Home     Daily Blog     Galleries     Maps     Contact

Friday, January 31, 2014

Sparta, TN NC&StL Depot

Sparta, TN NC&StL Depot

Built in 1917 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now is a business.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Albino Bennett’s Wallaby - Nashville Zoo

Albino Bennett’s Wallaby - Nashville Zoo

The Wallabies came to the Nashville Zoo in 2010, but may be easy to miss. They are located in the Critter Encounter (Petting Zoo) area of the park. The females are brown, but the male is an albino.

Bennett’s wallabies are smaller relatives to the kangaroo, and are native to southeastern portions of Australia including Tasmania. They are also known as red-necked wallabies due to the reddish fur on the back of the neck and shoulders. Wallabies are crepuscular meaning they are most active at twilight and dusk. Bennett’s wallabies have an average life span of 20 years and their conservation status is stable.

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:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Knoxville Sunsphere!

The Knoxville Sunsphere!

The Sunsphere was built for the 1982 World's Fair. It was meant to be a source of civic pride, but hasn't quite turned out that way.

It's been opened and closed as an observation deck back and forth ever since then, and for now it seems to be open for the near future. Here's an idea of what you can see from up there:

Soon after taking this photo, I got on the elevator to go to the top. Joining me on the elevator was a local in his young 20's. He told me he had lived in Knoxville his whole life and he hadn't been up there since he was a little kid, and he just felt like it on this day. I had been up once before in 1994.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Thomas Hughes Library - Rugby, TN

Thomas Hughes Library - Rugby, TN

Rugby is a small community along the Cumberland Plateau in Morgan County, founded by British Immigrants in 1880. The Rugby Colony was designed to be a utopian community, but the design failed in less than a decade. Still a few townspeople and their descendants lived in the area over the next several decades. In the 1960s, residents, friends and descendants of Rugby began restoring the original design and layout of the community, preserving surviving structures and reconstructing others.

Built in 1882, the Thomas Hughes Library is the most unchanged of all the buildings in Rugby. The library's 7,000 volumes were collected primarily by Boston bookseller Estes & Lauriat, and donated to Rugby's Library and Reading Room Society with the stipulation they name the new library for Hughes. The library still contains most of its original collection, the oldest volume of which dates to 1687.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Frankfort Railroad Tunnel

Frankfort Railroad Tunnel

The 518 foot Franklin Tunnel was built by the Lexington & Frankfort Railroad in 1849. Most everything on the east side of the old part of town is up an old hill, including Main Street which is above the tunnel. However, the tracks follow the river out of town. (The old Kentucky State Arsenal is up there, too and can barely be seen through the trees.)

The tunnel today is part of the RJ Corman line as two trains a day pass through here. Many older tunnels get bigger over time and this one is no exception. RJ Corman acquired the line in 2004 and raised the tunnel in 2007 from a height of 16' to 20.5'.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hiwassee Union Baptist Church (River view)

Hiwassee Union Baptist Church

This church building which dates back to 1899 is located along the bank of the Hiwassee River in Reliance, TN. Every other photo I have seen of this building is from the street side, however my photo was taken while I was riding along the Hiwsasee River Excursion Train. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Reliance Historic District.

Here is the text of the historic marker provided by the Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association from their Religious Heritage Trail:
Erected about 1899 through the joint effort of the Hiwassee Union Missionary Baptist Church and the local Masonic Lodge, this two-story, frame structure served as a multi-use community building. The upper floor was for lodge meetings while the first floor served as the church meeting hall. The first floor was also used as a schoolhouse for a brief time.
Originally the first floor had a full front porch. The porch was enclosed in 1927 when the church added two small meeting rooms, leaving a narrow entry way into the main hall. The church and the lodge moved to new facilities less than one mile to the east on Highway 30. It was founded on October 8, 1848 as Hiwassee Union Baptist, and then in 1859 as Sweetwater Baptist Association. In 1861 the Ocoee Baptist Association was formed, so they asked to be released from Sweetwater's Association and joined the Ocoee Baptist Association. Hiwassee Union Baptist went on the join Eastanallee Baptist Assocation in 1871 and finally it joined the Polk Baptist Association in 1921.

(One more note about the excursion train: I could have sworn I heard the guide say this place was a filming location for the movie Deliverance, but I can't find any confirmation of that anywhere else. Has anyone else heard that?)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Faded Ad Mural - Lexington, TN

Faded Ad Mural - Lexington, TN

This is seen along Church St (US412) across the street from the county courthouse in Lexington. The mural features ads for multiple things.
Princess Theater, which is on the other side of the square
Double Cola - Grapette
Sloans Linament
Plus a couple of more faded or painted over sections for Grove's and Bluebird. Then, there's also a large painting of an old car and a driver that now looks headless.
This mural is on the side of a building that used to be Stanford-Hatchett Livery

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Campbell County Courthouse - Jacksboro, TN

Campbell County Courthouse - Jacksboro, TN

Jacksboro became the Campbell County Seat in 1808 and the town was named after Judge John Jack who donated the land for the town. A vote was held in 1903 to relocate the county seat to the nearby larger city LaFollette, but after a year they moved back to this spot where a courthouse was built in 1885. That courthouse burned down in 1926.

This courthouse was completed later in 1926. This building was made of brick, stone, steel and concrete since the previous courthouse had burned down. It is quite an imposing two story structure when looking up at it from the lower level of main street(Old US25W/TN9). a wing was added on the left (western side) in 1964.

Along the top in middle is a relief carving of an eagle. The rest of the top is covered in metal. This metal covering was not there 15 years ago, and I suspect it's there to protect the roof, yet with a cutout showing the ornamental part.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In the News: 8 New Tennessee listings on the National Register of Historic Places

Wartburg Presbyterian Church

The Wartburg Presbyterian Church in Morgan County (Pictured above) is one of eight new entries on the National Register of Historic Places in Tennessee. Here are the others:

Beaty General Merchandise Store in Fentress County.

Greenback Depot in Loudon County.

M.A. Helm House in McMinn County.

Rocky Springs Presbyterian Church in Sevier County.

Sears Roebuck and Co. Catalog Distribution Center and Retail Store In Shelby County.

Westmoreland Water Wheel and Gatepost in Knox County.

Crockett Tavern Museum in Hamblen County. (Seen below)

Crockett Tavern (replica) - Morristown, TN

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Things that are now gone: Old Ruby Falls / Jefferson Island Salt Barn

See Ruby Falls and Jefferson Island Salt Barn

This barn along highway TN 58 in Roane County has two advertisements, one for Ruby Falls and the other for Jefferson Island Salt. This might be the best preserved Jefferson Island Salt, as they were only painted in the 50's and not many remain.

See it's old location on a map

Jefferson Island Salt

See Ruby Falls

Monday, January 20, 2014

Betty Boop Carved Tree

Betty Boop Carved Tree

There are several places I've been around the area to see carved trees, but usually they get turned into a black bear or other somesuch local animal. The animal that is seen here is Betty Boop's dog who is named Pudgy or Bimbo depending on your source. (I'm not a Betty Boop expert.) This tree carving is located on the grounds of a place called The Fun Store which seemed located in the middle of nowhere. It was along highway TN127 (Hillsboro-Viola Rd.) in Coffee County (not far from the Warren County line.)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Midway Plantation Slave Cemetery - Brentwood, TN

Midway Plantation Slave Cemetery - Brentwood, TN

Murray Lane is a nice Boulevard in Brentwood. If you've never been to the area, one thing you wouldn't be expecting is a small cemetery surrounded by a small stone gate between the lanes of traffic. The slaves here worked on a plantation named Midway. In the early 90s, the city of Brentwood restored the area to help preserve their memory.

On the marker on the day of my visit was a pile of two dozen roses and a handwritten note, both of which had been there a long time. All that was legible on the note were the words "Thank You." Each grave is marked with a simple unlabeled stone.

On the marker are these words:
The City of Brentwood restored this cemetery to honor the unsung heroes who came from Africa and labored on the Midway Plantation in the 1850's. They survived the horrors of the middle passage; endured the shackles of slavery; raised their children; honored their parents and worked hard to make America a better place. We deeply appreciate their contributions to the world.

Nearby, there;s also a historical marker which reads:
A short distance east of this marker is the site of the Midway Plantation slave cemetery which holds the remains of many of the African Americans who labored on the 1,000 acre plantation in the bonds of slavery during the mid-nineteenth century. By 1850 some 38 slaves toiled on the plantation and through their efforts Lysander McGavock's Midway thrived and boasted of 600 acres of improved farmland and produced cash crops of corn and tobacco.

