Monday, June 10, 2013

Chattanooga, Tennessee

We are back on the road after dealing with health issues.   Interesting to note that back in January we were dealing with travel advisories due to snow & ice and now the travel advisory is for flooding!  We choose the main highways rather than county blacktops as we start south with light rain under a sky thick with clouds.

Rain makes for green grass and lush growth everywhere!  Blooming shrubs accent the fence lines. Acres of fields are neat rectangles of black dirt with rows of  tiny green corn plants emerging. Some have ponds of water standing in the lower areas.  Rivers are running bank full to overflowing.

 As we drive through the Mississippi River plain in Missouri we Listen to Christian historian, William Potter's, interpretation of twenty of the greatest military battles in the world.  Each altered the course of history and served strategic roles in the unfolding plan of God in earth history.

Interesting cloud formations, heavy showers with lightening, very windy with weather band radio issuing severe thunder storm warnings.

Thanking the Lord for a drive through St. Louis with no heavy rain!  

The farmers are stirring up dust clouds as they till and plant their fields in southern Illinois.  Many motorcycles, boats and campers on their way home from Memorial Day week-end or taking off on summer vacations!

Over the Ohio River (third large river today!)and into the Kentucky hill country with forests and lakes.  Crossing the Tennessee and Cumberland River on our way south to the Flying J at Oak Grove for an overnight stay.

Sunny and warm as we cross into Tennessee and head to Nashville. I-24 is a pretty drive through with tree-lined highway, mountain silhouettes on the distant landscape, wild flowers growing in the ditches and medians, acres of small fields on the mountain side  with fragrance of cut hay.

As we near Clarksville, TN the highway climbs the steeper peaks.  Shrubs with fragrant blossoms, perhaps honeysuckle, line the road.  Clouds make dark shadows on the  green slopes of the mountain peaks.   Huge lakes formed by the dams along the Tennessee River spotted with fishing boats.  Water running down off the mountain off the rocky ledges make miniature waterfalls.

Smooth and fast deliveryGood night's sleep and we are off to explore on our way back to the Prairie!

Stones River Battlefield--Murfreesboro, TN

Cannon at Stone's River Battlefield

A small part of the original battlefield is preserved.  There are short trails and a self-guided auto tour with markers identifying stopsThe museum has history of the town, the battle and reactions of the soldiers. The front page of an 1862 newspaper had a paragraph or two from every battlefield in every state.  And they did not even have the internet!!!  Go out the back door of the visitor center.  Look across the field where Union and Confederate soldiers fought.  Imagine opposing armies totaling 81,000 men battling to control Middle Tennessee in one of the Civil War's bloodiest encounters.

Union troops make their final stand here, defending the Nashville Pike and the railroad both vital lines of supply.  The scene as we looked out differs little from 1862!  The railroad and the pike are in the same place, and fields are now planted with native grasses between cedar thickets.  Split rail fences and cannon as well as a National Cemetery with small white headstones standing in perfect rows and the sound of trains and traffic mingled with the songs of birds make a battle seem very unreal!

Why Stone's River?
As 1862 drew to a close, President Abraham Lincoln was desperate for a military victory. His armies were stalled, and the terrible defeat at Fredericksburg spread a pall of defeat across the nation. There was also the Emancipation Proclamation to consider. The nation needed a victory to bolster morale and support the proclamation when it went into effect on January 1, 1863
The Confederate Army of Tennessee was camped in Murfreesboro, Tennessee only 30 miles away from General William S. Rosecrans’ army in Nashville. General Braxton Bragg chose this area in order to position himself to stop any Union advances towards Chattanooga and to protect the rich farms of Middle Tennessee that were feeding his men.
Union General-In-Chief Henry Halleck telegraphed Rosecrans telling him that, “… the Government demands action, and if you cannot respond to that demand some one else will be tried.”
On December 26, 1862, the Union Army of the Cumberland left Nashville to meet the Confederates. This was the beginning of the Stones River Campaign!

The River Discovery Center--Paducah, KY

Riverfront at Paducka, KY

William Clark of Lewis & Clark fame founded Paducah in 1827.  It's origin and prosperity is attributed to its strategic location at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. You can actually see the blue of one and the green of the other as they merge when you walk along the waterfront. Murals depicting its history are painted on the flood control retaining wall along the banks of the river.  One mural shows a special horse & dog well that was installed on main street in the early days!

