It is great being able to take your house with you.  

Technical Stuff:

Pelham, Alabama to Ardmore, Tennessee: 128.3 miles

2 hours 35 minutes

9.8 MPG

Diesel: $2.70

Knoxville, Tennessee

Day 234

     The rains came, heavy rains, with lighting, thunder and tornados. The lightning caused 8 new fires, but the rains put out most of the 40 fires already burning. Eight tornados hit the area, but not us. Actually, we slept through it. 

     With the rains ending, we still could not leave the area, so we will spend another night here on the farm. With the weather clearing, we went to Knoxville, Tennessee.

     The first white men setting foot in this area was in 1540 by an expedition led by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto.

     Evidently, Tennessee is divided into 3 regions: West Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and East Tennessee. No mention was made of this when were in West and Middle Tennessee.

     East Tennessee is the region between the Cumberland Mountains and the Smokey Mountains. Because of this geographic separation, they consider themselves separate from the rest of the State. We went to the East Tennessee Museum where we learned this area was originally part of North Carolina. 

     In 1784, North Carolina gave up this area to the Federal Government, but quickly repealed that act. The inhabitants of the area, led my Brigadier General John Sevier (who was the commander of the militia and Over Mountain Men that beat the British at the Battle of King’s Mountain), resentful of being governed by a body so far away, took advantage of this lapse to form the State of Franklin with Sevier as it’s Governor. They governed themselves in this capacity for 4 years, when political fighting in Washington terminated the State, which had applied for Statehood, and set up a separate territory called “Territory South of the River Ohio”.

     When Tennessee became a State in 1796, John Sevier was the first governor and Knoxville the capital. The state was named for the Cherokee town of Tanasi. 

     The museum had some interesting artifacts, for example, a carpet bag from the reconstruction era, day-234-knoxville-tn-9022_fotor

     and Davy Crockett’s rifle, Betsy,


     Actually, Davy Crockett had 4 rifles, all named Betsy. This one was his first, which he bought when he was 17. He had it only 3 years when he traded it for a horse to court a girl. It turns out Davy was not too successful in love, he should have kept the rifle. 

     Not to far from here is the town of Dayton. You might recognize this town from the movie “Inherit the Wind” about the Scopes “Monkey Trial”. Did you know the trial was a publicity stunt by the town of Dayton? The ACLU was looking for a test case to challenge Tennessee’s new law banning the teaching of evolution in public schools. Dayton volunteered to have the trial and chose John Scopes to be the defendant. John was a physical education teacher that sometimes substituted as a science teacher. Top orators Clarance Darrow, for the defense, and William Jennings Bryan, for the prosecution, agreed to argue the case. Clarance Darrow actually ask the Jury to convict his client, as the ACLU wanted to appeal the case to the Tennessee Supreme Court to draw attention to the issue. Scopes was found guilty and the penalty was a $100 fine. This fine was paid by H.L. Mencken who was covering the story for the Baltimore Sun. The verdict was reversed, but the case was terminated, the point of the trial having been made, and Dayton now a tourist attraction. 

     What do the code names K-25, S-50, Y-12, and X-10 signify? Those were the names of the secret buildings in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the Manhattan project enriched uranium to fuel the atomic bomb. 

     Knoxville was the host to the World’s Fair in 1982. We visited the Sunsphere viewing tower.


     We then had dinner at the Sunsphere restaurant. 



Museum of Appalachia, Tennessee

Day 232


     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. 

day-232-museum-of-appalachia-tn-8971_fotor day-232-museum-of-appalachia-tn-8991_fotor day-232-museum-of-appalachia-tn-8993_fotor

     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?




Kodax, Tennessee

Day 231


     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. 

Technical Stuff:

Crossville, TN to Kodax, TN 95 miles

2 hours 3 minutes

11.3 MPG

Diesel: $2.25


Crossville, Tennessee

Day 224


     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.


Technical Stuff:

Goodlettsville, TN to Crossville, TN 131.0 miles

2 hours and 30 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.20

The Nashville Scene, Tennessee

Day 223


     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.

 day-223-nashville-scene-tn-8792_fotor day-223-nashville-scene-tn-8790_fotor day-223-nashville-scene-tn-8788_fotor day-223-nashville-scene-tn-8785_fotor

     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.


day-223-nashville-scene-tn-8805_fotor day-223-nashville-scene-tn-8851_fotor 

     My favorite was B.B. Kings, where we went to dinner for their “lip smacking” ribs.


The Ryman, Nashville, Tennessee

Day 222


HOW DEE      

     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. 