UPDATE: Recently, I got this message from Ruth D'Eredita:
"Brent thank you for this. Dr. Ouida Collins and I have been helping take care of this cemetery. It's so touching when we find roses, and memorial stones, and notes to our slave ancestors there, as you documented. We are working with the state and city now to further provide for the care of this cemetery, perhaps with a maintenance fund. The cemetery has a wonderful story that we know so many would appreciate, and we think it's a must-stop for all the tourists who enjoy our area."

Midway Plantation Slave Cemetery - Brentwood, TN

Saturday, January 18, 2014

May 2010 flood damage: Centerville Bridge

May 2010 flood damage: Centerville Bridge

This Bridge was built in 1913 to carry traffic over the Duck River on the west side of Centerville. I think I heard that Minnie Pearl would talk about walking across this bridge as a child.

In 1970, a new bridge was built and Tennessee highway 50 was rerouted across the river causing this one to be closed.

When the huge storms brought over a foot of rainfall in the first weekend of May 2010, floods destroyed this and to my knowledge two other bridges in Middle Tennessee. (the other two are the old bridge at Hurricane Mills and an old Harpeth River bridge on Old Harding Rd in SW Davidson Co.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Church with the Cannonball - Greeneville, TN

The Church with the Cannonball - Greeneville, TN

The Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church building found itself in the middle of the Civil War and ended up having a cannonball lodged between some bricks. On either side of the front door are some lamps. A foot or two above the lamp on the right, or about 8-10 feet off the ground is a small cannonball which became lodged as it must have hit the brick just right. A state of Tennessee Historic Marker adds this info:

Rev. Isaac S. Bonham founded the congregation with thirty charter members in 1841. The present church was begun in 1860 on land purchased from Andrew Johnson by Rev. John P. Holtsinger. The church was shelled on September 4, 1864, the day Confederate General John H. Morgan was killed across the street. This is also the site where The American Presbyterian, Cumberland Presbyterian newspaper, was published in the 1850's by Rev. Joseph P. Dobson.

A second marker placed by the church on the front of the building adds this:

Founded 1841. The war between the states saw the church used as a hospital and stable. The cannon ball in the front wall was fired there September 4, 1864 during the skirmish in which General John H. Morgan lost his life.

The Church with the Cannonball - Greeneville, TN

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Athenaeum - Columbia, TN

The Athenaeum - Columbia, TN

from Wikipedia:

The Athenaeum Rectory is a historic building in Columbia, Tennessee that features both Gothic and Moorish architectural elements. Completed in 1837, the building originally served as the rectory for The Columbia Female Institute and as the residence of the school's first president, the Reverend Franklin Gillette Smith. The structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

The structure, later to be known as the Athenaeum Rectory, was originally intended to be the residence of Samuel Polk Walker, nephew of President James K. Polk. Construction commenced in 1835.

By the time construction was completed in 1837, the intended resident had been changed to the Reverend Franklin Gillette Smith who came to Tennessee to serve as the president of The Columbia Female Institute, an Episcopal school for female students.
In 1851, the Rev. Smith resigned from the Columbia Female Institute due to alleged improprieties with a student. The authority who asked for his resignation was the Institute's co-founder, Rt. Rev. James Hervey Otey, the first Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee. Stung by a general backlash from Smith's local supporters, Bishop Otey moved his family and his administrative base to Memphis, Tennessee, which continued as the seat of Tennessee's bishops, informally and formally, until 1982, when the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee was created.

Still committed to his educational mission, Rev. Smith soon founded the Columbia Athenaeum School on property adjacent to the Columbia Female Institute. The Athenaeum Rectory continued to serve as the residence for the Smith family and housed reception areas for the newly founded school. The Columbia Athenaeum continued to operate until 1903. During its 52 years of operation, the school developed a national reputation for the breadth and quality of its curriculum. Reverend Smith believed that the intelligence level of women was equivalent to that of men and offered courses that were traditionally available to only men such as calculus, physics, and marine biology. The main school complex consisted of twelve buildings.
Once the school had ceased operation, the property was sold by the Smith heirs. The facilities housed a local high school until 1914. In 1915, the City of Columbia constructed a new high school on the property.
Members of the Smith family continued to occupy the Athenaeum Rectory until 1973 when it was donated to the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities for use by the residents of Maury County. Today, the rectory is operated as a historic house museum. In addition, a small cottage that Reverend Smith used as a study survives to this day. Events are held twice annually which recreate the educational experiences of young women at the female institute.

