Eastern Tennessee - Knoxville - Atomic Bomb!

Discussion in 'Travel Stories' started by giradman, Aug 25, 2014.

  1. giradman
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    Well, Susan & I just returned from a 4-night trip to eastern Tennessee (TN) - we stayed in Knoxville (just over a 4 hour drive from home w/ Asheville half way in-between) - we have made at least 3 trips to this area which has some fascinating history & geography - in this travelogue, I'll try to convey why a visit here would be of interest - not sure how many posts I'll contribute but hope all will be of interest?

    North Carolina & Tennessee (the latter derived from a Native American Cherokee name, Tanasi) extend from the Atlantic Ocean (Outer Banks) to the Mississippi River, a distance of nearly 1000 miles - below is a map showing the two states w/ arrows added to appropriate sites, i.e. Nags Head to Memphis, TN (the distance mentioned), and also Winston Salem (our home) to Knoxville, TN - the areas that I'll discuss will include the entire eastern portion of TN - the two main cities are Knoxville & Chattanooga near the Georgia border which I'll also discuss - SO, a lot more to describe and will take a number of posts - for those who may be able to visit this area, please ask some questions. Dave :)
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  2. scifan57
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    I'm eagerly awaiting another excellent travel thread.
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  3. giradman
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    East Tennessee & Knoxville

    East Tennessee's (TN) rugged mountainous region was once part of North Carolina (NC) and the western counties of NC and those of east TN because of cultural similarities and isolation attempted to form a separate state in the 1780s called Franklin, named after Benjamin Franklin - this was 'short-lived' but emphasizes the differences between this portion of TN and the rest of the state.

    On the first map below, East TN is shown in red and is entirely w/i the Appalachian Mountains and is thus geographically and culturally part of Appalachia, which encompasses western NC and adjacent parts of Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and northern Georgia. One important reflection of these cultural differences relates to its music (the book shown below is an excellent introduction) - the music the Eastern TN reflects that of Appalachia (string bands, bluegrass, mountain ballads & songs); centrally, country music and Nashville dominate; and on the Mississippi, Memphis is the home of blues & soul.

    The second map below shows the Appalachian Mountains and TN Valley where Chattanooga is located in the south and Knoxville north centrally, which are the third & fourth largest cities in the state; in the far northeastern corner are the Tri-Cities (Kingsport, Bristol, & Johnson City). All of these cities and their environs have wonderful natural and man-made attractions, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which 'straddles' TN & NC w/ different entry points and attractions.

    More on Knoxville in the next post - more detailed history of East TN HERE - Dave :)
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  4. giradman
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    Knoxville, TN

    Migration across the mountains from the east (e.g. Virginia & the Carolinas), especially after the American Revolutionary War, helped to populate this portion of TN - James White is considered the founder of Knoxville in 1786; his small stockaded fort is now a restored historic attraction (quote below from HERE).

    In 1791, William Blount (1749-1800), a statesman, signer of the US Constitution, and land speculator, obtained a parcel of land near the White fort which became the start of Knoxville - the city was named after Henry Knox, who was the then Secretary of War on George Washington's cabinet, and also a general on Washington's staff in charge of artillery during the Revolutionary War. Blount became the territory governor and was instrumental in Tennessee's admission as the 16th state of the union in 1796. Knoxville was the first capital of TN and alternated until Nashville was chosen as the permanent location in 1826.

    Blount built the first framed house west of the mountains, which served as his home and also his office - now known as the Blount Mansion - is now in a major restoration but can be visited by the public w/ an excellent guided tour. Dave :)

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  5. scifan57
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    scifan57 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks, I enjoy reading about different areas of the world. I await further posts.
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  6. giradman
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    Thanks Scifan... - well, with at least 3 trips to eastern TN, I've got plenty that can be added! :) Dave
  7. giradman
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    Knoxville, TN (continued)

    Knoxville is the largest city in eastern TN w/ a population of about 180,000 (Chattanooga just below that number; my town, Winston-Salem is now at 230,000). The city is built along the Tennessee River (boat cruises w/ meals are available) and has a spectacular skyline when viewed from the Sunsphere (266 ft high) which was built for the 1982 World's Fair held there that year - first pics below show the skyline and the surrounding mountains which are not appreciated on the ground. Third pic by me of the Sunsphere from the Art Museum - elevator ride to the observatory deck is free (no drinks, food, nor gift shop - and does NOT rotate!).

