Take a scenic drive as rich in history as it is in fresh air, gently rolling hills, and down-home charm. Stop to explore small Tennessee towns to uncover the story of Middle Tennessee, from Native Americans to westbound settlers, Civil War soldiers and beyond.
Williamson County Visitor Center
Stop in for maps and info on self-guided walking tours, including the Franklin Tour iPad App and Franklin on Foot guided tours with subjects like history, Civil War and ghost stories. You'll also find Old Tennessee Trail and The Jack Trail self-guided driving tour brochures.
400 Main St.
Franklin Town Square and Monument
This monument was erected in 1899 to honor Tennessee's Confederate soldiers of the Civil War.
3rd Ave. N
In the fall, stop to pick a pumpkin, explore a corn maze, and experience rural life. This land has been owned by the Gentry family since 1849, and its 400 acres remain a working farm with three Civil War-era homes (Private Residences). Open weekends, end of Sept.-Oct.
This is the only historic village on the Tennessee portion of the Natchez Trace Parkway. Originally named "Bentonville," it was founded by Thomas Hart Benton's mother and grew around a store, a log school and church. Stop here and experience historic architecture and modern charm, where a fine art gallery is a neighbor to a grocery store that moonlights as a music venue. This special place is home to farmers, talented artists and musicians (yes, some very famous) who appreciate its down-home feel and peaceful rolling hills.
This 1882 home was originally built for the Sam Sweeney family and now houses offices.
4154 Old Hillsboro Rd.
Leiper's Fork Market
Stop in for a snack and a walk back in time as you view historic photos and stories of the area on the walls of this convenience store.
4348 Old Hillsboro Road
The road takes its name after the 1801 military post established here to enforce the 1785 Indian Treaty's Tennessee Valley Divide boundary, allotting the Cherokee space for hunting grounds stretching into Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina.
5379 Old Hillsboro Rd.
Nett's Country Store
A slight turn onto Skelley Road brings you to this down-home country store and restaurant serving up delicious homemade pies, great cooking, and live music from time to time.
4356 Skelley Rd.
Papa Boudreaux's Cajun Cafe
Straight from New Orleans, "Papa" relocated to Tennessee and at the urging of friends who love his authentic recipes, opened a Cajun restaurant on his Santa Fe property. This colorful gem is going to surprise you!
3419 Fly Road
Fly Community and Store
Enter into the unincorporated and primarily agricultural community of Fly, Tennessee, just outside of Santa Fe. Opened by members of the Fly family, original settlers in the area, Fly's General Store opened in 1906 and is still known by its original name. Neighboring Fly Nazarene Church also anchors the fly community.
5661 Leipers Creek Rd.
As you continue down Hwy 7, notice Spout Spring (L). It was a drinking water source for Middle Tennessee Railroad, which ran through the area.
5668 Leipers Creek Rd.
Water Valley Community
This was one of Maury County's first settlements, and the earliest marked grave (Sarah Fly, 1808) in the county lies here. In 1824, Water Valley had 61 voters and paid taxes on 14 slaves. This is a classic country drive, with stunning colors in the fall.
4849 Leipers Creek Rd.
Water Valley Community Center
At this corner, find the Water Valley Community Center where dances are still held every week.
4849 Leipers Creek Rd.
Beautiful scenery marks this stretch of the Old Tennessee Trail. Note the historic church (L) as you stay with Leipers Creek Road, and imagine yourself here in the early 1800s as the area was being settled and farms were being established. Relax as you take in the Tennessee countryside.
4738 Leipers Creek Rd.
Duck River Bottomland
Your scenic drive continues on Snow Creek Road near the Duck River bottomland (L). You'll pass a pre-Civil War Greek Revival home and other historic structures as you approach the river and cross the bridge.
3978 Snow Creek Road
Jonathan Webster Home
The historic 1808 home of the Revolutionary War veteran Jonathan Webster.