The Athenaeum Rectory features elements from a variety of architectural styles: Gothic, Moorish, Greek Revival, Italianate, and others. The structure was designed by Adolphus Heiman, an architect of the early 19th century who designed many buildings in the Middle Tennessee area. Nathan Vaught, a master builder from Maury County, was responsible for construction of the building.
Today, it is open for tours:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Southern Locomotives: Old and Older

Southern Locomotives: Old and Older

Railfest is the annual celebration at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga, TN. This year as part of the celebration, they offered Southern Railway 2-8-0 #630 as an excursion round trip to Cleveland, TN. This locomotive was built in 1904 by the American Locomotive Company Richmond Works. It was restored to operation at TVRM in 2011 and is now part of Norfolk Southern's 21st Century Steam program.

Also as part of the activities of the 2013 Railfest, Southern Railway's EMD FP7 #6133 made a visit. This Diesel locomotive built in 1950 was used to pull their excursion, the Missionary Ridge Local throughout the weekend. It is normally on display at the North Carolina Transportation Museum which offers this writeup:
"Southern Railway #6133: The locomotive was built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors in 1950. This FP-7, operated by the Southern Railway, was the property of the CNO&TP (Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific). The FP designation meant the locomotive could be used for passenger or freight trains, using a 567-B 16 cylinder prime mover, generating 1500 horsepower. These were F-7 freight locomotives with a steam generator placed at the rear of the locomotive, increasing body length by four feet. FP-7 locomotives were used on small branch-line passenger trains throughout the Southern Railway System. By the late 1970s, there were very few FP-7s left on the roster due to Southern eliminating many passenger trains. The 5-8 left were used for excursion trains as part of the Steam Program begun in 1966. The 6133 was donated to the NCTHC in 1980, and restored by the volunteers to its original green/ imitation aluminum paint scheme. It is used to pull the train ride around the property when needed."

I took more photos of #6133 than I have posted to flickr. You can also see quite a thorough collection of photos of the highlighted steam locomotive Southern #630, the Missionary Ridge Local with #6133, and other rolling stock on the grounds. This gallery is on my website here:

Also, I took video and put it on youtube: All the steam footage, plus the Missionary Ridge local: youtu.be/AhCCpvO41iM

Monday, January 13, 2014

State of Franklin Replica Capitol - Greeneville, TN

State of Franklin Replica Capitol

If you've never heard the story, before Tennessee was a state, a small region in what is now eastern Tennessee formed a state named in honor of Benjamin Franklin. This state never became an official United State and after about 4 years it disbanded. The Capitol was Greeneville and this replica is a reproduction of a building in the main intersection of town which was believed to be the Capitol Building from 1785 to 1788.

The original Capitol was preserved for many years. You can see a picture of it HERE. The building was carefully dismantled and reassembled in Nashville in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Celebration. However, the logs never made it back to Greeneville. That made it the lost capitol of the lost state of Franklin.

Inside the State of Franklin Replica Capitol

Sunday, January 12, 2014

First Baptist Church (Black & White) - Downtown Knoxville

First Baptist Church (Black & White) - Downtown Knoxville

The building was completed in 1924 with a Baroque Classic style. Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

For the full story, their website has a detailed document about the building:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Andrew Johnson Birthplace Replica - Greeneville, TN

Andrew Johnson Birthplace Replica - Greeneville, TN

Andrew Johnson was born in a small structure in Mordecai Park in Raleigh, NC. That building which was probably built in the late 1700's was part of a complex known as Casso's Inn. Andrew Johnson's father worked as a stable keeper at that hotel and his mother was a weaver.

According to tradition, Johnson was born in the loft of the Inn's kitchen. As the story goes, on Dec. 29, 1808 a wedding party was in progress at the tavern and those festivities were interrupted by the news of the birth of the baby. The bride then went to the cabin at the back of the inn to visit with the baby Andrew and his mother.

In Greeneville, TN, the town where Johnson called home most of his life, a replica of the birthplace was built in 1999. It's located next to his early home, a statue of him, and the visitor center which has encased his tailor shop. This building represents an important part of President Johnson's story and speaks of a man who began his life in humble conditions but later became the seventeenth president.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Waterfowl in Winter: The head of a Canadian Goose

Waterfowl in Winter: The head of a Canadian Goose

A few years ago on a day like today when it was a couple of days after a big snow and freeze, the sun came out and I went to Percy Priest Lake by the dam. this has been my favorite place to feed the ducks and is now my favorite place to photograph them.

