Underground Tour of Tennessee, Part II

There’s more to the ground around here than just what you can see on top of it.

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Welcome back to the view of our great state from the underground! As we mentioned in last week’s post, Tennessee is home to gorgeous above-ground features: lovely mountains, dense forests, majestic wildlife. Rivers, waterfalls and lakes abound, here. Sunrises and sunsets dazzle the eye.

But there’s more to the ground around here than just what you can see on top of it. Tennessee is home to a network of caves and caverns that play a very rich part in our great state’s history, from the time when only Native Americans wandered their vast, stony rooms to eras of war, when soldiers would take refuge in the protection of the hidden caves and use their resources, like bat guano for gunpowder and fresh water to drink.

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Read on to find out where you can descend into the earth for a glimpse of history and geological wonders!

Forbidden Caverns

Located in Sevierville, Forbidden Caverns is a great attraction to spice up your Smoky Mountain vacation (or, for us locals to spend a day trip exploring underground!) As all our amazing caves do, Forbidden Caverns is full of unique geological features and clear, underwater streams. They have a worthwhile presentation and light effects in the cave, as well as guides to augment your trip.

Racoon Mountain Caverns

Head southwest to Chattanooga, where Racoon Mountain boasts of the state’s most popular Wild Cave Tours! As the name suggests, these caves are anything but tame. Open to the public since 1931, Racoon Mountain Caverns are home to some incredible underground scenery, fantastic geological formations and fascinating fossils. It’s a great place for adventure and education.

Tours can be physically demanding, though; part of the cave is considered “wild,” with no artificial light installations. Those wanting to explore on a guided tour of this part of the cave will need sturdy shoes and clothes (that you don’t mind getting filthy), a helmet with headlamp and knee pads and gloves. Racoon Mountain tour guides provide the gear.

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Ruby Falls

A tourist favorite, Ruby Falls is just outside Chattanooga, below famous Lookout Mountain. It was discovered in 1930, and has been fascinating locals and tourists alike ever since. This is one of the few places on our list where you can check out a breathtaking, bird’s eye view of Chattanooga and see an incredible underground vista—all in the same attraction! The underground falls are worth seeing. They’re lit up with a dazzling light show.

Cherokee Caverns

Cherokee Caverns is located on Oak Ridge Highway in Knoxville, Tennessee. This family-friendly cave hosts year-round events, such as “Movie in the Cave.” Are you a Harry Potter fan? Just wait until you see it surrounded by stone walls, stalactites and the occasional bat! Talk about ambience! Be sure to bring a light jacket and blanket, though; the constant 58 degrees can feel a little chilly if you’re not up and moving around.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our blog tour of area caves! Honestly, the list we featured is not nearly all of the caves under our feet here in Tennessee; we have the most (known) caves of any of these United States! But many of the other caves require advanced skills to explore. It’s just one more thing that makes Tennessee special.

As always, if you’re interested in finding the right real estate for your needs above-ground, please visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’d love to help.

Underground Tour of Tennessee, Part I

Tennessee has a lot going on beneath your feet!

As you might imagine, much of the day-to-day living in Tennessee takes place above the ground. Hiking, swimming and boating, disc golf, shopping, school and work … all this stuff happens with the sky up above, or at least a typical ceiling and roof.

But Tennessee, no stranger to wondrous natural phenomena, has a whole lot going underneath your feet, too! Read on to find out what lies beneath the surface:

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Tuckaleechee Caverns

Tuckaleechee Caverns, located in (well, under) Townsend, Tennessee, is only 45 minutes from Sevierville and less than 20 minutes from the famed Institute at Tremont, located inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Tagged as “The Greatest Site Under the Smokies,” these caverns are pretty popular.

Inside, you can see a chamber almost big enough to fit a football stadium, and the tallest subterranean waterfalls. The whole underground tour is about a mile and a quarter, round trip. With gorgeous cave formations and a rich history, Tuckaleechee Caverns is well worth the day-trip.

And, when you’re done touring the cave, you can go for a walk, bike and camp in the gorgeous Smokies!

Cumberland Caverns

Cumberland Caverns, a U.S. National Landmark, are located in middle Tennessee, about an hour and 40 minutes from Nashville. Your experience here could last for days, with everything from short explorations to overnight trips and even live, underground bluegrass concerts available! We think the bluegrass tickets are the best value; you get a day pass to tour the caves before watching the show.

Like most caves, the temperature is just under 60 degrees Fahrenheit, year-round, so it feels warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Constant temperatures also mean these cave attractions are open pretty much every day!

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The Lost Sea Adventure

The Lost Sea, located in Sweetwater, is America’s largest underground lake. Here, you can take a boat trip … underground! You can also take more traditional, walking tours in the caverns. These are worth the trip: some of the most rare cave formations can be found here, including 50% of the world’s known “cave flowers.”

