LEARN HOW WEST TENNESSEE SHAPED HISTORY ALONG THE WALKING TALL TRAIL
American history has been shaped and influenced by West Tennessee, more so than you might think. From age-old traditional sport to the bluesy wail of a guitar or trumpet, history runs deep in the Delta. Among the good Southern cuisine lie people’s stories and struggles, troubles and triumphs that can only be discovered with a drive along the Walking Tall trail, one of 16 Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. Pick up a map or download the app and learn about the culture and deep traditions of this region.
Start in Memphis with some music and civil rights history with tours of Sun Studio and the National Civil Rights Museum. Sam Phillips’ Sun Studio helped launch the rock ‘n’ roll genre to the world. Hear stories from legends like Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. You can even touch Elvis’ first microphone. The award-winning National Civil Rights Museum is housed in The Lorraine Motel, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The interactive, technologically-advanced exhibits give an in-depth look into landmark events like the Memphis sanitation strike, Montgomery bus boycott, and the advancement of civil rights in today’s society.
Find more than 100 years of sporting tradition at The National Bird Dog Museum in Grand Junction. Art, memorabilia, information and more show the various retriever and pointing dogs, shooting sports, and hunting and field trials. The National Field Trials are annually held at Ames Plantation, an 18,400-acre plantation that is privately owned and operated. The plantation holds a heritage festival each October with reenactments of life in the 1800s, demonstrations and tours of Heritage Village.
Learn of the “Walking Tall” legend himself, Sheriff Buford Pusser, who led a campaign against moonshiners, gamblers, and other crime figures that earned him enemies but also admiration. His tactics for enforcing the law contributed to this infamy. Learn more of the man behind the legend with a visit to the Buford Pusser Home and Museum in Adamsville which contains original cars, guns, memorabilia, photographs, and furnishings from the Pusser family.
Travel to Jackson for the International Rockabilly Hall of Fame, a celebration of where rock ‘n’ roll met hillbilly music. Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, W.S. “Fluke” Holland, Carl Mann, and, of course, Carl Perkins are remembered through memorabilia, photographs and more. Stop in Century Farm Winery for a vine-to-wine experience. Free tastings, tours, and the view are a great option for a much-needed respite. Also located in Jackson on the Spivey Farm, the winery takes pride in their handcrafted wines like the Norton, which is oaked, dry, and rich in color, or the Cayuga White, a smooth, fruity wine like a Pinot Grigio. Catch a concert at the winery with performances Sept. 6 by the Dirt Pilgrims and Sept. 20 by Boomer Nation.
Praised as one of the “South’s Best Bed and Breakfasts” by Fodor’s, Magnolia Manor, built in 1849, was used as a headquarters for the Union Army by Generals Sherman, Grant, McPherson, and Logan during the Civil War. Maybe it’s because of this rich history that the Manor is reported as being haunted. Guests of the manor and the proprietor herself have reported paranormal occurrences in broad daylight and during the night. Footsteps heard down hallways, apparitions, and bed sheets pulled by invisible hands have been reported. Despite these happenings in the manor’s 30 years of operation as a bed & breakfast only two couples have reportedly left the establishment in the middle of the night.
Historic, educational and technological exhibits are on display at the Pink Palace Family of Museums in Memphis, the last stop on the Walking Tall trail. Learn about the Spanish explorers who came through these parts, the effects of the Civil War and the deadly yellow fever outbreaks. Check out the CTI 3D Giant Theater and the Sharpe Planetarium for out-of-this-world entertainment. Take a turn through the Lichterman Nature Center filled with lush gardens, a 65-acre lake, meadow and forest.