Before we head off on today’s adventure, let’s stop in the Newport City Park for a look at the path we have been walking. It is about a half-mile winding loop, mostly in the shade of big trees.
On to Davy Crockett‘s birthplace in Limestone, Tennessee, now Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park. It is several miles off the main road, down several narrow country roads. The road made a sharp curve and I drove straight into the park. Andy exclaimed, “This can’t be it! We are not on a mountaintop!” He was right, the mountains were in the distance. What about “Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee; Greenest state in the land of the free”? Sorry, that must have been a Hollywood fabrication. We were terribly disappointed.
I wonder how many people younger than me even know who Davy Crockett was. Anyone watching television in the 1950s saw the wildly popular television series about him. It was part of the Walt Disney program. But, Crockett didn’t need Disney to become famous. He was a legend in his own time. He was known as an expert hunter and trapper. Muscular and good looking, he was popular enough to get elected to congress. There, he was described as uncouth, loud, and illiterate (which he was). He was also famous for his colorful mountain language such as “….a huckleberry over my persimmon”. He was fearless in his fight against President Andrew Jackson in 1830 over the removal of the Cherokee from their lands. He later lost an election over this issue. That is when he headed west to Texas.
We passed the very nice campground (with 40 full hookup sites (30 amps)). There is also a large swimming pool. Our first stop was the memorial, not to be confused with a grave. He was, of course, killed at the Alamo. I asked Wikipedia what happened to the bodies.
“Once all of the defenders had been killed, Santa Anna ordered his men to take the bodies to a nearby stand of trees, where they were stacked together and wood piled on top. That evening, a fire was lit and the bodies of the defenders were burned to ashes.”
Here is a closer look at the monument.
There is a nice replica cabin I presume to be typical of the place and time. There were bars over the door so we could not go in and it was hard to take any pictures. (I should have had my smartphone with me.) The positive side of bars over the door was that the interior was furnished nicely for the period. I also noted that park visitors have not written and carved their names into the logs as they have in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park cabins.
There was something very strange about that place. The soil glittered. I didn’t capture it very well with my camera but, here is my best attempt. Those white specks were shining brightly in the sun. I told Andy I thought it was mica even though I really didn’t know what mica is. It took a bit of Googling to find the answer. There are mica mines upstream in the mountains.
The Crockett cabin is on the banks of the Nolichucky River, which flows into the French Broad River, which joins the Holston River to form the Tennessee River in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Next, we drove a relatively short distance to the town of Jonesborough, the oldest town in Tennesee and the storytelling capital of the world. It was the capital of the state of Franklin, which was never recognized by congress. It was reclaimed by North Carolina but, eventually became part of Tennessee when it was admitted to the union.
We stopped in the visitor center and picked up a walking-tour map. Our first stop was the Main Street Cafe for lunch. The historic downtown is several blocks long and full of old buildings. Here are a few.
This private home is the Naff-Henley House, built in 1840.
This might be the most charming building on Main Street. It is owned by the state of Tennessee and has a excellent museum on the ground floor. It was built by the local doctor in the late 1790s as the Chester Inn to accommodate travelers on the Great Stage Road (same as the Wilderness Road Daniel Boone helped to clear). Later it was doubled in size.
The Mansion House was built in 1843 by the town’s first postmaster. It served as one of Jonesborough’s earliest hotels. It is humongous.
This three-unit row house was built in 1820 by Samuel Jackson of Philadelphia. His three daughters rented the units and it became known as Sisters Row.
This building was built as a residence in 1797. It was enlarged and converted into a hotel in the late 1800s.
This log cabin was built a couple miles outside of town and later moved to the city park to preserve it. It was built by Christopher Taylor in the 1770s. Andrew Jackson stayed in this cabin for some months and studied law.
When we got back to the car, parked at the visitor center, I thought someone had drawn a happy face on the pavement with chalk. It was really a reflection of the sun off the neighboring car’s wheel.