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From the days of exploration to the earliest days of statehood, African Americans have played a crucial role in the growth and development of the state. The Tennessee African American Guide traces the stories, struggles and contributions of the state's African American citizens in West, Middle and East Tennessee.
The zing of a fishing reel at Dale Hollow Lake. The roar of river rapids on the Hiwassee. The whir of mountain bike wheels at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Outdoor adventure in Tennessee is a symphony of sounds and a chorus of enjoyment. From the mountains of the East to the river valleys of the West, this state is a perfect outdoor playground.
Springtime showers turn the Little River in the Smokies into a racing roller coaster for kayakers. By summer, when the water has settled down, people plop inner tubes into the cool, soothing waterway.
Outdoor fun abounds in just about every mountain pocket and across the western plains. Springtime blossoms and brilliant autumn leaves reward hikers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where more than 800 miles of trail include a stretch of the historic Appalachian Trail. Many visitors prefer a car tour or shady picnic site at Cades Cove. Here, wildlife including bears and deer slip into view when least expected.
Tournament-quality bass fishing attracts anglers to Norris Lake, Dale Hollow Lake (near Byrdstown) and Paris' Kentucky Lake. You may hear whispers about secret fishing spots on Dandridge's Douglas Lake, Tims Ford Lake at Winchester and Watts Bar Lake near Spring City. Fly fishermen try their luck for trout on the Clinch River near Norris. Sailing regattas, water-skiing tournaments and club rowing events keep people on the water year 'round.
Rafting escapades range from adrenaline rushes down the Hiwassee to calmer outings on the Harpeth and Buffalo Rivers. Locally owned sports outfitters provide guides, maps and gear to ensure safe, enjoyable journeys. Fall foliage excursions carry sightseers in cruise boats to prime locales on the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers.
For pleasurable getaways, stay at any of the Tennessee State Parks' cabins, lodges and campsites. Five of the 54 state parks have resort inns with full-service restaurants and conference facilities. Golf courses at eight state parks complement other resort amenities, such as swimming pools, tennis courts and marinas. Horseback riders follow meandering trails at Cedars of Lebanon, Chickasaw (west of Henderson) and Warrior's Path in Kingsport.
Avid adventurers escape to the windswept bluffs of the Sequatchie Valley near Chattanooga for hang gliding. Rock climbers scramble on granite at the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and the Obed Wild and Scenic River Area in East Tennessee. Mountain bikers test the challenging trails at Norris Lake, Shelby Farms in Memphis and Montgomery Bell State Park near Nashville. Spelunkers explore the tamed passageways at Dunbar Cave in Clarksville, Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville, and a host of more natural, wild caves throughout the region.
Hunters will find the deer population resurgent with access to one million acres of public and private land. The 80,000-acre Catoosa Wildlife Management Area on the Cumberland Plateau is a premier hunting destination.
Self-reliance and enterprise distinguish the many Tennesseans who have played important roles in history. The Cherokee leader Sequoyah invented the first alphabet for an Indian language. Frontiersman Davy Crockett served as a militiaman and politician before fighting at the Alamo. Daniel Boone cut the Wilderness Road from Virginia into Cumberland Gap and opened new territories for settlers. Tennessee heritage overflows with memorable places and interesting characters. Take time on your trip to share their fascinating tales.
Tennessee has produced three U.S. presidents - James K. Polk, Andrew Johnson and Andrew Jackson. Other famous statesmen include Sam Houston, former governor of Tennessee and Texas, and Sgt. Alvin C. York, who emerged from World War I as the country's most heralded war hero. Surround yourself with this history at commemorative sites throughout the state.
Tennessee's distinguished military legacy includes Civil War battles of great distinction. The battle of Franklin was of the worst disasters of the war. Carter House and Carnton Plantation, residences located amongst blue and gray lines, are vestiges of an antebellum past. Tours at Carter House reveal one family's struggle and tragedy. Visitors to Carnton Plantation see bloodstains on wooden floors, evidence of the many wounded soldiers brought in for care. The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) makes its home at Fort Campbell, an installation shared by Tennessee and Kentucky. Clarksville serves the personnel and families stationed at this 105,000-acre military post. It soldiers, best known as the Screaming Eagles, have demonstrated valor in every military conflict since World War II.
In 1925, the Scopes Trial cast international attention on the small town of Dayton. Teacher John Scopes was sued by the state for teaching the theory of evolution. Two of the country's greatest lawyers, William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow, argued the case.
Nearly two hours away and two decades later, the nation's most brilliant scientific minds converged on Oak Ridge to develop the atomic bomb, the weapon that brought World War II to a close. These pioneers in nuclear science worked in secrecy, but nowadays the so-called "Secret City" welcomes visitors at the American Museum of Science and Energy, which offers an account of weapons development and day-to-day life behind security fences.
Need some ideas? Think about a traditional tractor pull at the local fairgrounds on a hot summer night, a pumpkin festival in brisk October, a visit to a Christmas tree farm for hot cider, a wagon ride and the perfect tree. Tour a winery and taste varieties you’ll find only in Tennessee Wine Country. Visit one of Tennessee’s traditional county fairs complete with farm animal, antique tractor and equipment shows--and of course Ferris Wheels for full moon nights. Enjoy Tennessee’s wild vistas on horseback trails or take home a taste of Tennessee with fruits and berries you’ve picked yourself. Come face to face with the growers at the state’s farmers markets—the folks who grow the same delicious varieties of sweet corn, tomatoes and beans you remember from your grandmother’s table. You can even tour a Tennessee processing plant and see how some of your favorite products are made.
What's it take to keep a pre-schooler happy? Action! Luckily Tennessee is bursting at the seams with kid-friendly fun.
At Northeast Tennessee's Johnson City's Hands On! Regional Museum they'll slide down a coal mine, fly a real airplane, shop at Kindermart, and become a TV weatherkid. East Tennessee let's you get lost with your grade-schooler in the mammoth corn mazes in Blount County and taste fresh dairy at Philadelphia's Sweetwater Valley Cheese Farm. Chattanooga in Southeast Tennessee offers 'tweens and teens the views of more than 9,000 animals, including otters, alligators and an 80-pound catfish at the Tennessee Aquarium, the world's largest freshwater life center.
When the "fine whine" from the backseat becomes overpowering, head for The Discovery Center at Murfree Springs in Upper Middle Tennessee. Scrambling on the fire engine, airplane and giant "climb in and around" tree or painting at Creation Station will nix the pre-schooler fits! Grade-schoolers love the nearby Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. After eye contact with Gibbons, Red Pandas, Meerkats, MacCaws and African elephants, they'll have the run of the country's largest community-built playground. For the 'tweens and teens: Nashville Shores! The Tsunami raft ride, seven waterslides, paddleboats, jet skis and white sandy beach will keep them happy for hours.
If you're in West Tennessee, make way for the ducks!! The kids will squeal with delight at The March of the Peabody Ducks, a twice-a-day must-see. To the tune of John Phillip Sousa's "King Cotton March," the fabled ducks waddle through the Peabody Hotel of Memphis and plop into the lobby's marble fountain. Just down the street at the Gibson Beale Street Showcase, grade-schoolers can watch craftsmen shape wood into guitars during a musician-led factory tour. 'Tweens and teens may be stunned while touring the National Civil Rights Museum. The burned carcass of the Freedom Riders bus, life-size exhibits and filmed footage bring to life one of America's most turbulent times.