I just returned from Kingsport , TN where this year’s Governor’s Conference on Tourism was held September 22-24. During this time, I made new friends, spent time with old ones, agreed to partnerships with others and learned much about what Tennessee is planning for the future. My employer should know my time there was productive. However, the two most important things I brought home from Governor Bredesen’s last tourism symposium, was first, no one I met wants to see tourism commissioner Susan Whitaker replaced by the next administration. A position I also support, providing she would be willing to continue. The second happened during the Governor’s address on the third day when he sincerely characterized Tennessee as possibly the most American state. As the room erupted with applause over the comment, I felt personally vindicated that someone important actually said in public what I have personally believed for years.
During the American Revolution, a group of men from the Smoky Mountains led by John Sevier helped the American army win the Battle of Kings Mountain. Several Indian battles were also fought during this same time in the region and when help did not come from North Carolina , which held this territory at the time, some of the mountain counties revolted and formed their own government. North Carolina eventually regained control, but ultimately gave the land to the federal government in 1789 because of an inability to collect taxes from the independent minded people who lived here. Then, by June 1, 1796, there was enough population between the Smoky Mountains and the Mississippi River for Tennessee to become the 16th state in the Union and John Sevier would be her first governor.
As a result, Tennessee was the first state to be created out of a US government territory. During the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson led Tennessee ’s volunteer troops in a rout of the British infantry at the Battle of New Orleans. He later became President in 1828 and Tennessee became known as “The Volunteer State .” Tennessee was also the last to withdraw from and the first to return to the Union during the War Between the States. A distinction few realize occurred. Still today, “Life is VOL-untary” in Tennessee.
From the Great Smoky Mountains of the east, across the craterous Cumberland Plateau in the middle, on west to the Mighty Mississippi River, you will find incredible history, world class entertainment, amusement parks, sporting events, music, golf, waterfalls and inspiring scenic views from one end of the Volunteer State to the other. Within a day’s drive of almost two thirds of the US population, without a doubt, Tennessee is the most beautiful and diverse place in the entire country.
Flourishing with majestic natural beauty, attractions, athletics and more weddings than anywhere this side of Las Vegas , East Tennessee also possesses some of the best outlet shopping in the southeast. There are accommodations ranging from comfortable mountain cabins, welcoming bed and breakfasts, charming campsites, family operated motels and luxury hotels. East Tennessee has long been home to a plethora of attractions, featuring the Great Smoky Mountain National Park , the country’s largest collection of artisans in Gatlinburg’s Arts & Crafts Community, Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, the International Storytelling Center , Ripley’s Aquarium, the Knoxville Zoo and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Just south, Ruby Falls , Rock City , the Chattanooga Choo-Choo and the Tennessee Aquarium anxiously await your arrival.
In every historic community, East Tennesseans are looking forward to making your vacation a memorable experience. Also, there is a place where music lives. A place where music is born and raised until it is old enough to travel the universe on its own. The place where people don’t just talk about songs, they live the lyrics to the rhythm of their lives. That magical place is Nashville , but her friends just call her Music City . I lived there for two decades before moving to Sevier County in 2005.
The sounds of Middle Tennessee can also be heard in the cheers and jeers that ring from LP Field during a Tennessee Titans game, or the lioness roar of the Nashville Super Speedway. Between the sports and concerts, exploring the outdoors along antebellum trails that line the historic battlefields of Nashville and nearby Franklin will take you back in time. Then, you can reflect upon the accomplishments of musical legends past and present at the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry. Few experiences are as romantic as viewing the city at night from the Cumberland River on the General Jackson Showboat. Certainly, there are few cities in America with as much cultural heritage as Memphis . Nowhere else will you find a city that is happy to have the Blues.
Embraced by the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers , West Tennessee offers the nightlife of BB King’s Beale Street , the musical history of Sun Studio, Elvis’s Graceland , and the Stax Museum of American Soul. Civil War grounds and the National Civil Rights Museum offer a glance of Tennessee ’s rebellious side. Consequently, West Tennessee still continues to be a living portrait of Tennessee ’s individuality. Yes, Governor Bredesen was right, for no state is more American and life is definitely “VOL-untary” here in Tennessee !