Hidden Biblical Secrets in Gatlinburg

November 8, 2009

Hepburn as Mary

Dan Brown and his Da Vinci Code can’t hold a bayberry candle to the symbology now present in Gatlinburg.

Christus Gardens, the longtime Biblical wax museum in this tasteful town, closed down, but has risen from the grave in the form of Christ in the Smokies Museum & Gardens, which offers the public a look at the birth, life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus in 11 scenes containing over 100 wax figures and open daily. The Museum and Garden, however, has a delightful secret: many of the figures now appearing in scenes from the life of Christ were once waxen versions of movie and television stars in the Hollywood Wax Museum.

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Tennessee Trails lead to Pandora music and Facebook

November 8, 2009


Tennessee’s Department of Tourist Development is rolling out a new way of promoting the state: Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. According to a news release, “The concept behind the program is to leverage Tennessee’s visitor brands including Chattanooga, Knoxville, Great Smoky Mountains, Memphis and Nashville. Self-guided driving trails extend visitor’s stays by showcasing nearby regional gems such as Jack Daniel Distillery, Trenton’s Teapot Museum, Gray Fossil Site and Museum, the homes of three American presidents, our award-winning state parks and agritourism sites.”

You can see more here, but not much. I’m kind of surprised they have released this concept when so much work remains to be done on it.

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Bedside Reading: Losing the News

September 7, 2009

Alex Jones, who was born and raised in Greeneville, Tennessee, has come out with a sobering look at the state of news in our country. He describes himself in the prologue of the book thusly: “I am in the fourth generation of a newspaper-owning family in Greeneville, Tennessee, and I knew the secret prides and anxieties that go with being in the clan that owns the local newspaper. My family still owns and operates the Greeneville Sun, circulation about 15,000, where my father is publisher and my two brothers and brother-in-law go to work every day.”

Losing the News

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Labor Day Spiritual Thoughts

September 7, 2009

One of the most attention-getting posts on this blog is this one about buying your own moonshine still. The lead article in today’s Salon.com is titled “Moonshine Returns,” and a trip to my local liquor store revealed a display from Leopold Bros, a craft distiller in Denver. I feel like the spirit world is compelling me to opine.

Leopold whiskey

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Did Walter Cronkite crash in the Smokies?

July 19, 2009

Walter Cronkite

In the late 1970s, U.S. 441, the highway that bisects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, was being repaved. Given the high traffic on that road, the work was being done at night. I was there writing a story on that nocturnal paving operation, when one of the Park people mentioned that CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite had come down the Tennessee side of the road too fast and had wrecked his car. He suffered minor injuries in the accident.

I cannot find any references to that accident on the Web. Cronkite doesn’t mention it in his autobiography; the word “Tennessee” doesn’t appear once in the book.  The crash–if it happened–took place at a time when the foibles of the famous were not instantly trumpeted to a celebrity-crazed public.

Post Apocalyptic Pigeon Forge

July 7, 2009


This year’s award for most imaginative Tennessee tourism public relations campaign goes to Bohan Advertising Marketing for the cover of their media kit for Pigeon Forge. The painting depicts a utopian Pigeon Forge of the future, where smoke-belching vehicles have been banned; where no garish signs visually assault travelers; and where bucolic, Heidi-like pastures rise gently to the surrounding mountains.  Surely, Smokies tourism heaven must look something like this.

Nashville City Cemetery

July 2, 2009

I ran across a blog with some great photos taken in the Nashville City Cemetery. Few people visit this place, which is across the street from Fort Negley. It was opened in 1822 and received many bodies from the Civil War.

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Burmese pythons headed for Tennessee?

April 18, 2009

I don’t like snakes, but I love snake stories. While reading the April 20, 2009 edition of The New Yorker, however, I learned one potential Tennessee snake story that absolutely gives me the chills: Burmese pythons, which can grow to 20 feet or longer, have established themselves in South Florida, and could, over time, make their way to Tennessee.

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Campaign to Protect Rural Tennessee?

April 12, 2009


Quick–where was this picture taken? Could be in East Tennessee or Middle Tennessee. No matter where it is, it’s a beautiful place, one that would be a joy to live near, commute alongside, or spend part of a vacation just driving past.

The photo was actually taken in the England, and it’s from the website of a remarkable group called The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

And it’s just the kind of organization we need for Tennessee.

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Sgt. York artifacts to tour USA

March 4, 2009

This just in from Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Mastriano; the Sgt. Alvin York artifacts that he discovered have been moved to the US.  I just have one question:  When will they come to Tennessee?


In February 2009, the actual artifacts recovered from where Sergeant York earned the Medal of Honor on 8 October 1918, were transferred to the Center of Military History (CMH). This included roughly 1,000 of the most important items, encompassing some 30 different types of American and 70 different types of German items, personal effects, equipment pieces, etc. The items included German and American bullets, cartridges, canteens, pieces of belts, buttons, combs, brushes, mirrors, whistles, bottles, bayonets, watches, first aid kits, entrenching tools, coins, gas masks, horse shoes, harmonicas, mess kits, straps, hooks, etc.

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