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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Burial Site of Gov. Ray Blanton

Burial Site of Gov. Ray Blanton

A friend of mine recently found a map of the United States where for every state had a description about the worst thing about that state. (For instance, where he lived was the nerdiest state.) Tennessee to my amazement was listed as the most corrupt political state. My first reaction was to think that a place like Louisiana or Illinois should have that distinction. However, the more I thought about it, stories like the Tennessee Waltz scandal a few years ago to Boss Crump early in the last century came to mind. But perhaps the top of the list in my mind is Governor Blanton.

Ray Blanton was Tennessee's 44th Governor serving from 1975-79. Despite anything he may have done in that role, he is best remembered for the selling of pardons. While he was never formally charged for this scandal, the FBI did prosecute him for the illegal selling of liquor licenses. The story of the pardon scandal was turned into a book that was named after the lady who was the head of the TN Board of Pardons and paroles. "Marie" was eventually turned into a movie with attorney Fred Thompson portraying himself and launching his movie career.

Blanton died in 1996 and is buried at the cemetery at the Shiloh Church near his hometown of Adamsvile. The Shiloh church is a small area of private property surrounded by the Shiloh National Civil War Battlefield. While the Obelisk is not mentioned as a point of interest along the driving tour, the church is as the congregation predates the war.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Shoal Creek Bridge - Florence, AL

Shoal Creek Bridge

The old Shoal Creek Bridge was opened in 1925 to cross Shoal Creek on the East Side of Florence, AL.

If you were to look at the stripes painted on the deck of the bridge, it wouldn't look like it's wide enough to carry two lanes of traffic, but back in the 20's, it did, although it was a tight squeeze. When that was no longer sufficient, a second two-lane bridge was opened (In the 1960's, I think) to parallel this one. These days, there's too much traffic along US43 & US72, so in 2007 a six lane bridge was built. When the newest bridge was completed, the second bridge was removed and this one was gated up but kept for posterity, I suppose. The Camelback through truss design has a total of five similar length spans with each reaching about 160 ft. for a total span of about 800 ft.

Shoal Creek Bridge

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Don't Look, Ethyl!

"Don't Look Ethel!"

...But it's too late, she'd already been incensed.

Two Meerkats seen at the Birmingham Zoo.

(For those of you not familiar with the reference at the title of this post, It's a comedy song by Ray Stevens from the 70s. The video, which was released several years later was filmed in Nashville, and some of it at Belmont University.)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Desert Horned Lizard - Nashville Zoo

Desert Horned Lizard

Seen at the Nashville Zoo in the Unseen World building.

If you like zoo animals, or are a fan of the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, I invite you to check out my Nashville Zoo website gallery:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lynnville, TN Depot Museum & Steam Locomotive

Lynnville, TN Depot Museum & Locomotive

Lynnville is a small town in Giles County where L&N operated a Passenger depot. That depot was torn down when passenger service stopped in town. However, a few decades later, a new replica was built to be operated as a museum.

The highlighted locomotive at the museum is a 1927 Prairie type 2-6-2 Baldwin Steam Locomotive. It hauled freight for the St. Louis & O'Fallon railroad at first and was retired after 37 years in use. in 1997, the museum acquired it.

Other trains cars at the museum include a 1923 Pullman Passenger Coach (which inside has a sub-museum honoring nearby Milky Way Farms), a 1950 wood deck flat car, and a 1971 caboose. To see all of the Lynnville Depot Museum pictures, Click here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Roy Acuff & Minnie Pearl share a Ryman Auditorium Bench

Roy Acuff & Minnie Pearl share a Ryman Auditorium Bench

This statue is inside the lobby of Ryman Auditorium, downtown Nashville.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

St. John's Episcopal Church

St. John's Episcopal Church

Here is a famous example of a plantation church, and perhaps the last one built in Tennessee. This church was the dream of Leonidas Polk who was a farmer, Episcopal bishop, second cousin of the President, and Confederate General. Polk gave of his land, oversaw the construction and financed it for the three years it was being built. It was completed in 1842 with the bell placed in the tower in 1849.

