Sam Davis House

Sam Davis House
One of the rooms inside of the Sam Davis House in Smyrna Tennessee.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Columbia Tennessee

We visited Columbia Tennessee way back in 2015, and I have been looking for an excuse to get back ever since!

This is one of the most perfect little small-town downtowns I have ever found.....  great bookstore, music shop, coffee shop, restaurants....  check, check, check.  I really love the square in this town and all that it has going on.

When we visited last time, we found the Old Curiosity Bookshop.  We visited again, though it is now called Duck River Books.  This bookstore is attractive and has a great selection.

We also love Muletown Coffee!  We stopped by as we were looking for a lunch spot.  The gang there recommended several places on the square which we appreciated.  We came back later for some great coffee and pastries here.

I can't tell you how many times I have visited an area and thought to myself, "this is a town that is one bookstore or coffee shop away from being perfect."  I am sure you have experienced that too.  You are somewhere very cool, but the area is just not there yet.  Well, Columbia is there. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

"Fort Pillow" by Harry Turtledove

I read the very well written novel "Fort Pillow" by Harry Turtledove recently.

Whew, where do I start........

Harry Turtledove is a prolific author whose work I have avoided.  I know he has turned out a bunch of alternate history novels.  I DO think this stuff (alternate history) is fascinating, but I worry that, if I read it, I might confuse it in my mind for actual history.  You know, you might be talking about the Civil War with someone and remember reading about something that happened in a battle.  Well, did you read that in an actual book about the battle, or did you read that in a "what if scenario" book?  I could see me getting really confused.

Anyway, that's just my thoughts on that.

I might have to rethink that opinion some though.  After reading this book, I have to say that I really enjoy Mr. Turtledove's writing style, and the way he thinks about (and writes about) a historic event that is historic, but the exact details are uncertain.  "Fort Pillow" is fiction- Harry is speculating about how things happened at this battle.  Accounts exist from two opposite sides, and both sides without a doubt exaggerated and downplayed details to fit their needs.  I think Harry Turtledove gives a very honest telling (considering all available sources) of what probably happened.  Indeed, this work of historic fiction may be the most honest account of the event.

The book gives the story one of the most barbaric defeats that the south handed the Yankees in the Civil War.  It was easily one of the most merciless beatings dished out by the South.

Current history has focused on the fact that the southern forces were headed by Nathan Bedford Forrest (former slave trader and one of the Confederacy's most feared leaders) who attacked Fort Pillow.  The Tennessee Fort was manned mostly by African American soldiers, and Union soldiers from Tennessee.  Both groups were not exactly loved by Forrest's men.

The story gets bad quickly, as command of the Fort fumbles several opportunities to surrender (yes, I did just say "opportunities to surrender") and the Union soldiers find themselves in the perfect storm of an angry enemy's wrath.

Turtledove tells the story of what probably happened during the battle, using accounts from both sides, and balancing them out logically.  He devotes a few pages at the end to discuss the known facts, and how some accounts must have been exaggerated, and used as propaganda.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Chapel Hill, TN

After our visit to the Forrest Boyhood Home, we followed some directions that Gene Andrews gave us, and we visited the actual monument constructed on (near) the actual Nathan Bedford Forrest birth site in Chapel Hill Tennessee.

I also stopped by the post office to collect a postmark!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Nathan Bedford Forrest Memorial at Pilot Knob, near Camden, Tennessee

This old but unsent postcard tells on the back-

On Nov. 4th, 1864 Gen Forrest and his cavalry burned and sank, with artillery fire, nineteen Union Vessels, gunboats and supply boats, which were tied up at the wharf at Johnsonville on the East shore of Tennessee River (Now Kentucky Lake) across from this location known as Pilot Knob.  They destroyed immense stores of Union supplies accumulated there, which were for re-shipment to Sherman's army.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Life and Times of Old Bedford- by Steve Ford

I wanted to give a huge recommendation to "The Life and Times of Old Bedford" by artist Steve Ford.

I picked this up at the Nathan Bedford Forrest Boyhood Home and I have really enjoyed it.  Not only is it a great telling of the life of Forrest, it is also amazingly illustrated.

I didn't want to scan any of the great pieces of art from the inside, you can get an idea of the quality of art from the back cover.  Also, go on over to Steve's website to see more of his lively art.

Old Bedford is so well done....  I have no idea how much time Steve put into this, but it had to have been a lot.

The Life and Times of Old Bedford gets my highest possible recommendation.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Nathan Bedford Forrest Boyhood Home in Tennessee

On the same day we visited Elm Springs, we were able to also visit the Nathan Bedford Forrest Boyhood Home.

The home is managed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  The house has a caretaker, Gene Andrews, who is there often, and you have to give him a call to schedule a time to stop by.  I called him a few days before our visit and found the whole process to be a lot easier than I expected.  Gene was very friendly and said that he would be around most of the day we would be in town, so we could just come by whenever.

We arrived and Gene came over to give us a tour.  He was obviously in the middle of clearing up some debris but he seemed happy to tell us all about the home and Forrest's time there.

Forrest was here as a child from 1830-1833.  He would actually return here during the Civil War.

The home itself is an amazing structure that was built in the 1820s, and was occupied until the 1970s when the State took it over.  The SCV took it over in the 90s, and they have done a lot of work on it.  Gene told us about some great work that locals have helped complete on the home.  A local boy scout group has also done a lot of great volunteer work on the home.

The inside and outside parts of the home are spectacular.  Gene and the SCV have put a lot of work into the home and property.  Anyone with an interest in the Civil War, Forrest, or amazingly preserved and restored old homes should stop by to see the place.  To be honest, I felt like the home had more of a "Little House on the Prairie" vibe going on.

Several musicians have used the home for settings in music videos.  The country duo Joey + Rory used it for their "Josephine" video.  Gene said that they were great people to work with.

The SCV asks for $5 a person to come by and see the home.  I think the two of us were there for a couple of hours on what was basically a private tour.....  so I think this is obviously more of a labor of love than a profit making venture for Gene and the SCV.  It gets my highest recommendation.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Historic Elm Springs Mirror Home- Columbia Tennessee

As we toured Historic Elm Springs in Columbia, we were told that a mirror twin house exists nearby.  It was pointed out to us from Elm Spring's balcony. 

We did drive by slowly later on, and we got a photo from the road (sorry about it being a bit blurry).  How cool is that!

Oddly, this isn't the first twin historic home we have encountered in Tennessee.  Here are a few photos we took of the Replica Andrew Johnson house in Greeneville Tennessee.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Historic Elm Springs in Columbia Tennessee

Visiting Historic Elm Springs in Columbia Tennessee has been very high on my list for a long time!  I have been through the area here and there, but the lovely old home is only open for tours during the week!

Well, not too long ago, we took a Friday off to insure that we would be able to visit Historic Elm Springs.

Not only is this a gorgeous home with some great ties to the Civil War, it is also the Headquarters to the Sons of Confederate Veterans!  If I remember correctly, I THINK I overheard that there are currently still TWO living members who actually are sons of Confederates who fought in the Civil War!

For $5 each we were able to go on a very interesting tour of the home, and we got to hear stories about Elm Springs.

I think our favorite story involved the home being set on fire by Yankees in the area.  The home has been fixed up since then (and, luckily the fire was contained at the time).

Right beside the home, a Confederate Museum is being built.  it looks like it is going to be very impressive, and I look forward to coming back once it is finished.  Hopefully, with the addition of the museum, Elm Springs will have more favorable hours for weekend travelers.

Here are some photos from the home!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Owensboro Kentucky 1910!

This great postcard was sent in 1910 from Owensboro to a friend in Louisville!  It shows Frederica Street.  The sender describes Owensboro as a "pretty little town".

Monday, December 3, 2018

Cascade Cave at Carter Caves KY

I am guessing this postcard is from the 70s, showing The Lake Room in Cascade Cave, Olive Hill, KY....  Carter Caves!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Blind Cave Fish at Mammoth Cave

I found these two postcards recently.  The top one, which looks spectacular, is probably from the 40s.

On the back of the bottom postcard, it says-

The pearly-white eyeless cave fish, Typhlichthys Osborni, on view in the natural cave pools, is spawned, lives and dies without ever seeing daylight.  It is native only to Hidden River and its tributaries.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Star Chamber in Mammoth Cave Kentucky

Here is a great old, undated postcard I found showing the Star Chamber in Mammoth Cave Kentucky.  The card is unused and undated, but I wouldn't be surprised if this one is near a century old.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Echo River, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

"Echo River is the largest body of water yet discovered in Mammoth Cave and a boat ride on this river down on the lowest level is an unforgetable experience.  Here, 360 ft. under-ground are found several species of eyeless fish.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Head of Echo River, Mammoth Cave KY

This postcard was sent postmarked from Mammoth Cave in 1916.....  OVER 100 years ago!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sightseeing on the Green River, Mammoth Cave KY

These two postcards are very similar.  The top one is dated 1962 and shows the Miss Green River.  The one under it is undated and shows the Miss Green River II.