    We stayed at a small independent hotel called the Oliver near the renovated Market Square which is a block from Gay Street, one of the main downtown streets - the Square is full of restaurants & a small park - pics below the first three are mine. The KAT (Knoxville Area Transit) runs a 'free' trolley w/ 3 routes, 2 in the downtown and one going to the University of Tennessee campus (next post) passing a number of attractions. Our main activities in the city included a visit to the James White Fort, Blount Mansion, Eastern Tennessee Historical Museum, Knoxville Art Museum, Sunsphere, and the McClung Museum on the University campus.

    On the way back from a seafood restaurant (w/ shockingly GREAT oysters of different kinds - went back the last night!) along Gay Street, we past one of those delightful mountain city music shops - Susan is a musician w/ several guitars, a piano, two harps, two dulcimers, etc.! BUT, she does not have a ukelele (which she played as a teenager) - SO, we bought one! (last pic below). Dave :)

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  8. J. A.
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    Your descriptions are interesting and informative. - As usual. :)
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  9. giradman
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    Thanks Johanna - I'm putting together posts from 3 trips to eastern TN, so have a 'handful' more to add! :)

    For those who might be interested in Susan's new ukelele, it was one of those impulse buys - the instrument was $250 which I thought was fine for the quality construction and the sound, BUT I had no idea - well, the company has a website HERE, and I found a description w/ a MSRP of $340 (so we did get a good deal).

    Screen capture below - the main wood is Koa from the Hawaiian Islands - quoted below a description of this wood from one experienced w/ a luthier's field (Source) - Dave :)

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  10. suenc
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    I have been trying to improve my technique with the guitar that Giradman bought me in Memphis a few years ago, so I wasn't in the market for a uke, but they're trendy now and awfully cute. I hope to be playing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" ala Izzy the Hawaiian guy. Uke tuning is different from the guitar, so I will have some mental exercise in alternating between the two, but they say that mental workouts help the memory (I need all the help I can get.) ;)
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    I didn't expect to enjoy Knoxville as much as I did. Since the temp was in the 90s, the free trolley was a welcome surprise. I have to second Giradman's review of the food. Our oyster feasts are usually few and far between.
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  13. suenc
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    This is a scenic and historical area. I'm still a lover of the ocean but the mountains have their charm. We had planned an outing to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but rain was predicted and there was so much to do in Knoxville.
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  14. scifan57
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    This thread is turning out to be even more interesting than usual. Keep up the excellent posts.
  15. The OB
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    Really great photos in this "series" giradman and suenc. Knoxville is a beautiful little city, nicely illustrated/described by you. You've filled in gaps in info, well mine anyway:), about that part of America not seen as the usual tourist traps, much more attractive and "visitable" IMO. Your little culinary adventures in passing just add to the enjoyment here. Oysters? Oh Yesss!!
    Andrew
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  16. giradman
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    Hi Andrew - plenty more to come, but we were rather SHOCKED by the quality of the seafood this far inland. The first night we 'tried' Shucker's Raw Bar & Ale - we had 4 different oysters on the half shell (shared a dozen & a half), along w/ a delicious shrimp ceviche & a tuna sashimi salad - cannot remember where the oysters were from but vaguely recall Blue Points (Long Island), Malpeaque from PEI (Prince Edward Island), James River, and another one (maybe Chesapeake Bay).

    Second night, we ate at a seafood chain called Chesapeake - started out sharing a dozen oysters (3 different ones) - I had the grilled swordfish; Susan had Crab Imperial (w/ plenty of fresh crab, shrimp, cheese) along w/ a side dish called Baked Spinach Maria (spinach, macaroni , and more cheese - I had a few bites - DELICIOUS!).

    Third night back to Shucker's, started w/ a dozen oysters (4 types including one from the Pacific Northwest - love oysters from the west coast of the USA!), dozen steamed clams, and simply repeated the same as above.