Nashville, Tennessee

Day 220

     The Overmountain Men were American frontiersmen from west of the Appalachian Mountains who took part in the American Revolutionary War. While they were present at multiple engagements in the war’s southern campaign, they are best known for their role in the American victory at the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780. The term “overmountain” refers to the fact that their settlements were west of, or “over”, the Appalachians — the range being the primary geographical boundary dividing the 13 American colonies from the western frontier. The Overmountain Men hailed from parts of Virginia, North Carolina, and what is now Tennessee and Kentucky.

     The town of Nashville was founded by James Robertson, John Donelson, and a party of Overmountain Men in 1779, near the original Cumberland settlement of Fort Nashborough. It was named for Francis Nash, the American Revolutionary War hero. Nashville quickly grew as a port because of its strategic location on the Cumberland River, a tributary of the Ohio River. Today it is the capital of the state of Tennessee. Tennessee became a State June 1, 1796.

     Because of the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville has become the destination for those aspiring to make their name in music, especially Country.

     Every bar, every restaurant, every street corner was filled with musicians seeking attention.

   Here Barbara is watching a magician


 Moving bars are traveling down the street (we have seen this in other cities)


     Tidbit of Information: Tennessee is known as the “Volunteer State”, a nickname earned during the War of 1812 because of the prominent role played by volunteer soldiers from Tennessee, especially during the Battle of New Orleans.


Hermitage, Tennessee

Day 219


     Andrew Jackson was born on March 15, 1767 in the Waxhaws, an area on the boarder of North and South Carolina. By age 20 he had his license to practice law in North Carolina.

     In 1788 he marries Rachel Donelson Robarts. He remarries her in 1794. She had been married before to an abusive husband. She had left him, then met Jackson. In 1788 she had gotten word her husband divorced her, but in fact had only filed the papers. When the divorce finally went through, they remarried to make it lawful.

     In 1804 he buys a 420 acre plantation and names it Hermitage

     On June 18, 1812 President Madison declares war on Great Britain. Andrew Jackson had been active in Tennessee politics and had held numerous  positions. Without formal military training he was appointed a position in the Army. Ultimately he was assigned to go to New Orleans to repel the anticipated invasion of the British. If the British were successful, they could sail up the Mississippi and divide the Country in half, which would invariably change the outcome of the war. There was not much hope that Jackson could stop the British with only 5359 local militia against the British well trained 8392 seasoned troops.

     The battle began on January 8, 1815. Jackson won a decisive victory, losing only 13 killed and 39 wounded to the British’s 300 killed and 1500 wounded. (Do you think those figures were inflated like Vietnam?)

     Although it took almost a month for the news to reach Washington, Jackson became an instant American Hero and made him the most famous general since George Washington.

     Based on his popularity Jackson ran for President. His first try for President resulted in Jackson getting the popular vote, but losing the electoral.  The campaigns were brutal. No subject was off limits. Jackson’s opponents used every dirty trick they could, including calling Jackson immoral for the marriage to Rachel. Reviewing what went on during these campaigns, you can’t help but notice the similarities to the recent Trump campaign. This includes one of his first acts as President was signing the Indian Removal Act, which he promised to do during his campaign. He is quoted as saying “…they and my white children are to near to each other to live in harmony and peace.” History repeats itself.

     Jackson believed that since the President is elected by all the people, he is the only member of  government representing all the people. Almost immediately there was friction between Jackson, Congress, and the Courts. During his two terms as President, he asserted powers that no President had before. With dissension among members of his cabinet, Jackson started looking outside for guidance, something no President had done before. The opposition press dubbed these advisors his “kitchen cabinet”.

     Andrew Jackson left Washington, after two terms as President, for home on March 7, 1837.


     Andrew and Rachel Jackson’s first home on the Hermitage was a substantial and well furnished 2 story log cabin. They lived there from 1804 until 1821. As a result of Jackson’s fame from the 1815 battle, the home no longer reflected his status as a hero, or the fashion of the time. He build a federal style brick home, which he enlarged over time during his Presidency

The tour of the Hermitage was both guided and self guided.


     Cotton was the cash crop of the Plantation. When Jackson returned here after his Presidency, he had 1000 acres and 150 slaves.

     One of the interesting things was that you could go to the cotton fields and pick cotton. Trying to get the seeds out of the cotton was almost impossible by hand. Thank you Eli Whitney.


Jackson died on June 8, 1845 at the Hermitage.

     Two interesting facts about Jackson: He is the only President to pay off the national debt and the first President to be a resident of a State other than Massachusetts or Virginia.



Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Tennessee

Day 218


     The Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a 5 floor collection of everything dealing with Country Music. I am not a fan of Country Music, but after spending 5 hours here, I have a new appreciation. 


The admission fee included a hand held electronic guided tour. 


