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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mallard not afraid of the Giant Octopus

Mallard not afraid of the Giant Octopus

"Big Jim" Sidwell worked at his family's furniture business in Murfreesboro, TN. He was looking for an outlet for his creativity when he and his family visiited Goofy Golf on a vaction to Florida. In his backyard, he built a large dnosaur out of wood and wire mesh, and then another and another.

In 1961, he opened Jolly Golf in Gatlinburg with many of his creations. He went on to build more mini golf parks in Daytona, Marietta and Lake of the Ozarks. When other attractions which also wanted his dinosaurs came calling, he started a fiberglass dinosaur factory in Murfreesboro. In the late 70's his tourist attraction vision expanded to a theme park in Pigeon Forge called Magic World.

At the gateway of the smokies, tourist attractions come and go, but one of the Sidwell family's parks is still open. Pigeon Forge exploded in popularity once Gatlinburg couldn't expand anymore. Adventure Golf along US441 looks like it remains popular after all these years. It has a charm I like that many oif the newer large corporate parks don't have.

There's a large Dinosaur by the entrance and a shark in the pond right by the 18h hole. Perhaps the most noticable thing is the oversized octopus in another pond and one of its many tentacles is raised up in the air!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

St. Vincent de Paul Chapel

St. Vincent de Paul Chapel

This is the Church building on the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth campus. The Catholic campus is located just outside of Bardstown, KY in Nelson County

Monday, August 29, 2011

John W. Thomas statue - Centennial Park

John W. Thomas statue

A statue was made of him because he helped to found the Centennial Exposition.

Etched on the statue's Base:

John W. Thomas
A Native of Nashville
Forty-eight years in the service
of the Nashville, Chattanooga &
St. Louis Railway;
President for twenty-two years.
President of the
Tennessee Centennial Exposition,
which resulted in securing
to Nashville this park.
A worthy man in all the lines of life,
An efficient man of affairs,
An upright and eminent citizen,
A Christian and a gentleman.
A friend and a brother
This memorial is erected by the employees of the
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway

Another etching of the John W. Thomas statue

This one is on the northwest side of the statue - or the right side if you are looking at the statue

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sacred Harp Singing

Sacred Harp Singing

Sacred Harp singing is a form of church music started in the early 19th century in the northeast, which went on to be popular in the south. It's an art form that came close to dying out, but has had a resurgence in popularity due in part to the Internet. The locals who enjoy this singing have formed the Harpeth Valley Sacred Harp Singers and you can find out more about them here: sacredharpnashville.org/

Here's what's going on in the picture: Chairs are arranged to form a square. That song's leader stands in the middle and faces the largest group who sings the melody. On one side are the basses, who are opposite from the trebles, with the altos in the back. The book they use is a modern reprint of a book dating back to 1844 called The Sacred Harp. The music is sung a cappella, which means they don't use instruments, but with everyone singing they can belt out the notes really loud. The leader and some of the singers wave their hand in a pattern to help keep the rhythm. This meetup was at the 2011 Wilson County Fair in Lebanon, TN.

Oh, and one final note: In the ad in the top right corner, it looks like D.T. McCall is singing along!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cassowary: The World's Deadliest Bird!

Cassowary: The World's Deadliest Bird!

The Cassowary is a bird from Australia with the reputation of easily being able to kill a human. Not only does it have a sharp beak... Not only does it have a pointy hard thing on top of it's head... It also has a really long and sharp claw on its inner toe. This bird is also a Ratite, which means it's a cousin of the Ostirch, well known as one of Nature's stupid creatures. Luckily, this potent and small-brained creature can't fly so that the zoo doesn't have to put it behind a high fence.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dunbar Cave Bandshell - Clarksville, TN

Dunbar Cave Bandshell

Dunbar Cave is a scenic State Natural Area in the middle of a residential area in Clarksville, but a hundred years ago it was a rural tourist destination.

At one time, a resort hotel operated here. More significantly, the opening of the cave became a popular party spot for big bands in the 1930's and 40's. (So popular, that Roy Acuff bought the area in 1948).

Caves tend to maintain a nice cool temperature, and having lots of people hang out by the entrance would be a cool place on a hot summer evening, plus the rock formations around the entrance make for a nice bandshell. (The stage wasn't natural, nor the floor, but the rock ceiling was.) The springs from the cave were dammed to make the picturesque Swan Lake.

The typical picture of the area shows the triple arches of the white concrete. As soon as I got here, I went down there, and there was nothing there. It looks like it should be an entrance, but it isn't. Instead, it's purpose from the big band era was to hold up the concrete dance floor. The reason the arched area was made accessible was so you could walk the nature trail along to the other side of the lake. The actual entrance is of course above the arches, or from this view, to the left.

Today, Dunbar Cave is owned by the state and operated by the State Park service. As of right now, the actual cave itself is closed while researchers study the white nose syndrome which has been plaguing bats in many caves around the country.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Benjamin Moore painter at Hard Rock Cafe

Benjamin Moore painter

Several years ago, this painting in Downtown Nashville along 2nd Ave. was part of an advertising sign for Benjamin Moore paint store. When the Hard Rock Cafe moved in, they refurbished the sign.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tennessee State Fair - Photo Caption Contest

09 TN State Fair #81: Petting Zoo Camels

The Tennessee State Fair's Facebook page is running a "Caption This" contest (And they happen to be using a photo I took for them). The winner will get four fair passes. To enter, go here:

Tennessee State Fair Caption Contest

Old Tennessee State Prison

Old Tennessee State Prison version C

This interesting building was built in 1898 and was modeled after the fortress-like structure in Auburn, NY. The main building in the front and center is an administration building. The prison has 800 cells and was built for a cost of $500,000. Due to deterioration, it was closed in 1992 to coincide with the opeing of Riverbend prison.

Since it's closing, it's been a popular spot for films ranging from Ernest Goes to Jail to The Green Mile.

I've seen post cards of this place from the 1910s and 20s. It seems like an odd thing to make a post card for. What are you going to say? Wish you were here!

I've heard it's also a popular place for ghost tours. At the same time the interior is quite unsafe. I've heard reports of security keeping people from getting close to the building, bit nobody was on duty the day I was here. To the right of the prison is the Cumberland River and to the left and behind it is Briley Pkwy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

James Park Home - Downtown Knoxville

James Park Home - Downtown Knoxville

Apparently this old house on the National Register of Historic Places in downtown Knoxville was considered so important that when Whittle Communications built their downtown campus (which is now the Baker Federal Courthouse) they acquired the entire block except for this house on the corner.)

According to the marker:

The Foundation for this house was laid by Governor John Sevier on a block bought from Knoxville founder James White in 1797. Jmaes Park, pioneer merchant and Knoxville's Second mayor, completed the main house in 1812. His son, Dr. James Park occupied the house until 1912. It subsequently housed a War Work Shop and tearoom for the Red Cross, the Reaves-Leach infirmary, and the Knoxville Academy of Medicine. The Gulf & Ohio Railways renovated the house in 2006.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sewanee Natural Bridge

Sewanee Natural Bridge

From Wikipedia:
Sewanee Natural Bridge in Franklin County, Tennessee, is a 25 feet (8 m) high natural sandstone arch with a span of 50 feet (15 m). It is essentially a giant sinkhole partially eroded to form a large stone bridge. A wet weather spring located behind the bridge in a rock cave probably contributed to the erosion forming the arch. It is called the Sewanee Natural Bridge as it was once owned by the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. It is a 3 acre (12,000 m²) designated state natural area.

Today, the Area is considered part of the South Cumberland State Park. You can't get to the bottom if you are afraid of heights as you have to walk over the bridge, which is about 3 ft. wide, to get to the other side where you can scale down it. To get here, you'd follow the signs off highway TN56.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Huntsville, TN Town Spring

Huntsville, TN Town Spring

Whenever I visit any small town large enough to have a town square, I usually get out of my car and walk around for a while. Usually, I have a mental list of the buildings I want to see and photograph, but I walk around long enough that I make sure there is nothing important I missed. Every once in a while you find something you don't expect to see in the central business district of a city.

Huntsville is a small town, but is large enough to be the county seat of Scott County. A short boulevard leads to the courthouse, with various important buildings surrounding it. Behind the courthouse is a parking lot, and behind that is a small park with a picnic table and an sign with an arrow pointing to the town spring, which I decided to check out.