Polk wrote, "This church is of chaste and simple Gothic architecture...capable of seating...about five hundred people." The building is 41 feet wide, 65 feet long, the walls are sixteen inches thick and there are four buttresses on each side with a tall stained glass window between them.

Today, there is no congregation that meets here anymore since 1915. However, once a year there is a service on Whitsunday, which is seven weeks after Easter. It is located on old Highway US43 (today TN243) in an area that used to be known as Ashwood but today is just between Columbia and Mt. Pleasant in Maury County. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. See the Historical Marker here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Old Stone Fort Bridge - Manchester, TN

Old Stone Fort Bridge - Manchester, TN

This Pratt through truss bridge crosses the Duck River at Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park in Manchester, TN and is used to connect the campground to the main road. The one land bridge with a wooden driving surface was built in 1906 and crossed the Elk River at Dabbs Ford (Which as far as I can tell was about 20 miles away to the southeast). The bridge was relocated here to cross the Duck River in 1971 and was then rehabilitated in 2009. My favorite feature is the etched pattern at the top, as you don't see that too often around here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Advertising Barn at Sequoyah Caverns

The Advertising Barn at Sequoyah Caverns (2012)

This advertising barn is located at the Ellis Homestead at Sequoyah Caverns. Clark Byars, who was the famous Rock City barn painter, later in life was hired to commercially operate the caverns. He painted ads for both tourist destinations on this barn.

I was last here in 2006. Since then, this barn has suffered some wind damage. I don't know this for certain, but I would imagine the storms that devastated parts of Alabama on April 27, 2011 did this damage. That storm was best known for the large Tornado that ripped through Tuscaloosa. It progressed later on Sand Mountain (past the house of one of my wife's relatives, about five miles from here) and kept going to Trenton, GA. There is more obvious damage on the other side, but still the strip of the metal roof with the S in Sequoyah was deposited about 100 feet away.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Presidents Day: Abraham Lincoln Statue - Hodgenville, KY

Abraham Lincoln Statue B&W - Hodgenville, KY

One of the more famous Lincoln statues around, this was sculpted by Adolph Alexander Weinman and placed in the Hodgenville, KY town square center in 1909. Lincoln was born just down the road in 1809, and the statue was unveiled for the 100th anniversary of his birth, with his son, Robert Todd Lincoln, in attendance. The 6 foot tall bronze statue depicts Lincoln sitting in an Empire-style chair. Today, the statue is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lincoln Statue, Town Square, Hodgenville, Ky

Abraham Lincoln Statue Back Detail- Hodgenville, KY

Saturday, February 16, 2013

An old stretch of the Cummings Highway at Jonas Bluff

An old stretch of the Cummings Highway at Jonas Bluff

It used to be that if you lived west of Chattanooga, it was a challenge to get to the city. In the earliest days of automobile travel, local judge and advocate for improving the highways Will Cummings wanted to create a route for the people to get through the area. The base of Lookout Mountain extends all the way down to the Tennessee River, so making a road was a difficult task, but the railroads had already done it. By some point in the late 1910's or early 20's, the highway along the bluff was completed, and highways were ready to connect Chattanooga to Nashville, Memphis, Huntsville and Birmingham.

This stretch of highway is still scenic to this day, although more people take the interstate through the area, the old road may be even more scenic as it is higher from the water. Also, if you look closely, there a copper-turned-green marker dedicated to Will Cummings embedded in the rock. I've driven right by this marker a dozen times and not noticed it - and if you've ever driven through here, I bet you did, too!

This was quite an old highway by modern standards. At some point, the highway had to be widened to 2 lanes in either direction. Originally, the highway hugged the edge of bluff. At this spot, the mountain is a little bit concave and that made for three curves in a very short stretch. When the roadway was improved, this small little spot was bypassed altogether. For anyone out there who is a roadgeek like me, this small preservation gives us a glimpse to what the roads were like nine decades ago! The newer segment still dates to 1935 and is known as the Bridge at Cummings Highway Ravine.

