Northern Alabama, Shiloh Battlefield, & Nashville Tennessee!

Discussion in 'Travel Stories' started by giradman, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. giradman

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    Susan & I just returned from a 5-night trip to the west of North Carolina (our home state, USA) - flew into Nashville, TN (Tennessee), picked up a rental car, and drove to Florence, Alabama (AL) - spent 3 nights there @ a great Marriott Hotel - then back to Nashville (about 2+ hrs drive) for 2 more nights (our 4th visit to Nashville but first part of the trip were NEW experiences for us); I put about 500 miles on the car w/ this adventure.

    To start this travelogue is an attached map of middle TN and northern AL; the first part was a drive from Nashville (red arrow) to Florence (blue arrow) - from the latter, we did a day trip to the Shiloh Battlefield (green arrow back into TN near Corinth, Mississippi), an early Civll War battle occurring April 6-7, 1862.

    This is just the start, i.e. I'll add further posts describing in more detail the fascinating places and sites to visit in this area of the USA - now this will likely only be of interest to those who might be in the USA, but hopefully several members close by will be stimulated to visit some of these places. Dave :)
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    #1 giradman, Apr 21, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014
  2. giradman

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    Shiloh Battlefield - day trip from Florence, AL back into TN near the Mississippi state line - I'm an USA Civil War buff and have been to nearly all of the major battlefields of this war, which started on April 12, 1861 at Fort Sumter in Charleston (South Carolina) harbor and lasted 4 years ending at Appomattox Court House in southern Virginia (about an hour and a half from our home) in the spring of 1865 where Robert E. Lee surrendered to U.S. Grant.

    In early 1862, Grant captured Forts Henry and Donelson on the Tennessee (TN) & Cumberland rivers, respectively; he moved down the TN river to Pittsburgh Landing (pic below looking quite peaceful but a major area of activity in early April 1862 w/ gun ironclads, hospital boats, and other vessels); the battle started abruptly on April 6 when Albert Sidney Johnston's Confederates drove Grant's army back to the river; much of the activity centered around a small church called Shiloh (pic below of a reconstruction of the original), hence the name of the battle. Grant's army was soon reinforced by Buell's Army of Ohio.

    On the second day (April 7, 1862), Grant w/ now superior forces drove the southerns from the field and recovered all lost ground from the day before. This was a 'shocking' battle for the country; more than 110,000 men fought on both sides, over 3000 were killed on the battlefield (many more died later of their wounds) - the dead were so concentrated in places that Grant stated that he could cross a field just stepping on the fallen men w/o touching the ground! AS Johnston lost his life from a bullet to his right leg and the South lost one of its best generals. Now, all knew that the war would be long, bloody, and with a major loss of life - in the end over 600,000 men died in this war (nothing in US history of wars even came close).

    The visitor's center has an excellent 'new' film w/ CGI graphics of Union gunboats coming up the TN river to Pittsburgh Landing - Dave :)
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  3. giradman

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    W.C. Handy Birthplace & Museum - William Christopher Handy (1873-1958) was born in Florence, AL in a 2-room log cabin (the walls are preserved @ the museum). Handy was a musician, composer (e.g. St. Louis Blues), and music publisher who spent much of his later life in New York City (location of his publishing company). Handy played the trumpet & piano - he is called the Father of the Blues, which is a misnomer, i.e. in the early 1900s he heard the blues in Mississippi; the sound & rhythms fascinated him and he started to compose in a similar manner (e.g. Beale Street Blues), so he kind of 'commercialized' the blues which became better known w/ the boom in recorded music in the 1920s.

    We visited the museum on our way back from Shiloh - now in downtown Florence; the establishment contains only about a half dozen rooms; a short tour is given by a docent and then plenty of time to browse - contains many items (including numerous awards & letters - 3 of the latter from USA presidents) which were donated by family from his NYC home after his death. Handy is honored yearly w/ festivals (in Florence & Memphis) - he also has a statue on Beale Street in Memphis, a historic blues locale (we went to Memphis a few years ago and Susan sang @ a restaurant on the street - kind of neat!).