I liked the guitar for a 4 arm person:


     We were there from 12 noon till 5:00 PM when they told us we had to leave. Still, we were not able to see everything.


Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee

Day 217


     The Grand Ole Opry started as the WSM radio show Barn Dance on the fifth-floor radio studio of the National Life & Accident Insurance Company in downtown Nashville on November 28, 1925. The studio was created to advertise and promote their insurance. The stations’ call letters are derived from the company’s motto, “We Shield Millions“. The Opry, founded by George D. Hay, was dedicated to honoring hillbilly music and its history. The Opry showcases a mix of singers performing country, bluegrass, folk, gospel, and comedic performances and skits.Though not originally a stage show, the Opry began to attract listeners from around the area who would come to the WSM studio to see it live. Because of its popularity and lack of space in the radio studio, the Opry moved to a permanent home, the Ryman Auditorium, on June 5, 1943, and broadcasted there every week for nearly 31 years thereafter.

Upon our arrival we purchased tickets to the Grand Ole Opry.

Our seats were not that great. 


As, from the beginning, there were various singers: 


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      While we were here we purchased tickets for Straight No Chasers later this week also at The Ryman.

Technical Stuff:

West Memphis, AR to Goodlettsville, TN    237.7 miles

4 hours 29 minutes

12.1 MPG

Diesel: $ 2.19

Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee

Day 216


     Beale Street was created in 1841 by entrepreneur and developer Robertson Topp, who named it for some military hero. In the 1860s, many black traveling musicians began performing on Beale. It was soon, and today is, a Mecca of aspiring blues players. Strolling down the street, you can hear music emanating from the various restaurants and bars. 

     The shops on Beale street sprang up in the 1890 – 1900 with waves of immigrants, Italians, Jews, Greeks, and Chinese coming here to seek their fortunes. By 1910, they were catering mostly to a black clientele. 


     We stopped at Silky O’Sullivan’s for lunch. Two musicians were playing at the restaurant. On the patio were the bar’s goats,


and cement walk with hand prints and signatures of various personalties. 

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     Not far off the street was the Memphis Rock N Soul museum, which covered the early years of blues in Memphis, from gospel to blues morphing into Rock & Roll and hillbilly music (now called country music).

     Here I am with my homeboys:


     WIDA radio station was a white owned station that catered to the black community of Memphis. Its black announcer, Nat D. Williams, was a history teacher at the high school. He hosted and announced amateur nights on Beale Street.

     Tidbit of information: In 1952, Sam Phillips, started a hotel he called Holiday Inn in Memphis.  

Here, this Buds for you:


Cotton Exchange, Memphis, Tennessee

Day 215


     When I think of cotton fields, I think of “Gone With The Wind” and darkies in the field.

     Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793. (“gin” stands for engine and not a still.) That made separating the seeds from the cotton easier, the cotton still had to be picked by hand.

     Although Samuel S. Rembert and Jedediah Prescott received the first patent for a cotton harvester in 1850, it was not until 1936 that the first commercial harvester was produced by John and Mack Rust. 

     Delta Airlines, named for the Delta of the Mississippi where it was founded, began as the world’s first crop dusting organization in 1924. 

     After the Civil War, Cotton was traded as a commodity. Because of its location on the Mississippi River, Memphis became a center point of cotton sales in the South. The Memphis Cotton Exchange was incorporated on April 20, 1874 to regulate cotton marketing in the city. The exchange had exclusive membership, limited to men only. 

     Cotton is graded into qualities based on the content of seeds and other stuff in the cotton. This is called classing. For example, a higher quality cotton would be used for bed sheets, with a lower quality for denim jeans. This is where the phrase “fair to middling” comes from. It had to be done in natural sunlight, therefore it was done on the top floor of the Exchange under north facing skylights. It could not be done on cloudy days.  

     The centerpiece of the exchange was a large blackboard placed high above the trading floor. Only members were allowed on the trading floor, and you had to be invited to be a member. 


    Everything changed with the advent of the computer, which made it possible to get prices and trade electronically. The exchange closed in 1974. 

     Tidbit of information: The Confederate currency was backed by cotton rather than gold. You can see the image of cotton on every note issued by the Southern States. 

     Do you recognize this symbol? day-215-cotton-exchange-tn-8461_fotor

     In the 1950’s and 60’s synthetic fibers were becoming more popular because of their ease of use and being wrinkle free. As a result, textile mills were buying less cotton. Cotton Inc. was formed in 1970 to promote the use of cotton and therefore their share of the market. In 1973 they introduced the “seal of cotton” so the consumer could easily identify cotton products. Evidently it worked. (Sort of “look for the union label”). You sang that in your head, didn’t you?