Their descriptions are almost word for word identical on the back, except the first Miss Green River can hold 80 passengers where the second one can hold 122.

The first boat was noted as being operated by Capt. M.E. Nash, where the second one was operated by Capt. Nash and Bob McDaniel.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Wigwam Village- Cave City, Kentucky

Wigwam village has been around in Cave City forever.

I know the place's reputation isn't what it used to be (you can read the tripadvisor reviews).  I also had someone tell me that they had some serious trouble making a reservation.

Here are a few photos.  The place does look cool as you drive by.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Great Onyx Lantern Tour- mammoth Cave Kentucky

I have been trying to figure out all of the tours I have taken at Mammoth Cave over the years.  Many overlap.  Some tour routes are covered in their entirety on other, longer tours.  Anyway, as far as the publicly accessible tour routes go, I think I have been through almost all of the cave.  I know I have taken some of the tours multiple times.

AND, as I have said before, we have taken trips to Mammoth Cave and not even stepped foot inside of the cave.  Its a nice area.

I did realize, however, that I never visited Great Onyx cave.  This cave has a lot of interesting history, though it is not known to connect to Mammoth Cave.  The cave is, however, owned by the National Parks, and it is part of Mammoth Cave National Park.

We called about tickets and bought them ahead of time as it seems that the lantern tour through the cave often sells out.

We had a great guide named Gregg who reminded me a lot of Jerry Garcia (it's the hair).  Anyway, Gregg welcomed the group and told us all about the cave.  Gregg explained clearly that Great Onyx Cave was technically not a part of the big cave- just incase anyone had come from a far distance hoping to mark Mammoth Cave off of their bucket list.

We got on the bus at the visitor center and made our way out to the cave.  I went with my wife and niece, who sat together.  I ended up with a seat next to a charming 8 year old lady from Louisville.  We had a nice chat.  She said that she enjoyed going to caves.  Also, even though she was from Louisville, she had never heard of the Louisville Mega Cavern!  I got to tell her about it!

Our guide pointed out, from the bus, the remains of an old hotel/lodge that used to be on the property for guests visiting the cave.

We got out of the bus near the main entrance.  Gregg gave us some more info on the cave as our bus driver and another ranger prepared the lanterns.

A lantern was given to about every third person.  We made our niece carry the lantern.  I think she enjoyed having the job.

Gregg pointed out many formations, and told us a lot about the cave itself.  There are actually several different stories about how exactly the cave was discovered.  Our guide got into a lot of discussion, as the tour went on, about boundary issues. 

There were a lot of issues over who owned the cave early on, but a death ended the dispute.  Later on, the cave owner was involved in a conflict with his neighbor.  The neighbor pointed out that some of the cave must be under his property.  There was some legal battling....  and it was settled that the neighbor had about a third of the cave under his property.  It was also settled that he owned a third of it.

The original owner had tried to say that, since he owned the entrance, he owned the cave.  The courts found that the property owner owns their land and whats under it. 

Gregg actually showed us original boundary markers inside of the cave!

Gregg told us more of the caves history.  He covered the National Parks acquiring the cave (from each owner).  Adding to the story of this cave, is a spot where "Floyd Collins" is written in the cave, possibly by Floyd himself.  One of the discovery stories involves the legendary caver.  Unfortunately, the signature is farther back in the cave than the tour goes.

Towards the end of our tour, Gregg and his colleagues confiscated our lanterns and walked away, leaving all in total darkness.  They came back, shortly afterwards, showing us a sunrise and a sunset in the cave.

Anyway, this was a very nice cave tour!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Mammoth Onyx Cave in Horse Cave Kentucky

Mammoth Onyx Cave is on the same property as Kentucky Down Under.  There is no additional charge to visit it or anything....  it is kind of a bonus attraction.

The tours are at specific times.  AND, inside of the gift shop near the cave is a very nice and roomy waiting area.  There are rocking chairs.  I could see a family using this room to rest for a few moments during a full day at Kentucky Down Under. 

Beside one of the gift shop buildings is a stone structure leading down into the cave.  This might be the tightest show cave we have ever been inside, but it is still very doable.  There are some tricky steps in this wet cave, and some low ceilings....  You have to be aware of what's around you while you walk through the cave!

This is also one of the shorter cave tours in the area.  I think it was around half an hour.  Still, it was packed, and we felt like we got a lot out of the trip.