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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Liberty Mule (and the name L. Woodard)

The Liberty Mule (and the name L. Woodard)

The Liberty Mule, also known as the Allen Bluff Mule, has been a landmark, a mystery and a source of Civic Pride for the residents of Liberty, TN for over a century.

For the residents of the Tiny DeKalb County town, the mule had been there for as long as anyone could remember. For a long time, what nobody could remember is who put it there in the first place. On a large bluff near town many years ago someone scaled it several feet off the ground and painted the black mule, which included the word MULE above it. Even still, every so often, someone goes up there to repaint it, sometimes even changing the color, and nobody really knows who does that either. It's original color is black, the way it is today, but the previous color was red.

For a while, there was a story that someone had a pet mule die from falling off the cliff and this was a tribute. Another speculation was it was an advertisement for a mule trading company in town. Neither story really made sense. However, one story that worked is based on a name that's also up there: "L. Woodard." That would have been a local resident named Lavendar Woodard, and the people that knew him thought he was the kind of guy that would do such a thing. As it turns out, he may have repainted it, and he certainly added his name nearby but he wasn't the first. It was still a mystery.

As it turns out, the answer may have been hiding in plain sight. The first painter of the mule may have been Dr. Wayne T. Robinson who was 21 at the time it was painted in 1906 but moved to Dallas without telling anybody he painted it. Fast forward several decades to 1957, Dr. Robinson wrote a series of articles of area history in the local paper. In one of those articles he focused on a nearby cave but casually added that he climbed the bluff to paint out of coal tar the mule to resemble the then-popular comic strip character Maude the Mule. Apparently, nobody remembered this admission and it stayed a mystery for nearly another half century until 2006 when the local county historian made the discovery and then wrote this article in the same newspaper.

Today, highway US70 (as well as TN96, TN53 and TN26) passes right past this bluff and through the town of Liberty. About 10 years ago, the Tennessee Department of Transportation decided to widen the two lane highway to four lanes and the Liberty Mule was in danger of being dynamited for the project. The townspeople started a letter writing campaign which worked and the new lanes were shifted enough to save the landmark. Now, the Mule even has a website where you can buy a t-shirt.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Limestone Quarry Cave & Lake - Erin, TN

Limestone Quarry Cave & Lake #4 - Erin, TN

Around 1870, the Lime industry began to flourish in Erin and Houston County. Several Limekilns were built in the area and several still remain. Limestone was loaded into the fire chambers of these kilns and was converted into a fine lime powder. It was the county's biggest industry until the 1940's when the high quality limestone was depleted.

The man-made cave you see here is one of the places where the Limestone was excavated. This hill / mountain was quarried for a long time. Then, as they continued to dig, they struck a spring, which caused the cave to flood the way it is today. (The water really is that shade of blue - no photoshopping on my part to get that color!) According to legend, as the water started to fill the cave rapidly, the crew had to get out quickly and left all of their equipment down there.

The cave has three openings and two of them are easy to get to. As you drive highway TN49 (Main Street in Erin) look for the Piggly Wiggly, and you can see the lake behind it. Behind the Piggly Wiggly, there are some parking spaces and a picnic table right near one of the cave openings. From these parking spaces, you can already see one cave opening, but it's not the best one to use. (There's a No Trespassing sign at this entrance, probably because of safety concerns. Picture #4 of the series shows the view from behind the sign.) Instead, you'll want to take the path that leads around to the right for the best entrance and view. from the entrance, if you turn around and look across the outside part of the lake, you can see one of the intact limekilns.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Old Gym - Vanderbilt University

Old Gym - Vanderbilt University

From Wikipedia:
Old Gym is one of the surviving Victorian buildings that characterized the early style of the Vanderbilt University campus in Nashville, TN. The Old Gym was originally a gymnasium, later served as the Fine Arts Building, and currently houses the university's admissions office.

The gymnasium was completed in 1880 and featured an indoor running track and considerable gymnastic equipment. At the time, it was one of the best equipped gymnasiums in the southern United States. The exterior of the building remains fairly untouched while the interior space has been modified through the years and uses of the building.

The Old Gym is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building consisted of a foundation of Tennessee limestone with a structure of wooden trusses and walls of natural finished red brick. The Mansard roof was covered with slate shingles. Some of the original gymnastic equipment included a leaping rig, a vaulting board, rowing machine, parallel bars, trapeze ropes, Indian clubs, dumb bells and a walnut chest expander.

In 1962 the Old Gym was renovated and made into the Fine Arts Building by Warfield and Associates. The remodeling project included the removal of the second-floor running track and the addition of heating and cooling throughout the building.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Meigs County Courthouse Front - Decatur, TN

Meigs County Courthouse Front - Decatur, TN

Facing the town square, the Meigs County Courthouse was completed in 1904 at a cost of $4,000 after the previous one burned down. Many design elements of the previous brick courthouse were recreated here, such as the arched entrance, a stocky tower and stone trimmed window lintels. Other features include low pyramidal roof with gables on each face.

This courthouse has seen significant change in the last two decades. Most notably is the addition and modern entrance which faces highway TN58. The new section is wide instead of long, and both portions back up to each other with a small glass connector. Cosmetically the brick and stone foundation is a matching color. Much of the stonework around the windows on the historic section used to be painted white but not anymore. For several decades, the clocks on the tower were missing but now they have been restored. The courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Gran Dale - Nashville

Gran Dale - Nashville

This historic house just off of Murfreesboro Rd was built in 1859 and its most notable feature is the central Portico with two large columns. Now vacant, it once held the offices for Nashboro Village in Antioch.

