Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Cumberland River’

Music City Trolley Hop Tour

Trolley SignWaiting for the red trolley car to arrive, there was time to visit the Farmer’s Market in Nashville, Tennessee. Downtown parking seemed rather expensive at $20 for the afternoon but it was free to park at the Farmer’s Market and hop on the trolley at that point.

TrolleyThe driver and guide made the trip fun with a great assortment of historical facts, stories of businesses and some downright corny jokes. The Trolley Tour is a hop-on tour so you can get off at seventeen various stops and hop right back on later in the day. Sure saves fighting downtown traffic.

Trolley CapitolGetting on at this point, the first stop is the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Not sure if the guide was stretching the truth or not, but he said the fountain of water supported a large granite ball weighing 18,000 pounds!

The view of the capitol building brings out everyone’s cameras. The capitol building is framed by the 50 columns, representing the 50 states in the United States. The 95 bell carillon rings out on the hour and represents the 95 counties in Tennessee.

Trolley Piggly WigglyAttention was given to the local Piggly Wiggly as this chain began in Memphis, Tennessee as the first self-service grocery store back in 1916 by Clarence Saunders. Previous to this time, shoppers gave their orders to the clerk and the clerk then gathered everything from the shelves. Saunders rearranged the stores to make shopping much faster for the customer and the clerk. Today there are 600 Piggly Wigglys in 17 states.

Trolley RCARCA Studio B created Nashville magic for over 35,ooo songs, making it an international recording center  known as one of the cradles of the “Nashville Sound”. Popular artists, such as Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and Eddy Arnold recorded their songs here.

Trolley ColumbiaNearby, the historic site of Columbia Records Studio A displays large guitars indicating the Carter Family and Johnny Cash recorded many of their songs here. Today both of these formerly popular studios are learning centers for Belmont University.

Trolley StationAt Riverfront Train Station, the trolley takes a short break before continuing on the rest of the route. This site was previously the home of another train depot which was build in 1902. The present station was built in 2005 and they have attempted to capture the Old World flavor.

Trolly Honky TonkStraight across the street from the station is Honky Tonk Row. This is where many stars and hopefuls play during the evening hours as entertainment in many local clubs. They provide encouragement,  a stage, and a tip jar for musicians.

Trolley StadiumThe beautiful Cumberland River flows behind the station and gives a grand view of the Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans football team, on the other side. You can actually walk across the river to the stadium on the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge. The Cumberland River is 688 miles long and eventually joins the Ohio River in Kentucky.

Trolley SculptureA beautiful sculpture brightens the waters also. Ghost Ballet East Bank Machineworks received its name because as you look at the sculpture from different angels, it suggests movement, similar to that of a dancer. This gives a little time to watch the river flow by and gain a little peace from the busy day.

Trolley Art CenterOn our way back to Farmers Market, evidence appears that Nashville hosts more than country music. A glimmering bronze statue, The Recording Angel, stands at the corner of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, home of the Nashville Symphony, which provides classical music entertainment. But they are no snobs, as often country music favorites appear accompanied by the orchestra.

This tour will perhaps be taken again someday when there is more time to visit various stops along the way. It is the perfect way to see Nashville…without fighting downtown traffic or trying to find a parking place! Try the Hop-On Tour the next time you visit Nashville.

 

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Blue Heron Coal Mine in Cumberland River Valley

After walking along the beautiful Cumberland River, decided to take a break in an abandoned coal mining town.

Today this old mining camp has been restored as an historical tribute to the people who lived and worked there…kind of a museum to Old King Coal. No. 18 Mine Blue Heron is located in the hills of Kentucky near Stearns in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Carved in the side of a mountain, it overlooks the Big South Fork of the beautiful Cumberland River.

Since this stop was in the winter time, the museum was not open, but still could enjoy the atmosphere of the mining camp. There wasn’t another living person around that day so had the freedom to move at a leisurely pace along the paved walkways in this re-created mining town.

…”I owe my soul to the Company’s Store.” That was the life of the coal miners in this small town of Blue Heron  from 1939-1962. From this isolated location, everything they purchased had to come through the Company Store. Instead of cash, miners would “draw scrip”, unexchangeable credit vouchers which could only be used at the company’s store. Coal companies had their own scrip coins with their personal emblem , thus indeed miners did end up owing their soul to the Company’s Store. They had no way to establish cash savings to find another workplace.  Luckily, some coal mines gave their miners a choice of cash or scrip for payment, and eventually the United Mine Workers Union forced them to discontinue the use of scrip completely.

Stops along the way contained recordings of the miners’ stories and provided a resting place as well.  The voices heard were those of long ago residents of Blue Heron as they shared their stories and memories of life at the mining camp.

Just looking into the entrance of the Blue Heron Coal Mine gave an understanding of what these miners faced each day. Inside there were figures of miners picking, drilling, and loading.  One of the recordings there described the mine as “dark as a dungeon, camp as the dew,” as singer Merle Travis portrayed the mines in his 1946 recording.  Outside this entrance the coal cars and locomotives were originals from the mining camp.

Was exciting to walk across the old tipple bridge to get a bird’s eye view of the area. This tipple was able to screen, separate, and load about 400 tons of coal an hour.

Sometimes over 200 men worked in this camp. When they got off work, most headed to the big bath house so they could shower and change their clothes before heading home for the day.  That saved a lot of coal dust in the houses! Workers actually went on a two day strike to get a bigger bath house, but of course didn’t get paid while on strike. Imagine their families really appreciated the cleaner workers coming home at night.

Learned a little more about the life of a coal miner…their living and working conditions. Next time perhaps will take the Big South Fork Scenic Railway, which reaches the heart of the canyon along the Cumberland River and drops passengers off for a visit to the Blue Heron Coal Mine.  Add a Coal Miner’s Lunch all wrapped up in a bandanna for a better taste of the mining experience.

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