Underground Tour of Tennessee, Part I

Tennessee has a lot going on beneath your feet!

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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.

Historic Appalachia: Resort Hot Spot!

Appalachia was the vacation spot of choice for droves of travelers in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

Travel is so easy nowadays. All we have to do to get out of town is hop in the car, gas it up and drive down the interstate. Or, we can head to the McGee-Tyson Airport in Alcoa (just outside Knoxville) and hop on a two-hour flight to Florida for palm trees and sandy beaches. It wasn’t so long ago—less than two generations—that travel was very difficult, time-consuming and expensive! In that era of days-long train travel, the upper-middle-class of America came by the car-load (train car, that is) to Appalachia.

You read right: Appalachia was the vacation spot of choice for droves of travelers in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Many leisure travelers lived inside cities, where industry was concentrated, so to get outside the brick-and-cobble jungle was a real treat for body and soul. In fact, during our country’s Industrial Revolution, medical doctors prescribed trips to the green, coal-smokeless hills of North Carolina and Tennessee on a regular basis. (That’s how the Vanderbilts ended up in Asheville: a trip for clean air away from railway smoke.)

The little towns of Dandridge, Morristown and Bean Station all had their tourist spots. Oh, they’d never give Dollywood a run for their money, but in their heyday the rural hot springs and bed-and-breakfasts did a pretty good business. Some of these places still retain a glint of their former allure. You can go there and walk, or sit awhile and see a glimpse of what it might have been like to enjoy the finest of rural American vacations at the turn of last century.

Dandridge

This gem of a town still retains its hardy brick buildings, some over a hundred and fifty years old. Although the TVA dammed the river nearby to flood most of the richest farmland, changing the landscape surrounding the town, many historic homes and businesses remain intact.

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Bean Station

Not much remains of the Tate House Springhouse resort these days; the 500-guest hotel was demolished years ago. There is still a lovely spring, though, and the pavilion is a local favorite spot for prom and wedding photo shoots. Its close proximity to the lake makes this a sweet little spot to stop by for a picnic.

Clinton

Part of the “White Lighting Trail,” this little town just outside Knoxville has a great, historic downtown ripe for strolling and enjoying a meal. Plus, if you like antiquing, this place holds some fabulous treasures.

Morristown

The General Longstreet Museum, Crockett Tavern Museum and Rose Center for the Arts all hold turn-of-last-century allure, giving a glimpse into the life and times of those who lived, loved and made a life in Morristown pre- and post-civil war.

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Modern vacation tastes often run to bright lights and rich foods, exciting rides and never-seen-before entertainment. We could take a page from vacationers of yore, who took a prescription for cleaner, Appalachian air and headed away from the overstimulating city for the noise of cicadas and crickets, the gentle breezes and distractions of a good game of lawn croquet.

Interested in owning your own little piece of history? Go to DarleneReeves-Kline.com to find properties for sale in lovely East Tennessee.

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!

History Field Trip: Morristown, Tennessee

Read on to see where you can soak up some local history.

During a recent visit to VisitMorristownTN.com, I noticed a great section of the site called “History and Heritage.” When I clicked on the link to see what historic gems the fair city of Morristown has to offer, I noticed the site’s list format of historic locations makes it perfect for planning a field trip! Read on to see where you can soak up some local history. Who knows! Maybe you’ll be inspired to get out of the house.

1. Crockett Tavern Museum

2002 Morningside Dr.

423-587-9900

www.crocketttavernmuseum.org

We wrote about the Crockett Tavern Museum on the blog, here. It’s a replica of the Crockett family home and a venue for special events throughout the year. Visit the website for information about visiting hours, and the volunteers, who are always happy to teach the curious about one of our local historical heroes.

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Crockett Tavern Museum

2. Bethesda Church & Cemetery

4990 Bethesda Road

423-438-0968

The Bethesda Church was used as a makeshift hospital for wounded soldiers during the civil war, and there are 82 unknown soldiers buried here. It’s designated as a stop on the Tennessee Civil War Trail.

3. General Longstreet’s Headquarters Museum

5915 E. Andrew Johnson Highway

423-438-0968

www.longstreetmuseum.com

In the winter of 1863-64, this house saw history being made. General Longstreet of the Confederate army used the building as his headquarters during that time. The house is now a museum, and a featured stop on the Civil War Tour in East Tennessee.

4. Historic Main Street and Crossroads Downtown Partnership

PO Box 1893

423-312-1476

www.crossroadspartnership.com

We featured Morristown’s Skymart and historic Main Street district on the blog, here. The elevated sidewalks are pretty cool, and throughout the year there are free family events worth checking out.

5.The Meeting Place Museum and Old Country Store

138 W. Main St.

865-250-2397

www.themeetingplacecountrystore.com

Hungry? This is a great place to grab a wrap and see some intriguing Tennessee history at the same time. It’s also available as a venue. See their website for more details.

6. Morristown Cemetery

601 E. Sixth North St.

Many of Morristown’s own residents may not realize that places they pass by every day are the sites of vicious Civil War battles. The Battle of Morristown was fought by mostly East Tennesseans on both sides of the divide, making it one of many battles in that bloody war where family fought against family. Visit this site to learn more about this historic battle. For a real-life experience, visit the Morristown Cemetery, high ground that was used by both Union and Confederate forces as a camp site. Both Union and Confederate soldiers are buried there.

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Morristown Cemetery

Morristown, agricultural and industrial hub that it is, was touched directly by the Civil War. It played an important role in nurturing the people who went on to settle the Wild West, and was itself part of the Frontier for a brief time in history. It’s a pretty comfortable place to live now, but that wasn’t always the case! It’s amazing to think about how different our lives are compared to what our ancestors experienced.