This is going to be a case of "do as I say and not as I do" because I would actually recommend you not stop here. I actually stopped here so I could get a photo of the standard historical marker over on the left off in the distance. There's a gate preventing people from driving here, but the highway dept. must have some utility purpose here as there's a little storage structure just off the edge of the photo to the right. Between the gate and rapidly moving traffic was barely enough space for my car, so there's a danger element to it. And backing out - you'd have to make sure nobody's coming for as far as you can see!

Friday, February 15, 2013

African Elephant - Nashville Zoo

African Elephant - Nashville Zoo

If you go to the Nashville Zoo elephant habitat and pass up one of the better overlooks for a partially obstructed view such as this one, you can pretend you're on a safari. And then, you see someone walking behind the elephant and it spoils the mood.

If you like zoo animals, or are a fan of the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, I invite you to check out my Nashville Zoo website gallery:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thompson's Station L&N Caboose

Thompson's Station L&N Caboose

Happy Valentines Day. I don't have any Cupids to show you, so I at least found something red in color.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bucksnort Market & Deli

Bucksnort Market & Deli

a few years back, a friend of mine was stopped here (or one of the other stops at the Bucksnort exit) He heard a trucker on the phone, and that side of the conversation was:

"Yeah, I'm in Bucksnort"
"You heard me right. Buck. Snort."

I took this photo back in 2009 and the building was for sale then. Who knows if there's been a change.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Old Railroad Bridge Vehicle Entrance - Florence, AL

The Old Railroad Bridge View #4 Old Vehicle Entrance - Florence, AL

The Old Railroad Bridge dates back over 140 years as an important crossing of the Tennessee River between Florence and Sheffield in The Shoals area of Alabama.

Back in 1840, the first bridge at this location opened. It significantly damaged by tornadoes and storms all through the 1850's and eventually that bridge was destroyed during the Civil War.

In 1870, the Memphis & Charleston Railroad decide to build another bridge at this spot. Over the next 120 years, there is quite a lengthy history about who got to use the bridge and changes to the bridges configuration. I'll hit some of the highlights, but below I'll link to a thorough history.

Originally, there was not a method for tall ships to go through, so a drawbridge was installed in 1872 along the northern end. A new drawbridge was installed in 1906. In 1948, the drawbridge was replaced with a turn span was installed. (When the bridge was open to tall ship, this span pivoted or rotated counter-clockwise and had stone piers to rest upon.) In 1962, this segment was changed again to a lift bridge, raising to 350 feet of clearance over the water. In 1988, all railroads abandoned the bridge and the lift section was completely removed.

This bridge not only carried railroads on the top, but also had a lower deck for vehicular traffic. This closed in 1939 with the opening of the O'Neal Bridge.

Other railroads that used this bridge were Virginia & Georgia; Nashville, Florence & Sheffield; L&N; Southern; Around 1903, a streetcar service also used the rails to get passengers from one side to the other and it lasted until 1933.

The complete history is here:

In 1990, a preservation society began in an effort to restore the bridge. The old railroad bed leading to the upper portion of the bridge now has a large gate in front of it, so you can look across it, but go no further. Down below, the access area was cleaned up and the wood that had been rotting for over 50 years was replaced. Today, this lower deck is a pedestrian bridge where you can walk about 1500 feet to where the segment is missing, and then you have to turn around.

Here are all 9 photos in my set

Finally, the Library of Congress has some photos of this bridge dating back to 1976

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sperry-Smith House - Sparta, TN

Sperry-Smith House

Now that's one cool old house!
Sparta, TN on Maple St. (Which I believe used to be an alignment of US70, TN1, and the Memphis-to-Bristol Highway.)
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stones River Battlefield: Tree at McFadden Cemetery

SRNB: Tree at McFadden Cemetery

The Stones River National Battlefield is a park in Murfreesboro, TN along the Stones River in Rutherford County, TN. The park commemorates the Civil War battle that took place here on Dec. 31, 1862 and Jan. 2, 1863. The park was established using public and private funds, with significant help from the NCStL railway, and is now under the oversight of the U.S. National Park Service.