If you’re hungry and still up for some adventure after your tour, there is food and a little bit of souvenir shopping available at the Lost Sea Adventure, as well as nature walks through the woods.

Appalachian Caverns

Way up in the northeast corner of Tennessee is Appalachian Caverns, in Blountville. Here, you can take guided tours of the caverns and kick around in the campground, gift shop and “gem mining” shop. This is a fantastic location for history: the Appalachian Caverns have been important to the residents of the area since the 675 A.D. In more recent eras, the bat dung found inside the caves played an important role in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars: it was a key ingredient for gunpowder!

Each of these amazing, underground natural wonders is an absolutely unique experience that can (and should!) be shared with the whole family. Formations like this are just one more reason that Tennessee is a great place to call home.

Check in next week to find out about  more famous Tennessee caves!

If you’re looking for real estate above ground, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’ll be happy to help.

Eclipse Madness (and Other Natural Phenomena)!

As locals know, Tennessee is no stranger to awe-inspiring natural events and features.

The total eclipse of the sun, visible at totality in many locations here in East Tennessee, is just three days away!

People from around the country are flocking to our area to view this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. We’re hoping for good weather to view the eclipse. If you’re planning to get a glimpse of the eclipse, please keep in mind that not all eclipse glasses are equal. Get NASA-approved lenses if you’re going to stare up into the sky on August 21!

Also, be aware that interstates and highways are going to be choked with traffic. Between out-of-town eclipse-chasers and locals trying to get the best view, there is an extremely high volume of vehicles expected to be out and about over the next several days. You don’t want to be stuck in a wreck instead of witnessing one of the most noteworthy scientific events of our time!

As locals know, Tennessee is no stranger to awe-inspiring natural events and features. To prove it, we’ve listed a few below.

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Synchronized Fireflies

Every summer, in a specific location in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a breed of fireflies get together for a unique light show. These little guys glow frenetically for several seconds before total darkness descends in the woods, almost like a firefly switch getting flicked off. Then they start back up again! You can witness the synchronized fireflies yourself, but you have to get on a waiting list. After all, if everybody went tramping around in the woods after these little glowy guys, they’d probably be crushed into extinction. Check out the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website to find out more.

Wildlife

Black bears, white-tailed deer, owls, skunks, coyote, turkey, bobcats and painters (mountain lions) … even though the great herds of buffalo and elk were moved on when people moved in generations ago, Tennessee is still home to an amazingly diverse roster of wildlife. Even in neighborhoods closer to urban areas, turkey, deer and even bear sightings aren’t at all unusual!

New Madrid Earthquakes

Reelfoot Lake, which stretches into Arkansas, Missouri and about as far into western Tennessee as you can get, is relatively young for a natural lake: only about 206 years old. The New Madrid quakes (named for a town on the Mississippi River that took the brunt of the damage) were the strongest quakes in recorded history east of the Rockies. Although it’s pretty to see now, the site of Reelfoot Lake was terrifying on the night of December 16, 1811, when the Reelfoot Rift gave a mighty heave!

Haints

With natural wonders like blinking fireflies, glowing foxfire, bobcat cries that sound like distressed women, and drifting, eerie fog, it’s no wonder our lovely valleys and ridges are fertile ground for ghost stories and superstitions. You can’t learn Tennessee history without hearing a ghost story or two! Click here to read more haint recollections.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little bit about the wonder of our lovely state! If you’re looking to settle here, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com for current listings.

Summer Bucket List

Here’s a list of fun, family-friendly summer activities right here in East Tennessee!

There’s so much great stuff to do with your family here in East Tennessee, sometimes it can be hard to keep it all straight! We’ve compiled a list of things you should check out before the days start to get shorter, the nights get that crisp edge and the fireflies fade away for the season. Read on!

Visit the Zoo!

Easily accessible of I40 in East Knoxville, the zoo has lots to see and do. They recently revamped their tiger habitat, bringing you up close and personal to their gorgeous, endangered Malayan tigers! Asian Trek, where the tigers now live, is also home to rare cranes, and primates.

We’ve had thunder-stormy weather lately, but when the skies dry out you can have fun on the splash pad. The zoo has changing rooms and lockers available for your dry stuff, so you can still see the rest of the animals without feeling too soggy.

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Check out Dollywood!

This theme park in Sevierville is a local and national favorite! Dolly is always changing up the performances, so each visit is a whole new experience. In the summer, the park lights up the sky with fireworks each night. There are roller coaster rides, local artists and artisans giving live performances, and lots of food to try. Don’t forget Splash Country, as long as you’re headed that way!

