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Friday, June 30, 2017

Azalea Cascade - DeSoto State Park

Azalea Cascade - DeSoto State Park

Desoto State Park is located atop Lookout Mountain in DeKalb County, AL. On this summer day, it was a small trickle. Water appears to flow out of the middle of a rock down some stones into a small stream. The cascade is easily accessible as the destination at the end of the Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Auburntown, TN Porch entertainment

Auburntown, TN Porch entertainment

The town of Auburntown in Cannon County, might be small, but they know how to have a good time. They are best known for their two big annual Fish Frys and their Red Apple Days. They have smaller fish fry events most every weekend through the summer and fall, and on this day a local band was performing from the front porch of this old mansion, while many of the townsfolk sat on either side of the street (TN145) in their lawn chairs.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

George Dickel Distillery - Cascade Hollow, TN

George Dickel Distillery - Cascade Hollow, TN

There are two well known Tennessee Whiskey Distilleries in Tennessee. While Jack Daniels is certainly more famous, they also have a more crowded parking lot and a longer wait to go on a tour. On a beautiful summer day on a Friday early afternoon, there were three of us along the tour.

George Dickel moved to the area and bought the local Cascade Hollow whiskey in 1884. He ran the operation until 1888 and died in 1894. Then, Dickel's wife and her brother who was also an operating partner ran the business until U.S. Prohibition caused them to shut down.

Fast forward to 1958 and the brand's rightsholder decided to reopen the distillery. Their new distillery was down the road and downstream from the original location. (The original distillery is still there and on the National Register of Historic Places but it is not open to the public or viewable from the street.) For the full story:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Captain Thomas Ryman Statue - Nashville, TN

Captain Thomas Ryman Statue - Nashville, TN

This statue by Sculptor Steve Shields of Captain Thomas Ryman is located in downtown Nashville in front of the modern entrance to Ryman Auditorium. Ryman donated the money to build the Union Gospel Tabernacle, which was named in his honor after his death.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Glen Echo - Franklin, TN

Glen Echo - Franklin, TN

From Wikipedia:

Glen Echo, also known as Harpeth Hall, is a property in Franklin, TN that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. It is a former plantation house that is now the centerpiece and administrative office of the Battle Ground Academy's Upper School campus.

It was designed and/or built c. 1828 by Joseph Ruff for Williamson County's first Circuit Judge Thomas Stuart. The structure includes Federal architecture. The NRHP listing was for an area of 14 acres with just one contributing building.

It was one of about thirty surviving antebellum "significant brick and frame residences" built in Williamson County that were centers of slave plantations. It is one of several of these located "on the rich farmland surrounding Franklin"; others were the Dr. Hezekiah Oden House, the Franklin Hardeman House and the Samuel Glass House, the Thomas Brown House, the Stokely Davis House, the Beverly Toon House and the Samuel S. Marten House.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

DeKalb County Courthouse - Smithville, TN

DeKalb County Courthouse - Smithville, TN

Every summer, the DeKalb County Courthouse is home to the nationally acclaimed Smithville's Fiddler's Jamboree. The courthouse was built in 1971 at a cost of $750,000.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cowan, TN Passenger Depot

Cowan, TN Passenger Depot (2013)

The Cowan Depot is wood frame and built in 1904 for the NC&StL railway. When in use, it was originally on the other side of the still-in-use-by-CSX tracks but moved further away to its current location in 1976. It's built in a railroad Gothic style architecture and has been repainted to the original green and yellow colors. The building is in the process of renovation. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. Every year, the town has a Summer Weekend festival called Cowan Depot Days with the goal of raising money to further restore the station.

Cowan is located on the historic line that runs from Nashville to Chattanooga and is perhaps best known by railfans as the last stop before ascending Cumberland Mountain and the picturesque but almost inaccessible Cumberland Mountain Tunnel entrance. CSX keeps pusher cars on hand to help trains make the incline to the top.

Steam Locomotive #1 has been the highlight of the Cowan Railroad Museum for many years. It's a Columbia Type 2-4-2. It was built by Porter in 1920 as a tenderless Tank style locomotive and converted with a small homemade tender and had the saddle tank removed. The cab used to contain a small coal bunker. The Engine was functional around Charleston, SC until 1964 when it was sold to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Then, was sold to the Cowan museum in 1979.

To see my other photos from the Depot Museum, look here:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Site of Big Rock Court - Chattanooga

Big Rock Court, site of

For years, motorists around Chattanooga have seen a Big Rock with the words Big Rock painted on it. This is the story.

During the golden age of automobile travel, Joe Light opened a motel along Cummings Highway. This highway is located at the base of Lookout Mountain near the Tennessee River. Until I-24 paralleled the old highway, it was the only way that connected the city to the west, which meant lots of travelers passed through here. The most notable geologic landmark at this site was the Big Rock. Thus, the motel was called Big Rock Court and "Big Rock Court" was painted on the rock. Even though it has been several decades, the makeshift sign is still legible.

Big Rock Court wasn't the best motel around. It gained the reputation by the locals as a den of gambling. After a shooting, a police raid finally led to the Court's demise.

This spot was still a prime location for tourists, so in 1977 the Super Water Slide opened for business. Advertised as the largest water slide in the world, the fiberglass slide zig-zagged down the hillside. The popularity faded until the summer hot-spot went out of business in 1989 and the slide relocated to Tullahoma where I find no record of it. With no use, this property became covered in kudzu.

Local conservationist John C. Wilson let the group now known as the Lookout Mountain Land Trust to purchase the land and turn it into a park. Trash was removed, overgrowth was cut down and the park named after Wilson has opened. You can read Wilson's story on preserving the park in this article. Today, you can hike a trail, have a picnic, climb the old stairs to where Joe Light's house was, or get a better view of the Big Rock Court sign that beckons motorists to this day.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Arcade Restaurant Neon Sign - Memphis, TN

Arcade Restaurant Neon Sign - Memphis, TN

Located along Main St. in Memphis, the iconic Arcade Restaurant is the oldest in Memphis. Read more here: