CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Clarksville historian Carolyn Ferrell and Montgomery County IT ArcGIS Specialist Bryce Hester teamed up to bring three historic urban trails to life in Clarksville. All three trails begin at the Downtown Commons, 215 Legion Street.
The urban trail is a virtual one that uses existing sidewalks and crosswalks to lead walkers through a route of interesting urban sights. The trails Ferrell laid out entices walkers with open-air history lessons packed with historical tidbits about Clarksville’s past.
Hester has combined the trails into a website with route maps, contemporary photographs provided by Austin Peay State University GIS Center and historic images collected by Ferrell. The project took a little more than four months to complete.
The Downtown Clarksville Trail is eight tenths (.8) of a mile through the center of downtown. Using Hester’s innovative website, trail walkers can learn about Clarksville Marble Works, a business that specialized in carving statues and headstones.
They can imagine the mid-19th-century photographic studio that William J. McCormac operated in the building that is currently home to the Blackhorse Pub & Brewery. The skylight McCormac had installed to give optimal photographic natural lighting is still present on the second story roof.
The downtown trail also passes the Crusman building which houses present day Couture Crush. J.J. Cusman is one of the most interesting little-known figures of Clarksville’s past. He was so badly wounded during the Civil War, he was reported dead. He recuperated and returned to duty where he was captured at Petersburg, escaped to Canada from a Union prison and was en route to Bermuda to become a blockade runner when General Robert E. Lee surrendered. Cusman made his way back to Clarksville and operated a successful wholesale business, served as president of Farmers & Merchants National Bank and was elected mayor in 1878.
The Greenwood-Madison Trail runs 2.7 miles through the historic residential neighborhood of Dog Hill, past the house where actor Frank Sutton, best remembered for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Carter on the television series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C, down to an overview of the Cumberland, passing by the antebellum homes of attorney Alfred Robb, Civil War Colonel William Forbes and tobacco magnate Christopher Smith, on to Riverview Cemetery, with its marble tributes to Clarksville’s early citizens. These are just a few examples of the many historical facts to learn about.
The trails provide an opportunity for anyone who wants to gain knowledge about the history of Clarksville.
For more information about the trail, visit the Clarksville Historic Urban Trails site.
# # #