Picnic at the Park

We can’t say enough about our wonderful parks. A low-key afternoon playing on the swings and slides, a competitive game of disc golf, splashing at the edge of the lake … it’s a classic summer day! Bring a cooler with some sandwiches and Popsicles (and sunscreen) and you’re all set.

We also have some great splash pads at our parks, so pack your swimsuits and towels!

Take a Hike

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in our backyard, and it’s spectacular. You can choose anything from a stroll to a rigorous day hike, to even backpacking into the backcountry—but be sure to check with the Park’s rangers to find out about permitting.

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We have lots of wildlife in the mountains, including bears, so be cautious. Never, ever attempt to feed the bears! When you feed bears, you’re giving them a death sentence. Rangers can’t keep bears away from people once they’ve figured out that humans are a food source, so sometimes the only answer is to euthanize them.

Cade’s Cove

This settlement, located in the Smokies, is accessible by car. It’s a glimpse back in time, to when communities had to be self-reliant. You can park and take one of the many day hikes just off the paved loop, or just walk up to one of the cabins, or even the old mill. Cade’s Cove is a living history lesson!

White Water Rafting

Our area is full of natural wonders, and the beautiful mountains can’t get all the credit! The Big Pigeon River, in Hartford, Tennessee and the Ocoee River, about an hour east of Chattanooga, offer thrills you can’t experience anywhere else! Take a guided raft tour of the rivers and stay the night in a nearby cabin, or head back home in time to grill out for supper.

Interested in finding out more about the lifestyle here in East Tennessee? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Campfire Ghost Tales

Check out a few local “haunted” places!

Every year there comes a season for telling tales to make your short hairs stand up, for giving you the shivers, for making the friendly light of a bonfire turn trees and shadows into dancing ghosts … if you think I’m talking about Halloween, think again!

It’s camping season, and the weather has been great for it! Aside from all this rain from Tropical Storm Cindy, we’ve had days and nights of mild weather and even relatively low humidity here in pleasant East Tennessee. All this sweet summer weather makes it just right to pitch a tent in the backyard, roast hot dogs over a camp fire and chase fireflies in the twilight.

But, when the moon is out and the fire gets low, the time for telling tales is just right. Locals know that East Tennessee is famous for storytelling! With misty apparitions, magical fireflies and mysterious late-night animal noises, the background is perfect for some old-fashioned yarn-spinning! And, something about a good campfire brings out the best ghost stories.

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Here are a few infamously haunted places in our area to get your campfire tales started:

Bethesda Church and Cemetery in Morristown, Tennessee

Reportedly, Confederate soldiers buried here at the cemetery don’t take kindly to visitors with *ahem* Yankee accents coming around. Stories of women weeping, misty, foggy shapes and general creepy feelings surround this historic site when the sun goes down and the moon comes out. If you find yourself wandering outside the cemetery at night, you’d best starting whistling Dixie!

Greeneville, Tennessee: General Morgan Inn

HauntedPlaces.org lists historic General Morgan Inn as one of its haunted places. Green Room Grace, a waitress in times of yore, is supposedly playful and fun. Her favorite prank is snatching spoons from the hotel restaurant! Maybe they’ll renovate the hotel someday and find a whole stash of tarnished spoons behind a wall!

Jonesboro, Tennessee

The oldest official town of Tennessee, this place has two reportedly haunted hotels! The Hawley House Bed and Breakfast and the Historic Eureka Inn have given guests the heebie-jeebies with late-night whispers, unexplained footsteps and shadowy figures,  thought to be the spirits of women who once worked in the hotels.

Glenmore Mansion in Jefferson City, Tennessee

It’s rare that a ghost announces he’ll be a ghost before he passes, but that’s what witnesses say happened at the famous Glenmore Mansion! This Victorian gem, restored and maintained by diligent locals, is reportedly a favorite spot for now-deceased historian Thomas Roach. Witnesses have seen a friendly, misty figure roaming the property. There have also been sightings of an apparition of a woman in white in the upper windows at night.

Looking for more ghost stories? Check out these haunted tours by Appalachian Ghost Walks!

If you like to hear a masterful tale spinner, then Jonesboro, Tennessee is the place for you. The International Storytelling Center there has events year-round for audiences and participants alike! You have plenty of time to plan to attend this year’s National Storytelling Festival, October 6-8, 2017.

Interested in looking for the perfect backyard to tell your own campfire tales? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com!

Activities in Dandridge, Tennessee

Dandridge might have exactly the kind of entertainment you’re looking for.

TripAdvisor.com has a list of 16 must-do activities in Dandridge, Tennessee. The town of Dandridge is not very big, but it’s close to our area’s better-known tourist destination: Sevierville, Tennessee.

For locals, or those who want to take a step away from the more crowded attractions, a place like Dandridge might have exactly the kind of entertainment you’re looking for.

