Rich History at Tennessee’s Milky Way Farm
In the rolling hill country of Giles County, between the towns of Lynnville and Pulaski, candy legend Frank Mars developed one of Tennessee’s most astonishingly wealthy and prosperous farms that today is seeing a new lease on life.
Milky Way Farm was named after the nickel candy bar that became the world’s #1 selling candy bar in 1930, and evolved under the masterful vision of this brilliant entrepreneur. No doubt you are all familiar with the Milky Way, Mars Bar, Snickers and M & M’s: You have Frank Mars to thank.
On his 2800-acre estate purchased in 1930, Mars built a magnificent 25,000 square foot Tudor mansion and a total of 30 barns, 70 cottages and the world-famous crooked sheep barn for his growing enterprise of thoroughbred horses, sheep, cattle and 935 hired hands. He was known for building barns to fit the curve of the land, and his crooked sheep barn is listed in Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
The estate is one of those amazing gems you discover that absolutely takes your breath away. Under the inspired hands of present owner Charles Jones and his daughter Lynn Golden, Milky Way Farm is being revitalized as a Tennessee landmark.
If you drive in the tree-lined entrance on the first Sunday of the month, you may soon find yourself caught up in the excitement of Derby Day, an old fashioned celebration of horses and music. “It’s an everyday horse race,” explained Lynn. “Whatever shows up determines the category.” Folk spread out their lawn chairs and quilts on the hillside overlooking the racetrack where the estate’s champion thoroughbreds once trained, including 1940 Kentucky Derby winner Gallahadion.
The historic 1930’s Manor House sits on a commanding hill overlooking the farm that is now around 1100 acres, inviting you to come and explore. Built from stone and timber quarried and logged on the property, it features 20 bedrooms, 14 baths and a dining room table that seats 40. It’s a very popular location for weddings and the whole house can be rented for overnight stays for the bridal party or corporate events.
Educational tours are offered for groups and you can check their website’s calendar for upcoming festivals. Plan to take the family along to the Country Fried Festival and Horse Races on the weekend of June 1 & 2, where you can enjoy great Southern food, country and Bluegrass music, hayrides, horse races and a tour of the Manor House.
There are plenty of ways to explore this beautiful property. Over 20 miles of equestrian trails are open for riders at a nominal fee. You can get a group of 10 or more and take a Hike and Bike Tour. The $15 fee also includes a tour of the Tudor Manor.
Tucked away all over the estate are unbelievable stone and timber barns in various stages of restoration or decay. The Chandelier Barn is often used by groups organizing weekend trailrides. You can almost hear the whispers of stable hands from decades past tending prize horses and livestock. In its prime in the 1940’s, Milky Way Farm produced Hereford steers that sold for as much as $65,000 and were shipped all over Europe.
On select Saturdays throughout the year, Milky Way Farm offers a country breakfast and entrepreneurial discussion with owner Charles Jones. Hear tales of his journey from Rutherford County tenant farmer to master of Milky Way Manor. Charles is a wealth of life wisdom and inspiration and also has plans to build a Creative Cabin as a quiet, secluded hillside retreat.
The dreams are still evolving and Charles and Lynn have many plans for the future. Make sure you introduce yourself when you visit, and hear their tales of the work in progress. The journey is all part of the charm!