"These are our people. They are world renowned, unknown, famous, infamous, interesting, diverse, different, but above all, they are a warm, colorful and jolly lot, in love with our land, our mountains, and our culture. May their memories ever be preserved - not so much in reverence to them but as a gift to us and to generations to come." - John Rice Irwin, founder of Museum of Appalachia in Clinton, Tennessee.
The Museum of Appalachia, which might be more accurately described as a living, breathing village, is a meticulously-designed immersion into the hardscrabble life common to the folks who have made their homes in the Southern Appalachian mountains. This Smithsonian Affiliate museum is located less than 30 minutes north of Knoxville, just off of I-75 at 2819 Andersonville Highway, Clinton, TN 37716.
Among the many animals living on and roaming grounds of the museum is a flock of very social peacocks.
First stop on the self-guided tour is the Appalachian Hall of Fame, featuring an amazing collection of artifacts and photographs from all over Appalachia.
Throughout the grounds of the museum are hundreds of pioneer implements, such as this corn "crib," which was used to store cornmeal through the winter.
Still used in various applications today, grindstones like these have been used by people throughout the world to mill corn or flour, sharpen tools, and more.
Small country stores located throughout rural Appalachia sold to pioneers and settlers all the goods that they could not produce or make themselves.
Created by the eccentric coal-miner turned folk-artist Harrison Mayes, crosses and other religious objects such as this one were erected across the United States.
Although the famous writer, Mark Twain was born just a few months after his family moved out of this cabin, which was previously located in Possum Trot, Tennessee, it remains today as a testament to the often harsh realities of mountain life.
Perhaps it is those harsh realities that have created the lasting musical legacy of the Southern Appalachian mountains.
A multitude of instruments and artifacts - some of which you may be able to identify on your own - are hung on the walls of the museum's many structures.
Once used as a set for the CBS television series Young Dan'l Boone, this cabin dates back to the early 1800s.
Institutions such as schools and churches provided Appalachia's often isolated family farmers with some semblance of society.
Not so commonly used these days, the cantilever barn was once found throughout Southern Appalachia.
The Museum of Appalachia and its wealth of history is open to the public 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. January to February; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. March to May; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. June to July; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. August to October; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. November to December.
Tickets are $18 for adults (19-64), $15 for seniors, $10 for youth (13-18) and $6 for children 5-12 years old.