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If you’re checking out the list on TripAdvisor, one of the attractions (#15) is closed and the last one (#16) has no reviews, but 14 activities on the list give you a great itinerary for planning your vacation or staycation. I know, I know, it’s February, but summer is just around the corner. (Or maybe it’s just that our warm winter is making people antsy for real summer to come around!)

Almost half of the things to do on the list include water activities, and for good reason. Douglas Lake is beautiful. It’s accessible for free at several beaches and marinas (check this link for a list), and water recreation vehicles are available for rent at marinas in the area for an affordable day of fun. If the adrenaline-rush of speeding around on a watercraft gets old, take some time to sight-see on one of the marina sunset cruises, or slow way, way down and swim or fish. Just make sure you have your license. Fun fact: you can get a fishing license from your mobile phone, now! Check out this link from TWRA to find out how.

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Looking for things to enjoy in Dandridge during the cooler months?

You can still go shopping and eat at the historic homes-turned-shops (and restaurants) in quaint downtown Dandridge, or go for a meal at one of the lakeside restaurants. Tinsley-Bible Drugstore is always worth a visit for a relaxed ambience, some shopping and a bite to eat.

If you’re a golfer, check out Dandridge Golf and Country Club. It’s a nice way to spend a quiet afternoon.

Looking for a bit of history? Visit the Revolutionary War Graveyard.

If you’re looking for an unexpectedly quirky tour, check out the Bush’s Baked Beans Visitor Center for an authentic piece of Americana. There, you’ll find more interactive, family-friendly exhibits than you might expect involving beans, including a family photo op, a giant can of beans and the opportunity to check your weight in beans. The Bush family has been making their famous products here for more than a hundred years, and you can still see the original general store where it all began.

This attraction is also featured on RoadsideAmerica.com.

For the ultimate thrill-seeker, there’s always skydiving.

One of the most fun parts of Tennessee is how you never know what you’ll find if you step away from the beaten tourist path. This fun list of activities on the back porch of Sevierville is a great example of this.

As always, please visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com if you are interested in settling down in our beautiful area, or if you have any real estate questions.

 

Community and Beauty: Why We Love East Tennessee!

Our eastern corner of Tennessee is full of places like that: local secrets, where the authenticity hasn’t been polished off by the tourism industry.

Ask anyone who has made East Tennessee their home what their favorite things about living here are, and sense of community is bound to make the list.

During our 2016 wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains, local businesses, churches, schools and groups of private individuals banded together to provide relief in the form of food, clothing (including pajamas and teddy bears for displaced kids), Power Bars, water and Gatorade for fire fighters, and money. The support was so immediate and overwhelming that, at one point during the crisis, aid workers in Sevier County couldn’t find space to put all the supplies! It’s exactly this spirit that makes Tennessee the Volunteer State.

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Our smaller communities have this amazing “helping out” attitude, too. It’s evident in the revitalization of the Mossy Creek district in Jefferson City, the organizations that provide help to homeless families in Morristown, the knowledgeable folks at Clinch-Powell RC&D in Rutledge who help local families become first-time homeowners and veterans get help paying off their mortgages.

Remember that list of reasons why people love to call East Tennessee home? The beauty of our natural environment is high on that list, too.

Clinch-Powell RC&D combines its mission for benefiting local communities with benefiting the environment in Hancock County. There, they have revitalized an old general store into a hub for ecotourism. Kyles Ford in Hancock County is remote, but it’s this secluded quality that makes it ripe for a great family vacation experience. There are cabins for rent and space to pitch a tent if that’s more your pace. There’s a great restaurant in the old store, and the porch doubles as a stage for regular local and regional live music performances.

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It’s called River Place on the Clinch, and it overlooks (you guessed it!) the sleepy Clinch River, which is home to an amazingly diverse ecosystem. There is more diversity of mussels in the Clinch River than can be found in the entirety of Europe! So, don’t be surprised if you see scientists wading through the water to study its residents. In fact, you might see lots of things you’d never catch sight of in town, like turkey and deer wandering in the grass down below the back deck.

River Place offers tube rentals and shuttles during the hot summer months. You could spend a whole weekend just floating on the river, listening to live music, chowing down on food, spotting wild deer and turkey, catching twilight fireflies, and generally enjoying the natural bounty of East Tennessee. With spring peeking around the corner, this kind of vacation sounds just about perfect.

Kyles Ford is about an hour from Morristown on Highway 31, making it a great weekend escape location. Lots of repeat visitors found it originally while wandering on the backroads, or traveling via motorcycle on Highway 70. Our eastern corner of Tennessee is full of places like that: local secrets, where the authenticity hasn’t been polished off by the tourism industry.

If you’re interested in learning more about real estate in Morristown, Jefferson City, or even Hancock County, go to DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.