3166 Hampshire Pike
Zion Presbyterian Church
The church was organized in 1807 by 11 descendant families of Scottish and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians who originally immigrated to South Carolina around 1731. It was located in the center of the 5,120 acres purchased from General Nathanael Greene's land grant from the Revolutionary War. These pioneer settlers erected the first church on the site even before building their own homes. Zion Church has served as the religious and social center of the community continuously to the present time. The current building was built in 1849.
2322 Zion Rd
Mount Pleasant Confederate Monument
This memorial to all Confederate soldiers is also a tribute to Mount Pleasant's "Bigby Greys," the town's finest young soldiers. It was here that the group gathered to receive the banner they would carry into battle, which is now on display at the Museum.
100 Public Square
Rattle and Snap
William Polk, original owner of the property, won 5,648 acres of land in a game of chance called "Rattle and Snap" and divided it between his four sons. George Polk built this mansion, named after the game and known as one of the best examples of Greek Revival residential architecture in the country. The home is open to the public for tours (advance reservations required, admission charged). The Carriage House on the property is available for overnight stays. It is one of two National Historic Landmarks in Maury County.
1522 N. Main St.
This excellent 1832 example of Palladian-style architecture was the first of the four homes to be built on William Polk's original tract. The wealth required to build these magnificent homes was tied directly to the fertile soil, as the Polks became very successful plantation owners. Hamilton Place was built by Lucius Polk for his wife, Mary Ann Eastin, shortly after they were married in the White House during Andrew Jackson's presidency. Now a private residence on the National Register of Historic Places, Hamilton Place is one of the two remaining homes on the original land. Westbrook (Rufus Polk) and Ashwood Hall (Leonidas Polk) no longer stand.
1605 N. Main St.
St. John's Church
This 1842 church was built where the Polk sons' properties met. Leonidas, an Episcopal Priest, convinced the other brothers to build a church on the land. As the Confederates passed by on their way to the Battle of Franklin, General Patrick Cleburne remarked that it was "almost worth dying to be buried in such a beautiful spot." When General Cleburne was killed in the Battle of Franklin, his body was interred here temporarily, along with two other generals (Strahl and Granbury). The cemetery also serves as the traditional burial ground for Episcopal Bishops of Tennessee.
6497 Trotwood Ave.
Constructed in 1835 as a private residence, in 1852 it became the rectory of The Athenaeum, one of the most highly regarded girls' schools in the South. Its 22-acre campus enrolled about 125 female boarding students at a time, until its closing in 1904. The architecture is a blend of styles, from Gothic and Greek Revival to Italianate and Moorish. Tours available.
808 Athenaeum Street
P. 0. Box 942
James K. Polk Home
This is the only surviving home (excluding the White House) of James Knox Polk, 11th president of the U.S. This Federal-style structure was built by his father, Samuel, and James K. Polk lived here between 1818 and 1824, continuing to visit his mother here frequently until his own death in 1849. Tour this National Historic Landmark and two other structures on the property to see over 1,300 artifacts and mementos from Polk's life, including original furniture and White House china.
301 West Seventh Street
P. 0. Box 741
Polk Presidential Hall
This addition to the Polk Home campus is housed in a restored 1882 vernacular gothic Christian Church building. Here you will see more personal artifacts from Polk's life, and from time to time, traveling exhibits from the Smithsonian Institute.
810 High St.
Polk's Boyhood Home
In about 6.3 miles, you'll pass the historic site of Polk's Boyhood Home (R), which no longer stands. In another 2 miles, you'll pass the University of Tennessee Agriculture Research & Education Center (R). Since 1917, this 1,263-acre facility has conducted research in crops and trees, production efficiency, and beef and dairy cattle.
1000 Main Entrance Dr.
This magnificent 1853 mansion was built by Nathaniel Frances Cheairs IV, a Civil War colonel in the Confederate Army and the very man that carried the surrender flag at Fort Donelson in 1862. The property was purchased by the Saturn Corporation in the 1980s and donated to Maury County. The Tennessee Museum of Early Farm Life is located on the grounds in two salvaged barns. Open for tours.
The peaceful estate you see today served as the headquarters for Confederate General Hood on the night of the Union's inexplicable retreat to Franklin from the Spring Hill battlefield. Badly injured and believed to be sedated for pain, General Hood slept here while the Union Army slipped through the Confederates' grasp. Oaklawn was once the home of by country music legends George Jones and Tammy Wynette.
