Uncover the past. Walk in the footsteps of pioneers, Native Americans and Civil War soldiers. Unplug from what is and relive what was. Listen and experience stories that can only be Made in Tennessee.
CIVIL RIGHTS TRAIL
Tennessee has 12 stops on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail featuring the stories of the brave men and women who, through peaceful protests and legal actions, secured their civil rights. See artifacts, videos and interactive exhibits at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. The Museum memorialized the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lost his life. Walk among Witness Walls to see school desegregation, marches, meetings, Freedom Rides, lunch counter sit-ins and economic boycotts represented on the walls in Nashville. Continue the journey to East Tennessee to learn about the courageous stories of the Clinton 12, who bravely fought for equal access to public education.
AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY
Tennessee is full of the stories of struggle and triumphs of African Americans who helped shape and build our country. Once known by many as a stop on the Underground Railroad, descend through hidden passageways where slaves looking for a free life were harbored at Slave Haven Underground Museum in Memphis. The boyhood home of Roots’ author Alex Haley in Henning. Exhibits feature his childhood memorabilia and references to people who inspired the characters. Beck Cultural Center in Knoxville is one of the most extensive in African American history. Visitors can see the vast ways African Americans influenced political and social culture and made cultural and scientific achievements.
NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY
Learn the history of Tennessee’s Native Americans when visiting Shiloh Indian Mounds near Savannah, Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park near Jackson or Red Clay Historic Park in Cleveland. Wynnewood State Historic Site in Castalian Springs is the largest log structure in Tennessee and used to be a stagecoach inn. The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail tells the story of the removal of Cherokee Indians from their ancestral homelands. Native Americans are honored at Cherokee Removal Memorial Park and Museum in Birchwood, which includes a memorial, scenic overlook and visitor’s center. Visitors to Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Vonore learn about the life of Sequoyah, who was a soldier, statesman and creator of the Cherokee writing system.
CIVIL WAR TRAILS
Heroic and heartbreaking stories permeate battle sites of the Civil War. Carnton, a private home-turned-field hospital, provided land for the Confederate cemetery after the Battle of Franklin. Learn about one of the Civil War’s costly struggles at Shiloh National Military Park in Shiloh, where cannons blast at living history demonstrations. Trace the movements of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga campaigns from Point Park. Chattanooga was where the nation’s highest military award for valor was first presented during the Civil War. Visit the new National Medal of Honor Heritage Center to learn the courage stories of Medal of Honor recipients. Don’t miss Fort Defiance in Clarksville, Fort Donelson National Battlefield in Dover and Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, home to the Hazen Brigade Monument, the oldest American Civil War monument in an original battlefield location.
A PRESIDENTIAL STATE
Three American presidents called Tennessee home. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, home of the 7th president, is just minutes from downtown Nashville. The national historic landmark features more than 30 historic buildings, interpretive programs, a seasonal wagon tour, walking trails and beautiful gardens. Tour the museum and only surviving home of 11th president James K. Polk in Columbia, where he began his legal and political career. Visit the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site and National Cemetery in picturesque Greeneville, which includes his homestead and tailor shop, and learn about his struggle to unite a nation.
Stroll Tennessee’s oldest town, Jonesborough, with a historic tour on its preserved Main Street and stop by the International Storytelling Center. The Museum of Appalachia, a Smithsonian-Affiliate living history museum in Clinton, tells stories through folk art, musical instruments, baskets, quilts and artifacts. Be sure to stop at the restaurant, which specializes in Southern Appalachian cooking, and the gift shop featuring locally made products. The American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge tells the story of a “secret city” and Tennessee’s role in the Manhattan Project. Named after Thomas Hughes’ alma mater in England, Rugby was originally conceived as a class-free, agricultural community. Today, Historic Rugby is a living community and public history site offering a museum, historic building tours, lodging, shopping and full-service restaurant.
Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Petros was a maximum-security prison housing criminal such as James Earl Ray, Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassin. Now, groups can tour the prison guided by former prison guards, enjoy lunch at the Warden’s Table and taste moonshine distilled on site. Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge offers visitors an in-depth look at American crime history, crime prevention, forensic science and law enforcement. The interactive Rhea County Heritage and Scopes Trial Museum tells the story of the “trial of the century” regarding a then newly passed Tennessee law that made teaching evolution in public schools illegal.
The Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma is a one-of-a-kind aviation museum that traces the Beechcraft legacy with more than 35 aircraft, original historic artifacts and treasures. Cannonsburgh Village in Murfreesboro features an 1800s village, working blacksmith shop, period homes, a schoolhouse, church and the World’s Largest Cedar Bucket. Tennessee State Museum in Nashville tells the state’s story through artifacts, exhibits, personal stories and interactive experiences. In Historic Granville, visit the Sutton Homestead & Pioneer Village, stroll through the T.B. Sutton General Store, listen to Sutton Ole Time Music Hour, a bluegrass concert every Saturday night.
Tennessee is home to seven music genres. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol tells the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions that made the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers famous; the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium are coveted stages in Nashville; the world’s only Tina Turner Museum at Flagg Grove School at West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville tells the story of the Nutbush, Tennessee native turned icon; Beale Street in Memphis gave birth to the blues; the king of rock ‘n’ roll’s story lives on at Elvis Presley’s Memphis at Graceland; and labels such as Stax and Sun Records launched superstars including Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash.
100th ANNIVERSARY OF SUFFRAGE
Learn about Tennessee’s role in the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote in 1920. Nashville, Knoxville and other cities and attractions across the state have special exhibits, monuments and memorials telling the stories of women’s suffrage. In honor of the 100th anniversary, Walls for Women created 10 original murals by female artists in multiple communities across the state.
For more Tennessee historical places, visit www.tnvacation.com/experiences/history.