NT Times spotlights Copperhill

December 14, 2007

The lead article in today’s New York Times “Escapes” section features Copperhill, the southeasternmost town in Tennessee. People from Atlanta and other places are discovering the charms of the town, the low prices of housing, and opportunities for outdoor recreation.


It wasn’t always like that. Copperhill and nearby Ducktown occupied the worst environmental disaster in Tennessee, a blighted landscape visible from outer space. More details here.

Copperhill was also the scene of the “Hicks baby” scandal of 1997, wherein a departed physician of the town–and great uncle of yours truly–was revealed as the the family planning expert of choice for prominent Chattanooga and Atlanta families. He performed abortions or, if the mother wanted to deliver the child, arranged for adoptions. He charged adoptive parents for his services, which led to lurid articles ten years ago of “baby selling.”

Tennessee’s prosperous rural counties: guess which ones

November 9, 2007

A new website that I really like, The Daily Yonder, has been following the work of Andrew Isserman, an economist at the University of Illinois who studies rural areas. A Daily Yonder article today focuses on rural America’s most prosperous counties, which are defined as counties “that have better housing, a more educated population, less poverty and more jobs than the national average.”

I tried to guess how many and which ones these would be in Tennessee. Out of 95 counties, I thought, we should have five above average, but which ones? Williamson County is the wealthiest one in Tennessee, but it isn’t rural. I guessed Greene County in East Tennessee and figured that any others would be within 30 miles of Nashville.

Wrong. Tennessee has just two “prosperous” counties: Giles and Humphreys. I drove cross Giles County last week, and it certainly looks prosperous. The larger question, however, is Why are these counties prosperous?


Giles County Courthouse

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Florida sinks–Tennessee rises

September 30, 2007

The Wall Street Journal has an article that describes how retirees now prefer other states, including Tennessee, over the Sunshine State. The same qualities that attract tourists–controlled growth, pretty towns, parks and bike trails–will lure these out-of-staters who come to town with money to spend.

Lawrenceburg’s Fred Thompson

September 30, 2007

The Boston Globe has a nice piece today on Fred Thompson’s formative years in Lawrenceburg. Seems that his path toward the presidency began inauspiciously with his girlfriend becoming a teenage mother, which resulted in Thompson marrying into a family and becoming influenced by his wife’s grandfather, a Republican attorney known to his family as “Pap.” Writer Michael Kranish describes how the older man shaped Thompson: “The Lindsey household became an intellectual and political feast for Thompson. Pap engaged Thompson in conversations about the nation’s state of affairs, with Pap defending the positions of the Eisenhower administration. One day, Pap gave Thompson a book: ‘The Story of My Life,’ by Clarence Darrow.”

Can you imagine a Republican in our time handing out a book about evolution’s biggest foe?


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Red State Update: Is it good for the Tennesseans?

September 27, 2007

Every time there’s any sort of Tennessee or Southern-based humor, any laughter on my part is always followed by an unsettling thought: does this make us look bad?

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NY Times features Museum of Appalachia

July 27, 2007

Nice piece in today’s New York Times Escape section on the Museum of Appalachia in Norris. The article leads off with a look at the famed collection of Appalachian buildings and artifacts, as well as a chat with John Rice Irwin, the founder.  Writer Keith Mulvihill recommends eating in Cumberland Gap, Tennessee at Webb’s Country Kitchen.

The piece wanders through Kentucky and Virginia and comes back into Tennessee, where Mulvihill discovers Jonesborough. He then comes to the Smokies, where he makes the mistake that so many writers do by claiming that more than nine million people visit the park annually. In truth, the Park Service counts nine million visits every year, not visitors. There’s a huge difference between the two.


Photo of Museum of Appalachia courtesy Tennessee Department of Tourism

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

You are so Nashville if . . .

July 26, 2007

Nashville Scene the capital city’s alternative newspaper, has an annual contest in which readers are invited to complete the phrase “You are so Nashville if . . . .” While many of these one-liners don’t make a lot of sense outside the Athens of the South, here are my favorites from this year.

You are so Nashville if:

You accuse Al Gore of hypocrisy for exhaling carbon dioxide. —James H. Williams

Your church has pyrotechnics. —Dan McNamara

You know more members of the band, than members of the audience. —Fred Ramos

You start a church to get back at the church that fired you. —Michael Williams


This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

Travel website Gridskipper features Nashville

June 7, 2007

Gridskipper, a travel website that claims to be “the decadent guide to the best in worldwide urban travel,” devotes a page to Nashville. The site combines short reviews of restaurants, a few attractions, and shops with a Google map so that visitors can see where these places are.

They do a great job. You can click on one of the short reviews, which takes you to the map, where the review appears again with a link to the selected place. Using Google’s wonderful combination of mapping and satellite photos, you can zoom right in and see the building where you want to go.

There is one slight mistake–Hatch Show Print is listed twice–but anyone who tries to deliver travel info online–ask me about it–can understand how this happens.

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

Tennessee wineries make The Wall Street Journal

May 25, 2007

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article on the explosion of vineyards and wineries around the country. The Journal article reports that “There are 5,110 wineries in the country — 1,773 outside of California, Washington, Oregon and New York, according to the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.”

That’s a lot of corks in a lot of bottles.

The newspaper dispatchd a reporter to drive around and sample the various wines–how does one get a job like that?–and two Tennessee wineries were included among the five states featured in the piece: Holly Ridge Winery in Livingstone on the Cumberland Plateau and Sumner Crest Winery near Portland. Both make sweet wines. The piece quotes Curtis Wallin, owner of Holly Ridge Vineyards in Livingston, Tenn. as saying, “I don’t care much for sweet wines. But I do like the way they ring the cash register.” The photo below is of his wines.


This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

Outside Magazine reveals Smokies ‘secrets’

April 17, 2007

I’m a great fan of the outdoors, most recently spending a week camping in Utah, and I subscribe to all manner of outdoor magazines. Every month, these periodicals almost always have some sort of collection of short articles on parks or towns across the United States. The May issue of Outside Magazine has a headline across the cover that reads “National Park Secrets–22 New Hideouts. Zero Crowds.”

So, hope springing eternal, I turn to the section on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the “secret.” The first part is some good advice from guidebook writer Johnny Molloy, who knows his stuff. He suggests crossing Fontana Lake and approaching the Appalachian Trail from the Eagle Creek arm of the lake via Lost Cove. Sounds good to me, and certainly counts as a secret.

The rest of the article is a joke. The unnamed writer, under the heading “Crash Pad,” suggests staying at LeConte Lodge and gives the contact information. What he or she doesn’t tell readers is that LeConte Lodge is the singlemost difficult hostelry in Tennessee for which to secure reservations–an entire season gets snapped up just days after reservations are opened up for the year. There’s no “crashing” there–you have to plan months in advance.

Uh, thanks for the insider information there, ace.

The writer also makes the very common mistake of confusing the number of visits to the Park with the number of visitors. The Park Service reports that 9.3 million visits were made to the Smokies in 2006. Visits are not the same as visitors–the actual number of which is a mere fraction of 9.3 million. If that many people actually came to the Park in one year, the roads would be gridlocked beyond imagination.


This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.