Normally, when I think of a spring that a town has centered around, I think of the Tennessee cities of Jamestown or Greeneville where water bubbles out of the ground. However, as I walked down the large concrete stairs, I was pleasantly surprised to see a 10 foot tall waterfall. There's enough water flowing here that you could expect a small creek to be the source of the water here, but apparently the water is underground before it gets to this point. Then, the water flows out to become a small tributary of the New River. It's a nice cool spot on a hot summer day.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Niota, TN Train Depot

Niota, TN Train Depot

The Niota Depot is the oldest surviving train depot in Tennessee. It was constructed in 1854 as part of the East Tennessee & Georgia Railroad. At the time, Niota was known as Mouse Creek. Today, the depot serves as the Niota city hall. Niota is located in McMinn County, just north of Athens.

Back when the town was named Mouse Creek, there was another city on the other side of Knoxville knwon as Mossy Creek. With the similar town names, it wasn't uncommon for mail to get delivered to the wrong town. In 1897, there was a prominent wedding in town where the families had ordered a lot of ice cream for the guests, but was delivered to the wrong town. This was the last straw and both towns changed their name. Niota was the name of an Indian chief. (Mossy Creek became Jefferson City.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fall Creek Falls swinging bridge

Fall Creek Falls swinging bridge

Located close to the Dunn Nature Center, this bridge crosses Cane Creek very close to the cascades. When I was younger, this was the start of the way to get to the main falls - cross this bridge and begin the couple mile trek. Now that I'm older, I start at the parking lot at the main overlook.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

When You See ROCK CITY...

When You See ROCK CITY...

When You See
You See The Best

Vines are covering the When and many of the lower boards have been replaced, but this is an easy Rock City Barn to catch. This barn is on highway US 31E in Hart County, KY and is facing southbound traffic.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Inside Union Station: The Ceiling

Inside Union Station HDR 1: Ceiling

I don't dabble in HDR all too often, but there are certain places where I feel that it works with what I am trying to accomplish. Inside Nashville's majestic 1900 Union Station felt like one such place I should use it.

Much of the building is majestic, and the main lobby is about 4 to 5 stories tall. Trains ceased coming to the station in 1979, but in 1990 it was restored and opened as a luxury hotel. Much of the ceiling is stained glass.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

El Rancho Court

El Rancho Court

El Rancho Court Motel just north of the town square in Trenton, GA. Trenton is the county seat of Dade County, GA and this is along highway U.S. 11, which is the old route to connect Birmingham and Chattanooga. This highway is much less frequently used after the opening of Interstate 59 and this motel was for sale. This is about 20 miles south of Chattanooga. My wife and I stayed here after spending the day at Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, Al.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wave Swinger ride blurred motion

Wave Swinger ride blurred motion

The Wilson County Fair opened over the weekend. Every year it has one of the highest attendance figures in the state. The Midway seems to be a never-ending cavalcade of rides. On my last visit, I saw three ferris wheels!

Seen here is the Wave Swinger along the Midway from the 2006 Wilson County Fair. With a 3.2 Second Exposure you can barely see the riders. A slowly moving "zipper" ride is in the background.

P.S. I miss the Tennessee Waltz at Opryland. Every theme park has one of these but the Tennessee Waltz name was perfect.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Burma Shave Signs

Burma Shave Signs

Every Second
Without fail
Some store
Rings up
Another sale

I suspect most anybody younger than me, as well as a lot of people my age, have never heard of Burma-Shave signs. For those of you that don't know, back during the golden age of automobile travel, the Burma-Shave people would place their advertising signs all over the place. (This was at a time when you could put ads all over everything over every last stretch of highway.) The brief humorous message was split into 6 tiny signs spaced sequentially along the roadside, such as the first three seen here.

The advertising gimmick was discontinued in the 60's at a time where interstates became more common, as well as the Highway Beautification Act cut down on these types of signs. These days, you're not going to see any originals along the sides of the old highways. (I'm sure many were removed in accordance with the Act, and those that survived were probably stolen as collectors items.) The ones seen here are modern reproductions in rural Robertson County at a house that had several old fashioned ads about their property.

For the other Jingles, Burma-Shave is still in business, check their website here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ragan's Friendly Neighbor Store - Dickson, TN

Ragan's Friendly Neighbor Store

a.k.a. Ragan's Arcade
Was a movie theater in the 50's, I think it was called the Dickson Theater.

I was hoping to buy some friendly neighbors, but all they had for sale was furniture. They did have some neat old pictures of town all over the walls.