    Last night, we tried a French bistro called Cafe du Soleil (Menu) - we both started out w/ the Duck Confit Salad (below); Susan had the rabbit dish & I the veal stuffed pork tenderloin; then shared a lemon tart w/ some fresh brewed coffee - great way to end a nice trip! Dave :)

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  17. giradman
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    University of Tennessee - Quite a Campus!

    The University of Tennessee's 'flagship' campus is in Knoxville along the Tennessee River (see map & pics below; arrow on football stadium). The school started out as Blount College (of course after William from the previous post; in fact, his daughter was the first coed graduate from a college in the United States) but was chartered as a public college (later University) in 1794 (third oldest public university in the country after Georgia in Athens, GA, 1784 and U of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, 1789).

    This is a LARGE campus which Susan & I love to roam - we met on the University of Michigan campus, so brought back many memories (and boy the students looked young!). There are 27,000+ students (both undergrads & grads) - the Vol Trolley routes through the campus, passes the Sunsphere & Knoxville Art Museum on its course through the downtown area (perpendicular to the other trolley routes).

    The McClung Museum is on the campus and a recommended visit (gem attraction in AAA guide of TN). The museum is not large and concentrates on ancient cultures (nice small Egyptian exhibit) and those of the pre-Columbian natives of the area; also has an anthropologic emphasis w/ another small exhibit on the evolution of man.

    Finally, the football stadium is HUGE - called Neyland Stadium (see pics for a perspective) and w/ a capacity of over 104,000 spectators (one of the top 10 in the USA for university stadiums; the largest is actually where I went to school, the University of Michigan w/ 109,900 seating capacity!). The U of TN nickname is the Vols (w/ numerous men & women sports teams), shorten for Volunteers (after the state's nickname) - presumably relates back to the War of 1812 when so many men from TN 'volunteered' to fight, especially w/ Andy Jackson @ the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Dave :)
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  18. giradman
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    Knoxville's Environs

    Knoxville is strategically situated with a number of 'day trips' w/i an hour or less to enjoy!

    I'll be discussing the following in the next posts: 1) Museum of Appalachia; 2) Green McAdoo Cultural Center; 3) Oak Ridge; and 4) Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Dave :)
  19. giradman
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    Museum of Appalachia - A Must!

    The Museum of Appalachia is located about a half hour north of Knoxville and is now part of the Smithsonian Institution - their website HERE - founded by John Rice Irwin contains numerous historic buildings from small cabins to larger log houses, workshops, and a wonderful building called the Hall of Fame, which is stuffed w/ thousands of artifacts and stories of the peoples and cultures of the Appalachian area (Susan & I spent nearly 2 hours in the building but even a whole day would not be enough).

    Their story (short version, of course) is quoted below from the link above. A wonderful gift shop is on premises w/ many mountain crafts, foods, etc. on sale - also a quaint restaurant serving food of the region, so a nice lunch stop. I've added a bunch of pics, some are mine including Susan walking out the Hall of Fame (also pic of a portion of the mountain instrument collection) - as stated in the title, if you happened to be in eastern TN, then a must stop! Dave :)

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  20. giradman
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    Green McAdoo Cultural Center

    Clinton, Tennessee is now part of the greater Knoxville metropolitan area but in the 1950s was a small town in the midst of a segregation issue, i.e. busing black students who had finished grade school into Knoxville to a black segregated high school (HS) there, apparently a long and miserable 2-way trip daily on poor roads of the times.

    Desegregation of schools seemed to receive more attention in Arkansas & Alabama in the mid-50s, but according to the quote from their website HERE, Clinton HS was the first to integrate a publicly supported high school in the south. The small cultural center is located in the old Green McAdoo grade school which the students involved in the integration attended.

    A visit involves a short video followed by a self-guided tour through several rooms that illustrate and discuss the civil rights issues of the times and also the destruction of the HS on Sunday, October 5, 1958, when the school was blown apart by three massive explosions. Pics below from the web; several of the current Cultural Center w/ the statue of the twelve students (and a view of the town of Clinton), and a number of B&W images from the exhibit, including one of the blown-up high school - what happen after is yet another story. Dave :)

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