Canadian Geese don't seem to be as scared of people as the mallards. They don't run away when I get close.

If you like this type of thing, about 50 of my photos from this day have been posted to my website in the gallery "Waterfowl in Winter"

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Elvis Statue - Beale Street, Memphis, TN

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

This statue is located in downtown Memphis along Beale Street along the block between the Orpheum Theater and the toruisty district.

This statue is also noticeably free from graffiti or other kinds of desecration. This statue has a better security system than my house.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Norfolk Southern Locomotive #3052 with Operation Lifesaver logo

The other day I was going through some of my railroad photos and came across this:

Railfest 2013: NS #3052

Seen at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum for Railfest 2013, this NS Locomotive with the Operation Lifesaver logo on the side was on a static display.

Railfest 2013: NS #3052

As went through some older photos, I saw this.

Norfolk Southern Locomotive #3052

This photo was taken in Sept. 2012 and I saw the same #3052 live and in action. By coincidence, I was also at the TN Valley Rail Museum when I saw it go by.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Rock City's Fairyland Caverns: Snow White

Rock City's Fairyland Caverns: Snow White

After spending some time trying to see seven states and various unusual rock formations, visitors to Rock City finish their visit along the Enchanted Trail by enjoying the sights of Fairyland Cavern.

When Fairyland Caverns first opened, most of the scenes consisted of their gnome collection and related decor fitting a fairy tale theme, all moved into a new section of the park that needed a purpose. Then in the late 40s, Rock City hired Atlanta artist Jessie Sanders to create the glow-in-the-dark scenes from popular fairy tales and these are the scenes that still exist today.

The first thing Mrs. Sanders crafted was a deer that stands next to Snow White. From there, she created individual displays for different tales. Other than the first two scenes (which depict a mother reading bedtime stories to the children and then the children asleep with "Dream Faries" flittering about) she was given free reign to create the scenes as inspiration struck. As the figures were cast from her Atlanta studio, they would be shipped to Rock City and installed after another artist, Marcus Lilly, would paint the backdrops. Jessie's husband Charles also helped create many of the props that are seen today.

After Jessie Sanders spent about a decade creating all of the vistas along the main hallway, she envisioned her most elaborate display in 1958. Mother Goose's Village was to be a large room with a miniature mountain, adorned by a castle, and many fairy tale characters seemlessly placed together to save the attraction's best for last. After six years of construction, the fantastic finale was opened to the public in May, 1964 delighting young and old since.

On my website, I have created a gallery entitled "A Tour of Rock City" where I not only have tried to photograph each individual display in Fairyland Caverns and much of Mother Goose's Village, but all the other wondrous scenes at the beloved tourist attraction.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cave Springs Church

Cave Springs Church

Sulphur Spring road - Maury County, TN

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Deteriorating Barn

Deteriorating Barn

What makes this one seem so unusual is how most of the wood along the bottom has disappeared with the rotting moving up to the middle. Yet, the wood that makes up the frame seems to be intact. There is some snow on the roof and a little on the ground. Seen somewhere in Marshall County, TN

Friday, January 3, 2014

City of Tuscumbia Department of Untilities

City of Tuscumbia Department of Untilities

I don't know whether to call this a neon sign or a billboard, but for now I'm calling it a neon billboard. The neon here shows a natural gas flame, a water faucet, and a hand that gives off lightning bolts. (the latter is a utility that my local company does not offer, sadly.)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dorothy at Little River Railroad

Dorothy at Little River Railroad

Dorothy is a Shay 2147 (Class C, 70 ton) locomotive built in 1909. It is displayed prominently at the Little River Railroad museum in Townsend, TN. It was bought by LRR in 1916 and used until it wrecked in 1931.

Little River Railroad's primary purpose was to haul timber from Maryville to Elkmont. They continued until the late 30's when they sold their timber land to be part of the Smoky Mountain National Park.


The name Dorothy wasn't given until after the museum opened in the early 80s

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Welcomes You

Tennessee Welcomes You

Tennessee Welcomes You to 2014!

This is the Welcome to Tennessee sign seen at most Interstates and major highways that lead into the state. This one has been around long enough that some of the paint along the southern border is starting to peel.

I took this photo along I-24 right where it dips into Georgia to the west of Chattanooga. It was the day before Thanksgiving and traffic was going at such a snail's pace that I could set up and get the shot I wanted.