The Mcfadden Cemetery and farm is a disjointed area separated from the rest of the park. While it is nearby, it's the only part of the National Battlefield located to the east of Broad St.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Louisville Zoo Lioness

Louisville Zoo Lioness

This is why they invented nice telephoto lenses - so you can take a photo like this without having to hop the fence into their habitat! This African Lion is at the Louisville Zoo.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Old Barn - Allisona, TN

Old Barn - Allisona, TN

The small town of Allisona and this barn are seen along US31A in Williamson County, TN. The relatively never looking metal roof seems out of place with the wood that seems to be looses in spots.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dix's Plaza Motor Lodge - Lebanon, TN

Dix's Plaza Motor Lodge

319 W Main St. Lebanon, TN - also U.S. 70
with the nice chipped paint of the shish-kabob sign

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cheatham County Courthouse, Ashland City, TN

Cheatham County Courthouse, Ashland City, TN

The front of the Courthouse which is seen here was built in 1914. An older section of the building is behind the front part and was built in 1869. If you view large, the words "Cheatham County Courthouse" appear above the front of the building. There is no "town square" in Ashland City, but this building faces the intersection on TN12 and TN49/249. Added to the N.R.H.P. in 1976.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Suggestion: Free! Survey of Historic Tennessee Bridges

Market Street Bridge A
[Market Street Bridge in Chattanooga, one of over 160 in this book.]

Everyone likes something for free, right? Well, several years ago, the Tennessee Department of Transportation made a book about the historic bridges of Tennessee. They only printed a limited number of copies, but I suppose they wanted people to see all the effort that went into their research as they documented all of the historic bridges across the state, some of which weren't standing anymore by the time the book was completed. Now, that book can be downloaded in PDF form. The book is several hundred pages long, and it goes very much in depth.

Tennessee's Survey Report For Historic Highway Bridges

Once you go to the link, you'll see the book has been divided into chapters. Chapter one goes through the criteria of which bridges qualified for the study. Chapter two is a history of bridge building in Tennessee, but really it's also a history of highways in Tennessee. Chapter three sorts the bridges by manufacturer. Chapters four and five sort the bridges by what they were built from. Chapter 6 which is rather length describes each historic bridge, chronicling over 160 with a photo of each. If you like bridges or highway history, it's more than worth the free you'll get it for.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rebel Truck Stop Neon Sign - Mt. Pleasant, TN

Rebel Truck Stop

The owners of this sign and the truck stop where it's located have fallen victim to highway US43 being routed out of Mt. Pleasant, TN. US43 is the road from Columbia to Lawrenceburg and several years ago a modern two-lane divided highway replaced the older historic route which followed "Jacksons Military Road" into Mt. Pleasant. Today, Tennessee state highway 243 follows this route.

Also, how often do you see a tap dancing pig?

Monday, February 4, 2013

New Gallery: Tennessee Central Railway Museum

Tennessee Central #52

Who wants to see pictures of trains? Apparently a lot of people do. Well, if you live in Nashville, there's one place to go to get your fill, and that's at the Tennessee Central Railway Museum. Located just a few blocks east of downtown at the old Tennessee Central railyard, the museum exhibits are located inside the old master mechanics office building. Included here are several model trains and scenery and vintage TC photos. Outside are several pieces of rolling stock with locomotives, cabooses, passenger cars and freight cars, in various states of repair. Also, the Nashville & Eastern railway will sometimes park their Engines here, such as one of the days I visited. If you like trains, there's lots to see!

See the Gallery by clicking this link!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

See Rock City Barn (with a Bit of Snow)

See Rock City (and a Bit of Snow)

A small snowstorm rolled through the midstate late on Thursday (1/31/13). Since I was in the area, I decided to check out the closest actively maintained Rock City barn to where I live. This barn is seen along US41A in Rutherford County south of Eagleville.

I now have a total to 79 different Rock City Barns I have photographed and uploaded to Flickr in my Rock City Barns set. People often ask me how I've found so many of them. I have drawn from many resources such as books and web sites and sometimes luck, but there's not really one "go to" place to find them all. Well, now on my website, I have tried to create a one stop source for the locations of all of the barns I've been to. On my Map of Rock City Barns page, I have plotted each barn on a Google Map.

See Rock City Closeup (and a Bit of Snow)