Pioneers, legendary females and historical heroes can be found on the Screaming Eagle Trail
The Screaming Eagle Trail, part of the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways initiative by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, highlights 75 points of interest in small towns in and around Nashville. While on this driving trail, you’ll learn about legendary ladies like Rosa L. Parks, Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline, Pat Summitt, and tough girl, Cornelia Fort, an aviator in the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron.
The trail gets its name from the bald eagle’s shrill whistle, which earned them the name “Screaming Eagles.” The 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell located on this driving trail, is an infantry division known for their power, speed and skill. They were renowned for their action during the Normandy landings and Battle of the Bulge.
Visit the place where it all began in 1780 when James Robertson and a group of pioneers founded Fort Nashborough located today at Riverfront Park in downtown Nashville. The men built this fort as it served as a shelter for the first families until Native American attacks ended in 1792. Free, self-guided tours are available daily 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Make your way through historic downtown Dickson and take a tour at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, one of country music’s most beloved female artists. Walk through the simulated coal mine chute; see the famed “Crisco Kitchen” and the water-powered mill.
Weave through Erin, Tenn., known for its rich Irish heritage and arrive in Dover, Tenn. This small town was the site of some major Civil War history. The 1851 Dover Hotel was the site of the unconditional surrender of Confederate General Simon Buckner to Union General Ulysses S. Grant Feb. 16, 1862. This first major Union victory set the stage for the eventual capture of the Mississippi River Valley. The hotel was among only four other buildings to survive the Battle of Dover. It remained open until the 1930s and then went under a serious renovation by the Fort Donelson House Historical Association and the National Park Service. The exterior looks about the same as it did when the surrender took place. Visit the hotel and the new exhibits 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. which give first person accounts of the battle.
Drive to the quaint town in Clarksville where you can tour the Smith-Trahern Mansion. Christopher H. Smith, a noted tobacco exporter and businessman, built the mansion in a Greek Revival style in 1859. Smith went sailing on the Cumberland River and it is said that Mrs. Smith, refusing to believe he died on the river, spent her last days looking out of the high, rounded mansion windows for his return. Some have claimed they’ve seen her face peering through the window waiting for her beloved. Tours are conducted 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays and by appointment on weekends.
Travel back to Ashland City and get in touch with nature with Blue Heron Cruises. Hop on a pontoon boat and glide over the Cumberland River. As Captain Jim Steele, the originator of scenic nature cruises in Tennessee, you’ll always see the Great Blue Heron and perhaps catch a glimpse of kingfishers, mallard ducks, wild turkeys and American Bald Eagles as well as beavers, otters, deer and Great Egrets depending on the season. You’ll go through more than 30,000 acres of wildlife refuge.
End your trip with some history about the Fisk Jubilee Singers, the a cappella group that dates back to 1871 and was instrumental in preserving the American musical tradition known as Negro spirituals, and a history lesson about why an exact replica of the Parthenon was constructed in Centennial Park, located about ten minutes away from downtown Nashville.
Have you traveled on the Screaming Eagle Trail? Share your experiences in the comment box below!