Today, you can't even tell this Main St. location was a movie theater, except by the outer appearance. The best I could tell, the interior had been completely gutted several decades ago. Today, there are a few smaller stores visited via a central walkway (Hence the Arcade.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Inside Loretta Lynn's kitchen

Inside Loretta Lynn's kitchen

OK, Loretta Lynn hasn't built a shrine to herself inside her own kitchen. Instead in this case, Loretta Lynn's Kitchen is a restaurant and gift shop right off the interstate at the exit you'd take to get to Hurricane Mills and the Loretta Lynn Dude Ranch. Consider it a foretaste of what you can see 8 miles up the road.

The smaller dining room seen here has a small bit of Loretta Lynn memorabilia, including a life-size mannequin. It's a fraction of the Loretta Lynn experience for none of the cost (unless you eat at the buffet.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

JFG Coffee sign at night - Downtown Knoxville

JFG Coffee sign at night

JFG Coffee was started in Knoxville in 1919. For many decades, they were located in several buildings in the Jackson Avenue Warehouse District, an area that today is known as Knoxville's Old City.

The main factory building has a large JFG sign atop it. The sign has the company's slogan atop a steaming cup of coffee. The sign still lights up at nights, although many of the bulbs are out.

JFG is now owned by Luzienne Tea and not located here anymore. This area of Old City is a popular spot for loft apartments and this building is today the JFG Flats.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jackson Co. Courthouse - Sylva, NC

Today, we will be heading out to the other side of the Smokies...

Jackson Co. Courthouse - Sylva, NC

The Jackson County Courthouse was built in 1913 overlooking the small town of Sylva, NC. It's about 75 stair steps from the courthouse down to the rest of the town, where the steps line up with Main St. Some people say this is the most photographed courthouse in North Carolina, and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

On the day, I was here, the courthouse was being renovated. A large building was added to the back of the historic Courthouse while the front is preserved and this will be the town library. Then, on the next day, the dome was removed so that it could be renovated. It was placed back a few days later.

Jackson Co. Courthouse - Sylva, NC

On a personal note, my mom visited this courthouse a few years ago on a conference at Western Carolina Universtiy. After seeing the photo, it became the top of my North Carolina bucket list. This past summer as my wife and I were the ones to escort her to the conference, I got my wish as was able to see it.

Jackson Co. Courthouse - Sylva, NC

Jackson Co. Courthouse & Confederate Statue- Sylva, NC Jackson Co. Courthouse - Sylva, NC

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kentucky Ice Cream

Kentucky Ice Cream

Kentuckians like their Ice Cream. I think I saw more Ice Cream shops on a weekend trip to KY that I've seen in all my Tennessee travels.

Of particular note for having a neat sign was this old beauty of a neon sign and ice cream cone which dangles enticingly over Main St. in Horse Cave, KY

Monday, August 8, 2011

Parthenon Detail Replica and Ruins - Centennial Park

Parthenon detail replica

Inside Nashville's Parthenon is this smaller replica of Greek Mythology figures that adorns the top of one of the sides.

Nashville Parthenon "Ruins"

some of the "ruins" from the original castings of the Parthenon in Centennial Park. These ruins now are on the inside of the Parthenon.

Most of the time the Parthenon is open to the public, or during regular operating house, it is open as an inexpensive museum. On the lower floor, which is mostly an art gallery, you're not allowed to take pictures. However, in the large room, you are allowed to take pictures of this, or more likely, the Athena statue.

TIP: Don't want to pay the $4 to get in? Go to the Parthenon website, and look under the Events Calendar. Sometimes, they have free concerts inside.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Stevenson, AL Train Depot

Stevenson, AL Train Depot (Version A)

One of the older and busier train stations in the area, this historic depot was built in 1872 and has active train tracks on either side.

Originally, a one story depot was constructed here in 1853 when tracks first came into town. When that building burned, it was replaced by this brick one in 1872.

During the Civil War, Stevenson was a hub of activity. Troops skirmished here and the town changed sides several times, although it was mostly under Union control. Troops occupied the town and a large refugee camp sprang up between here and Ft. Harker a quarter mile away.

Tens of thousands of soldiers, horses, wagons, prisoners of war, refugees, wounded and others passed through the city during the summer and fall of 1863 around the time of the Battles of Chattanooga and Chickamauga. Harpers Weekly noting the juncture of East-West and North-South rail lines here called Steveson one of the seven most important cities of the South.

After the war, the Dept and the brick hotel built next door, also between the tracks continued as the center of life in Stevenson. Trains stopped here at mealtimes and passengers ate in the hotel dining rooms. Other passengers spent the night here. It was said that the hotel is so close to the tracks that the trains opened the hotel windows and pulled the covers off the beds.