The River Discovery Center is housed in downtown's oldest standing structure.  The exhibits highlight the history and habitats of the region.  One side of the building houses a training center for riverboat pilots.  The upstairs was the home of a banker and has furniture and items from that era.

The pilothouse simulator lets you pilot a tug, a speedboat and a coast guard buoy tender through various scenarios.   Yes, you can make yourself or your passenger sea sick!!

Did you know that a fish is the host for the fertilized egg of the mussel or clams as we know them?

Steam-powered "snag boats" were outfitted with a huge, strong claw that could take out tree trunks to clear the river for the boats.

The steam calliope patented in 1855 by Josh Stoddard was named after the Greek goddess of music. It was originally intended to replace church bells, but had a less than pious sound to 1855 New England church goers!! It looked like it was a failure, but his brother, who was a river boat captain recognized the potential of the ear-splitting instruments use to announce the arrival of steamboats!!

Two of the most interesting riverboat captains listed were T.G. Ryman and May Miller.
Captain T.G. Ryman is one of Nashville’s favorite sons. He was a well-known Riverboat Captain on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, and by the mid to late 1880’s Captain Ryman owned a fleet of 35 steamboats. Captain Ryman was changed after attending a tent revival being conducted by evangelist Sam Jones. As a result of religious conversion, Captain Ryman began construction of the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1889. The huge building was completed in 1891 and it became one on Nashville most recognizable building. After his death it was named The Ryman Auditorium! 

Captain May Miller, daughter of a steamboat engineer was born in 1846 in Louisville, KY.  In 1865 she married Captain George Miller of Portland, KY, a respected river man and carpenter at the Howard Shipyard in Jeffersonville, IN.
The Millers shared the functions of operating the steamboat, Saline, carrying passengers and freight on the Mississippi, the Red River and the bayous of LA.  She became the first female steamboat Captain to receive a Steamboat Masters license in the US!

Great River Road & Southern Lincoln Heritage Trail

Off the Interstate driving west on state Hwy 146 through rolling rural country side.  Huge trees line the road alternately with acres of wheat fields, pastures, cornfields and farm buildings.  Small churches and cemeteries dot the countryside.  Huge blooms on the catalpa and magnolia trees as well as peonies, roses and lilies make a colorful landscape.  Past the Lincoln/Douglas Debate site at Jonesboro, IL and north on Highway 3, the Great River Road beside the Mississippi River.

We  continue to meander through flat areas of farmland, small farms, recreation areas, small towns, forests of tall trees occasionally a glimpse of the river, tugs, barges, unloading terminals with truck traffic and the rocky, tree lined slope of the opposite bank.

Chester, IL is the "home of Popeye!"  Cement Popeye figures and his cartoon friends are spotted sitting all over the town as well as murals painted on the sides of buildings.

Following a sign north of Chester to  The Pierre Menard Home we take a break and find an almost hidden gem along the river bank,

Pierre Menard Home

A small French Colonial home was built for trader Pierre Menard, who later became Illinois first lieutenant governor.  He was born in Montreal, Canada and age of 15 signed on with a trading expedition to the Illinois Country establishing his own trading business.

An earthquake changed the course of the Mississippi and Kaskaskia river leaving the town on an island separating it from his home.  It is in Illinois but can only be accessed by a road in Missouri!

Interesting discoveries on the tour of the home: 

Rope springs and tightner

  • 200 year old carpets that were hand made.  You can see the stitching on the back. 
  • "Sleep tight. Don't let the bedbugs bite!"  To sleep tight the ropes that make up the springs under the mattress needed to be tightened.  A wooden tool to do that.
  • Small 2 shelf corner stands that held the wash bowl and pitcher.
  • A built-in round cement sink in the kitchen and a small bread baking oven built in the wall beside the fireplace.
  • The center entrance hall was used to entertain by setting up tables the full length of it.
  • Back of handmade rug
  • Being able to "touch" items.

Back on the road headed north to St. Louis and then more rain all the way into Iowa.

Some time with family and back on the Prairie where the lawn does need mowing and the garden does need weeding!

Thank-you for traveling with us,

Prairie Schooners


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