    Handy's music is still being performed in many ways and his melodies have been a common source of material for jazz musicians over the decades - for those who may be interested, I would strongly suggest the CD shown below w/ Louis Armstrong - this is my second version which has better restoration and the addition of extra tracks. Dave :) (P.S. click on images for enlargement).
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  4. giradman

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    Helen Keller Birthplace & Museum - our second day in Florence, AL - there are actually three towns in the vicinity (see aerial map below; white arrow is the location of our hotel); Florence lies on and north of the Tennessee River; south of the river are Tuscumbia & Muscle Shoals, each w/ its own history and attractions - I'll start w/ Tuscumbia, which is the birthplace of Helen Keller (1880-1968) (Wiki bio HERE) on a large property called Ivy Green; distant relatives included Robert E. Lee (famous Confederate general) and John Q. Adams (son of the 2nd president of the USA, and also the 6th president for one term).

    Helen Keller was born normal but at 19 months suffered a brain infection, which left here totally blind and deaf; in early 1887, Annie Sullivan arrived at the home as a special teacher and was able w/ hand signs to communicate w/ Helen; Annie remained her friend and companion for nearly a half of a century. The story is wonderfully depicted in the movie The Miracle Worker (1962) w/ Anne Bancroft & Patty Duke (her first role in film) - both won the Oscar for their performances - Helen was a beautiful young woman (see pics below of her w/ Sullivan & the house/pump) who graduated from Radcliffe College (Harvard's Women's school) w/ a B.A. degree.

    She went on to become a writer of many books, a world famous speaker (yes!), and so many other accomplishments. The house is open for tours and the famous pump where Helen first recognized that 'water' related to the hand signs that Annie Sullivan was trying to teach her - highly recommended if you are in the area - Dave :)

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  5. The OB

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    A really great travelogue Dave, thanks. A wealth of detail provided and most useful for anyone planning to enjoy a visit to American State/s not on the usual unimaginative tourist traps for overseas visitors.
    Andrew


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  6. giradman

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    Hi Andrew - thanks for the comments - plan to add another post today about Muscle Shoals​ - lovers of the 'southern soul sound' alerted! :) Dave
     
    #6 giradman, Apr 23, 2014
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  7. leelai

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    Wonderful travelogues Giradman!

    Such fascinating snippets of history....and the photos just make it come to life more!

    Thank you.....look forward to reading more! ;)
     
  8. giradman

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    Thanks Leelai - about to add our next activity! Dave :)
     
  9. giradman

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    Muscle Shoals & FAME Recording Studio​ - FAME (pic below - modest outside + inside studio) has been recording numerous music stars for over 50 years - brief quote below from Wiki HERE; we toured the studio (there were 3 other members in our group, a father and 2 sons from Germany - just an example of fans the world over who visit the studio!). Co-founded by Rick Hall (in the late '50s and seen in the second image) who is now in his 80s - the studio is still active although the most famous musicians/singers were from the early decades of its existence.

    Their website HERE has numerous tabs of interest, e.g. click on 'Recording Studios' just to see the number of individuals who have recorded in this northern Alabama musical oasis. For those interested, there is a recent excellent documentary (shown below) nearly 2 hrs long that is a must watch (Susan & I streamed the video late last year & yet again a week or so before our trip) - highly recommended if you already know about Muscle Shoals and/or the listing of performers in the links given are some of your favorites; also, there are a number of musical compilations that might be of interest, such as the one below (far right; 3-disc set). Dave :)

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  10. giradman

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    Alabama Music Hall of Fame - our last stop on that second day in the Florence area - located in Tuscumbia on HW 72 is Alabama's music hall of fame (Website HERE) - the museum is well done w/ an amazing number of musical performers/producers/songwriters, etc.; plus, a section of the building is dedicated to the FAME studio described in my previous post.

    In addition, to W.C. Handy, some other of the more famous inductees include Hank Williams, Sam Philips (founder Sun Studios in Memphis), Nat King Cole, Delmore & Louvin Brothers, Dinah Washington, Percy Sledge, Tammy Wynette, Alabama, Billy Sherrill (a co-founder of FAME & songwriter), Lionel Ritchie, Wilson Pickett, Emmylou Harris, and many others (just a few are shown in the images below) - if you're in the vicinity a short but recommended visit! Dave :)

    P.S. I own CDs of nearly all of the performers/musicians mentioned above, and Philips in Memphis in the 1950s was responsible for recording the early Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, & Carl Perkins (Mr. Blue Suede Shoes) - I've made a visit there twice (yet another recommendation!) - :D

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