3331 Denning Lane
Much of the hard fighting in the Battle of Thompson's Station took place on this property. The 1809 home sheltered many local women and children in its cellar as the battle took place. While watching the action from the cellar window, 17-year-old Alice Thompson saw the Confederate color-bearer shot down and bolted from the house to lift up the flag. Her courage inspired the Confederate soldiers to rally and defeat the Union. The property has a conservation easement from The Land Trust for Tennessee and a foundation has been started for Thompson's Station Battlefield Park.
This 1854 home gets its name from the mountain laurel that once grew on the lawn and surrounding property. The thin columns are architecturally unusual for the area, and its interior is said to boast solid wood floors of ash, poplar, and walnut over two-and-a-half inches thick. General Hood's officers stopped here on their way to the fateful Battle of Franklin. It is a private residence.
4329 Columbia Pk.
The Harrison House
This 1848 home became General Hood's headquarters during the Battle of Franklin. Outlining the plan of attack on November 30, Generals Hood and Forrest engaged in an argument here about military tactics, leaving Forrest in a rage and sealing the Confederacy's fate with Hood's disastrous plan. This was a place where wounded soldiers were brought and some buried. Today, the Harrison House remains a private residence.
4800 Columbia Pk.
Carnton Plantation and McGavock Confederate Cemetery
This Antebellum mansion dates back to 1826, built by former Nashville Mayor Randal McGavock. During the Civil War, it was the home of Colonel John and Carrie McGavock, featured in the best-selling novel "Widow of the South." Just a few hundred yards from the front lines of battle, the home served as a hospital during the Battle of Franklin, and its wood floors still show blood stains from the more than 300 soldiers brought in that day. Generals Cleburne, Granbury, Adams and Strahl's bodies laid on the back porch after the battle. The adjacent McGavock Confederate Cemetery contains 1,500 graves, the largest private Confederate cemetery in the U.S. Today, the plantation is restored, open for public tours, and is used for private and community events.
1345 Carnton Lane
This 1830 house and its buildings hold more than a thousand bullet holes, received during the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864. In fact, the farm office on the property is known to be the most bullet-damaged building still standing from the Civil War. Some of the bloodiest hand-to-hand combat took place right here, as the Carter family hid in the basement for safety. Today, the Carter House, its buildings, and eight acres of its property are preserved and open to the public, including a fascinating museum, gift shop and guided tours.
1140 Columbia Avenue
You'll find beautifully designed fireplaces, well-preserved antique furnishings and decorative arts from the 1820s to the 1860s in this 1858 home, as well as cannonball scars from the Battle of Franklin. The Lotz family stayed safe across the street in the basement of the Carter home during the bloody battle, emerging to find bodies "so thick you couldn't take a step without walking on one of them." Pickets from the Lotz family's fence were used by the soldiers to build barricades, and blood from both sides still stains the floors, as the house was used as a military hospital for several months following the battle. "Battlefield Walking Tours" are led here by Thomas Cartwright, a leading authority on the Battle of Franklin.
Back in downtown Franklin, the Old Tennessee Trail ends where it began. This town square holds dozens of unique shopping and dining experiences, but remains true to its Main Street identity, with brick sidewalks and beautifully restored buildings in the 16-block historic district. Today, it's an upscale suburb of Nashville, named to Southern Living's "Best Small Town" top 10 list. Now that you have a sense of the area's rich history, take in the town square with a new perspective. Walk these streets and imagine the events, people and culture that have shaped it for hundreds of years.
This state-of-the-art, renovated, 1937 Art Deco theatre offers world-class live music, movies and community events. When it opened, it was the only air-conditioned building in town; in its early days, it even served as a Vaudeville-style theatre. The marquee you see today is a faithful reproduction of the original and is especially striking at night.
The Factory at Franklin
Make plans to explore this unique 12-building dining, shopping and enter- tainment complex. You'll find it a welcome break from chain stores and malls while still offering a variety of options; there's even a seasonal farmers market.