Three Spanish expeditions explored this area but did not establish settlements. As France extended its reach up up the Mississippi and England extended North Carolina westwards both countries claimed the territory. After the Revolutionary War North Carolina showed little interest in the distant settlements west of the Appalachians and in 1789 it ceded its western lands to form the Southwest Territory. The Territory applied for statehood and in 1796 it was admitted as the state of Tennessee with its borders formed largely by extending the north and south borders of North Carolina across to the Mississippi. As the Civil War loomed, opinion in Tennessee was against secession but it changed when the north prepared to use force. Tennessee joined the Confederate side but the action proved to be rather one sided with Union forces soon taking west and central Tennessee. By late 1864 the Union had control of the whole state.
Tennessee River at Knoxville
James White set up a fort and a cluster of cabins in 1786. The community grew and in 1791 it was renamed Knoxville and it became the capital of the Southwest Territory. In 1794 Blount College was founded in the town, the forerunner of the University of Tennessee. When Tennessee gained statehood, Knoxville continued as capital until 1817 when it was decided to move the capital to the more central location of Murfreesboro. In 1826 the capital moved on to Nashville. Meantime Knoxville’s riverside location allowed it to grow as a regional merchandising centre and as a stopping point for migrants heading west. Education remains a key part of modern Knoxville as it is the home of the University of Tennessee. When this picture was taken the city was bursting at the seams with visitors attending a College (American) Football game.
Cumberland Mountains from Pinnacle Overlook
Part of the Appalachians, the Cumberland Mountains are shared between Kentucky, Tennessee and the Virginias. Compared to the Rockies they are small, reaching a height of only 1287 metres (4223 feet), but in the right light they can appear fearsome. Pinnacle Overlook, in the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, is actually on the border of Kentucky and Virginia, but this view is looking across the corner of Virginia to the Cumberlands in Tennessee.
Tennessee State Capitol, Nashville
While Nashville became state capital in 1826 it took a quite a while before it had a capitol building. Work on the capitol began in 1845 and it was not completed until 1859. Designed by William Strickland, who moved from Philadelphia to supervise construction, the capitol is modelled on a Greek Ionic temple. Instead of a dome, the Tennessee State Capitol has a tower inspired by the monument of Lysicrates in Athens. Strickland died in 1854 and he is buried in the north east wall. His son, F W Strickland supervised the completion of the building. During the Civil War the building was held by Union forces and renamed Fortress Andrew Johnson. The artillery located there was never fired in battle. The capitol remains in use but is also open for guided tours.
Tramcar & steam engine, Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel
Chattanooga has the dubious distinction of being famous primarily because of a song. Yes, this is where the train in the song ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ would have been heading, but no more as the railroad station closed in 1970. The former station may look like a railroad museum, but it is actually now the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel. You can stay or dine if you wish in a railroad carriage (we preferred to stay in the comfort of a room). You can even take trips on an authentic New Orleans tramcar (trolley). Another unusual feature is the restaurant where the waiters, backed by a band, go up on stage to sing requests from the diners. Only in the US of A.
Click on Minimap to navigate
Replica of birthplace, Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park
The legend of hunter, frontiersman, soldier and politician Davy Crockett lives on in a State Park between the towns of Limestone and Rheatown. Davy Crockett was born here in 1786 in a frontier cabin that has long gone, but a replica of a typical cabin of the period has been erected on the site. When Crockett grew up he became well known as a hunter and raconteur. He also became a colonel in the militia of Lawrence County, Tennessee. Between 1826 and 1834 he was also a US Congressman. In 1836 he went to Texas to take part in their revolution, but was killed at the Battle of the Alamo. Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park has particular significance for this web site as it was here that we discovered that we had visited 34 states, and decided that we might as well visit the remainder.
Fort Watauga, Sycamore Shoals SHP
An area where the Watauga River passes through shallow rapids is known as Sycamore Shoals and settlers arrived in there in the 1760s. The Cherokee Indians first leased and then sold land to the settlers despite opposition from within the tribe. Come 1775 the settlers were strongly in favour of separation from Britain while the Cherokee, encouraged by the British, decided to drive the settlers out. In 1776 Fort Caswell was built to provide refuge for settlers from the Cherokee. The Indians laid siege to the fort for approximately two weeks, but they departed when the settlers failed to surrender. As part of the bicentennial celebrations, a replica of the fort was built near to the original site. It is the centrepiece of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park and is known as Fort Watauga.
We have more pages on Tennessee. Click below or on the Minimap: