Hit the Road on Middle Tennessee’s Jack Trail
Saddle up and hit The Jack Trail for a sampler of Tennessee history, music, distilleries and horse tales. Sippin’ to Saddles is a different kind of road trip. You may begin in the wild and crazy honky tonk bars of Nashville, but soon you’ll leave the interstates to discover quaint backroad towns filled with tales of Civil War battles, moonshiners, famous Tennessee Walking Horses and some of the best barbecue in the state.
The Jack Trail is one of 16 self-guided driving tours in Tennessee Tourism’s Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program. It covers a fascinating 328 tourism sites across 348 miles, so pull out your map, draw a loop south-east of Nashville, and you get the picture. Planning is half the fun of any trip. Download the complete guide plus matching iTunes to immerse yourself in the experience, mount your horse and I’ll share some secrets to be discovered along the trails.
# 27 – Tour the home of Sam Davis, the Boy Hero of the Confederacy who was hanged as a spy by the Union army. He is buried in Pulaski, where you can visit the Sam Davis Museum at trail marker #188.
#29 – Stones River Battlefield, west of Murfreesboro, is the site of one of the bloodiest Civil War battles. Hear the canon fire that felled 1,800 Confederates in less than an hour at the 150th anniversary battle reenactment this coming December 29-30, 2012.
#60 Woven white oak baskets and chairs were used as trading coin during the Great Depression. Sixth generation crafters have preserved this culture that visitors can appreciate year round at the Arts Center of Cannon County in Woodbury or the annual White Oak Craft Fair held every fall.
#80 Northside Clocks in Manchester, owned by a third generation norologist (that’s a new word to add to your vocabulary!), is one of the largest clock shops in the South. Imagine the sound of over 500 clocks ticking merrily, marking the passage of time.
#103 Walter Herschel Beech, born in Pulaski, Tennessee in 1891, is an aviation pioneer who founded the Beech Aircraft Company. On shiny waxed floors, the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma houses a pristine collection of all Beechcraft models from 1932 to the present, every one in flyable condition. This stop is a treat for every aviation enthusiast and airplane jockey – especially those who love the Staggerwing.
#116 Fancy visiting a Scottish castle? Tucked away in Winchester, Hundred Oaks Castle was built in 1890 after its owner married in Scotland and developed a love for castles. Hundred Oaks has been a monastery, home to a Tennessee governor, reborn after a devastating fire, and is now an events venue on the National Historic Register. Group tours are available by appointment only.
#138 Sample stone-ground grits and cornmeal from this working grist mill in Winchester. Falls Mill, built in 1873, boasts one of the largest waterwheels still in use. The nearby Log Cabin Bed & Breakfast is a great overnight stop.
#159 All these miles under the saddle can make a traveler quite thirsty. Hidden in the hills between Nashville and Chattanooga is Lynchburg, home to the world famous Jack Daniel Distillery. Ironically this smooth sippin’ whiskey is distilled in a dry county, so you’ll have to ride a few miles down the road after your tour to fully enjoy its flavor.
#161 Did you know Tennessee makes one of the 15 best rums in the world? Prichard’s Distillery in Kelso claims that accolade. You can see the copper pot stills used to make their fine rums and whiskeys, then taste a cocktail in the museum. What sounds more Southern to you – key lime or peach mango rum?
#214 Wyatt Archeological Museum features astonishing Biblical discoveries by Ron Wyatt. See evidences of Noah’s Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah, and photos of chariot wheels where Moses crossed the Red Sea.
# 235 Wealthy horse farms dot the countryside around Shelbyville. Plan your visit during the annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration held every August and you’ll see a spectacular parade of these smooth-gaited horses in action.
#267 Moonpies, Bluegrass and dancing are a big attraction for Bell Buckle’s annual RC and Moonpie Festival. The town’s historic center draws a steady stream of visitors year round. Antiques and hand-dipped ice cream are a perfect combination!
By now you must have worked up quite an appetite. Enjoy a plate of Tennessee-style barbecue at numerous spots along The Jack Trail, culminating in the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue held in Lynchburg every fall.
Now it’s over to you. What are your best finds along the trail?