If you like reading about ghost stories and hauntings, there are some good ones regarding this house. Click on the photo to go to the flickr page and read through the comments.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Princess Theater - Decatur, AL

Princess Theater - Decatur, AL

Building dates back to 1887 as a livery stable. Became a silent film playhouse in 1919. Underwent a major face-lift in 1941 with the Art Deco style. It was purchased by the city in 1978 and has become a performing arts venue.

For the full history:

Monday, February 20, 2017

Love, Peace and Chicken Grease

Love, Peace and Chicken Grease

Love, Peace and Chicken Grease
Miss Polly's Soul City Cafe
Beale St. - Memphis

Miss Polly's Soul City Cafe

Would you like to see more photos from Beale street? Check out the Beale Street gallery

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Harrison Mayes: Get Right With God

Harrison Mayes:  Get Right With God

Kentuckyan Harrison Mayes survived a mining accident and spent much of the rest of his life making crosses like this one and placing them on major roads all throughout the country. This sign is in Smyrna, TN and located on the Old Nashville Highway, which is a 150+ year old road connecting Nashville to Murfreesboro and eventually became part of the Dixie Highway. These signs, made of concrete, usually weigh 1400 pounds.

On one side of the cross, it reads "Jesus is Coming Soon." The other side says "Get Right With God." Until recently, the GET was covered up and replaced with MADE. I am not sure who or why it was changed originally or restored to the original.

For more info on Harrison Mayes and his signs, Look here.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Stones River National Battlefield

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.

To see all of my Stones River Battlefield pictures, Look Here.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Charles Jackson Circus Museum - Hopkinsville, KY

Charles Jackson Circus Museum - Hopkinsville, KY

Located in Downtown Hopkinsville, this is one of three museums all together, along with the Pennyroyal Museum and the Woody Winfree Fire-Transportation Museum


Thursday, February 16, 2017

View of Cordell Hull Lake from Tater Knob

View of Cordell Hull Lake from Tater Knob

Tater Knob is a mountain in Smith County. At the top is an observation deck which provides a scenic overlook of Cordell Hull Lake and Dam.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

John Wesley Work Home at Fisk University

John Wesley Work Home at Fisk University

According to the historic marker:
In 1937, this Victorian-style house became the home of John W. Work III. A teacher and composer for 39 years, he served his alma mater by enriching the Fisk musical traditions. Director of the Jubilee Singers, Work III, a serious composer, completed more than 100 compositions. He was not only an acclaimed composer and choral conductor, but also a recognized author, educator and ethnomusicologist.

His father, John W. Work II, composer of the Fisk alma mater, "The Gold and Blue," was known as rescuer and preservationist of Negro religious music. Work II's book, Folk Songs of the American Negro, was one of the first extensive studies on the origin and development of religious African-American music be a descendant of an ex-slave who lived during the time many of the songs has their beginnings.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel - Happy Valentine's Day

Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel

Heartbreak Hotel is a hotel owned and operated by the same people that operate Graceland. Located along Elvis Presley Blvd. (US51) in Memphis, it is conveniently across the street from Graceland. Based on older pictures I have seen, they must have used to have an old-fashioned neon sign and I'm sad that I have missed it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Old Mill - Pigeon Forge

The Old Mill - Pigeon Forge (version 2)

In the early 1800s, this gristmill was built on the Little Pigeon river in what was then a small mountain community of Pigeon Forge. The mill, which was built to make meal and flour for the locals still does that today. The Old Mill even furnished electricity for the town until 1935.

In 1830, William Love dammed the Little Pigeon and started construction on the mill using 40' long yellow Poplar logs.

In those days, the mill was the hub of local activity and now, 180 years later is one of the most popular tourist spots around the Smoky Mountains. The adjoining restaurant is also one of the most popular in Pigeon Forge. The Old Mill is also on the National Register of Historic Places

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Nashville Skyline at Night in 2007

Nashville Skyline attempt #3

This is what the Nashville skyline looked like a decade ago.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Manufacturers Railway Boxcar #4606

Manufacturers Railway Boxcar #4606

As of the day I took this photo in Oct, 2014, this Boxcar was sitting in an empty lot that used to be the Gordonsville Motor Company. When in business, their office was the former Carthage Junction passenger depot, but that was relocated to a new home in 2014. Also, there had been a caboose at this location. Since everything else has moved, this also could be gone by now - I don't know. The lot is located along highway TN53 just off the I-40 exit.

According to Wikipedia, Manufacturers Railway (MRS) was owned by Anheuser-Busch and used to transport their product. They shut down in 2011.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Holden Hardware neon sign - Murfreesboro, TN

Holden Hardware - Murfreesboro, TN

In the Murfreesboro, TN town square across from the courthouse on the west side. Holden Hardware has been there since at least the 50's.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Hernando DeSoto Bridge at Dusk - Memphis

Hernando DeSoto Bridge at Dusk - Memphis

This iconic bridge carries Interstate 40 over the Mississippi river near downtown Memphis, TN. Built in 1973, this two span steel through arch bridge has a total length of 1.8 miles. The length of the bridge covered by the arches is 1800 feet. This view is taken from Tom Lee Park.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

In the news: Home Office of Elvis Presley’s former manager in Nashville being dismantled

Elvis in Nashville - Col. Tom Parker's Office

The former home of Col. Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's former manager is being taken down. The home has been along Gallatin Pike (US31E) in Madison and has been up for sale for many years with no buyers.

See this video for the complete story.