The Depot and Hotel were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. However, the depot still needed to be saved. A group of citizens save the depot from deconstruction during the 1976 bicentennial when the last railroad office closed. In June of 1982, a community museum opened here after renovation.

If you choose to visit the museum, there's plenty of parking, but you do have to cross live tracks. I consider this the standard view of the depot, from the parking side.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Grundy County Courthouse - Altamont, TN

Grundy County Courthouse 1

Grundy County has one of the newest courthouses in the state. The previous courthouse was built in 1885, but was burned by an arsonist on May 3, 1990. This new courthouse was opened in April 1996. It's a two story brick building with a projected pedimented portico front entrance. There is also a low hip roof with a center octagonal cupola. Directly in front of the main entrance is tree-lined Pelham Rd.

Grundy County Courthouse 5: Octagonal Cupola

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blurred Motion Seattle Wheel at Dusk

Blurred motion Seattle Wheel at dusk 1

The Williamson County Fair opens today and runs through next weekend. The Midway rides are provided by Drew Expositions, and in the past they have brought the Seattle Wheel, a ride first developed for the Seattle World's Fair. This Ferris Wheel spins faster than a normal Ferris wheel providing a free fall experience you normally don't get on such a ride. (Or so I've been told. I just photograph them, I don't ride them.)

Although this ride has been at the Williamson Fair in the past, I don't see this ride listed on their midway page this year - so if you want to go to the fair just because I've suggested you ride this, you might want to confirm whether it's going to be there this year or not.

This year's fair has a Western theme.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Stone Bridge Replica - Fayetteville, TN

Stone Bridge Replica

One of the most important spots in the history of Fayetteville, TN was the old Stone Bridge. That bridge was built in 1861 at a length of 450 feet over the Elk River, saved from destruction in the Civil War, but was finally tumbled by flooding in 1969.

In 1997, the city established Stone Bridge Memorial Park, and in June, 2000 unveiled this 36 foot replica about 1000 feet from the original.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Zion Presbyterian Church

Zion Presbyterian Church

Between 1805 and 1808, Scottish-Irish settlers arrived in Maury County from South Carolina. Among them were descendants of John Knox, who organized and built a log church in 1807 before building homes for their families.

That log church stood near the center of a tract of land purchased from the heirs of Gen. Nathaniel Greene, who received 25,000 acres in Maury County for his service during the Revolutionary War.

The present building was completed in 1849 and was built my members and slaves who cut the wood and crafted the bricks at the site. Measuring 80 by 50 feet, it is three stories tall with a recessed porch and built in a Greek Revival style.

An old cemetery with 1500 graves surrounds the building. Among those buried here amid the shrubs and trees are fifteen Revolutionary War soldiers, three from the War of 1812, one from the Seminole War of 1836 and sixty Confederate soldiers.

Today, it is the oldest active congregation in the county and the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Historical Marker:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Restored Acworth, GA Coke Mural

Restored Acworth, GA Coke Mural

The areas aroung atlanta are of course Coke country. I'm sure there used to be hundreds of Coca-Cola wall ads all around, and some of them have been preserved by being restores, such as this one in Acworth, GA. There are two restored Coke murals in Acworth and this one is on the side of the tracks with fewer businesses.

Restored Acworth, GA Coke Mural

At one time at this spot was another mural for Mother's Self-Rising Flour occupying the entire side of the building, so now the restored coke mural appears to take up a corner of that other ad.

Restored Acworth, GA Coke Mural

Monday, August 1, 2011

Louisville City Hall

Louisville City Hall

Perhaps the most achitecturally interesting government building in downtown Louisville, the City Hall was constructed from 1870-73 (it says 1871 along the front.) It was built with Indiana Limestone at a cost of $464,778. while the interior has been completely overhauled a few times, the exterior remains unchanged except for basic renovation.

The architectural style is a blend of Italianate and Second Empire style. The pediment over the main entrance features a relief of the Louisville city seal plus a steam train with the word "Progress" inscribed on it. Atop many of the windows are engravings of livestock heads. The building is three stories tall plus a raised basement.

The most prominent feature is the clock tower. The original tower burned after only a couple of years but this one was rebuilt in 1876. the tower is 195 feet tall and has a clock face on all four sides, plus a mansard roof. Inside the tower used to be a three ton bell that rang until 1964 when the clock broke. (it was repaired but soon broke again).

Today, it's primary function is housing the metro council offices and chambers. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.