 

Visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com for information about real estate in Morristown, Tennessee.

 

 

Arts in Morristown, Tennessee

If you’re an artist, or someone who appreciates the sense of community and creativity that artists bring to a town, Morristown, Tennessee might have more for you than you think.

Art!

You might expect to find a wide array of art in tourist areas like Sevierville or Pigeon Forge, or in a bigger metropolitan area like Knoxville.  But if you’re new to the Morristown, Tennessee area, I’ll let you in on a great secret that locals know: Morristown is a major hub for the area’s thriving arts community. Artists from surrounding counties display fine art at the Rose Center, which boasts the newly refurbished  Edith Davis Gallery, as well as a Local Artist Gallery. Rose Center hosts bigger community events, too, such as the Mountain Makins Festival. Morristown also has a lively Art Association, which puts on Arts in the Park every September. Read on to find out more:

 

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Photo from tngenweb.org

Rose Center

This historic center was built in 1892 as the town’s first coeducational public high school. Today it’s a “Designated Agency of the Tennessee Arts Commission.” In this beautiful building you can take anything from  an art or yoga class (or enroll your kids in one!), to one of the Center’s courses on writing grant proposals for arts programs in our area. There’s even a Children’s Touch Museum and a Historical Classroom! The Center’s classrooms and reception areas are available to rent for community programs, weddings and baby showers.

According to RoseCenter.org: “Classes currently available may include guitar, acrylic painting, jewelry making, children’s art, drama, Zumba, tai chi, cake decorating, clogging, and more!”

If you have a skill and some time, Rose Center’s volunteer staff is happy to hear from you.

Rose Center is open Monday through Friday, 9-5. Visit RoseCenter.org for more information about the history and programs of Morristown’s cultural arts center.

Mountain Makins Festival

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Photo courtesy of visitmorristowntn.com

This is the 41st year for this acclaimed festival, hosted by the Rose Center Council for the Arts.

RoseCenter.org describes the festival: “The award-winning festival, started in 1976 as a way to raise funds to save historic Rose School, celebrates the very best of Appalachian culture, from crafts to music. The festival is a delightful combination of crafts, food, music, dancing and fun.”

This is one venue where you can get a ride on a pony, snack on some delicious fair food, stop by to check out  a banjo-strumming virtuoso in period garb and ogle local arts and crafts. Fall is incomplete without a good festival, and this one certainly fits the bill!

Visit Mountain Makins FaceBook page here.

Morristown Art Association

This thriving community of artists hosts a juried art show at the Rose Center, as well as gatherings and workshops throughout the year. In September they put on Arts in the Park, a family-friendly art show with live performances, food and local arts and crafts available for sale. They even include a tent where kids can make art with the help of a professional artist.

Visit their FaceBook page for information about upcoming events and membership.

If you’re an artist, or someone who appreciates the sense of community and creativity that artists bring to a town, Morristown, Tennessee might have more for you than you think.

Don’t forget to visit darlenereeves-kline.com/ for more information about listings in Morristown.

Jefferson City: Past and Present

Jefferson City, like many places in East Tennessee, is very proud of its storied history.

Jefferson City, like many places in East Tennessee, is very proud of its storied history. The area served as a springboard for many prosperous businesses, and some local families can trace their lineages back to before this great country could even call itself a country! Union forces marched through during the Civil War, leaving marks in the destruction of buildings and legends passed down for generations since. Old Time Saturday is coming up, a festival dedicated to celebrating community. Come out if you can; it’s a great opportunity to learn more about the area’s history. While you’re here, swing by two of Jefferson City’s great landmarks: Carson-Newman College and Glenmore Mansion. Keep reading to learn more about them.

Old Time Saturday

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No town in Tennessee is complete without a fall festival! Jefferson City is no different; each year in October locals and visitors alike come out to celebrate Old Time Saturday. There are vendors selling crafts, food, curiosities and delights. There is people-watching aplenty as families come out to mingle and celebrate some of the last warm weather of the year. Maybe best of all is the live music, including fiddle-sawing kids and dancing in the street. Please visit the Jefferson County website for more information.

The Old Time Saturday Facebook page can be found here: www.facebook.com/OldTimeSat.

This fun festival is a great chance to wander around historic Mossy Creek, where old brick buildings and shady roads still speak of history.

Carson-Newman College

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Carson-Newman College is celebrating its 165th anniversary this year (2016). In 1851, the institution opened its doors as the Mossy Creek Baptist Seminary, but it only kept this name for five years; in 1856 it became Mossy Creek Baptist College. The college shut down during the Civil War, when it was overrun and damaged by Union soldiers. Eventually, the name of the college was changed to honor a local trustee (J.H. Carson) and when it merged with a nearby college for women (Newman College) the name finally morphed into the one we know and love today: Carson-Newman College. The college is active in the Jefferson City community, especially in the revitalization of the Mossy Creek area, which we discussed in an earlier blog. Please visit www.cn.edu for more information about the school, including community events.

Glenmore Mansion

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The historic Glenmore Mansion, in the Mossy Creek district, has graced the hill on what is now called North Chucky Pike since 1868. It was lived in by two families who were prominent in local business: the Branners and the Jarnagins. Saved from the auction block in 1970, the mansion has undergone several phases of restoration. It is a beautiful piece of preserved history. There are periodic community events at Glenmore,  as well as private parties and weddings available by appointment. Tours are available on weekends from May to October. Call (865) 475-5014 for more information or visit glenmoremansion.com.

Not everything in Jefferson City is about the past; revitalization efforts are helping the city to grow day by day. The new festival park being constructed in Mossy Creek is just one example of this. Visit The Citizen Tribune to learn more about it.

Visit darlenereeves.com for listings and information about Jefferson City.