TENNESSEE is a state 440 miles long and covering three geographic regions from east to west. The sections are very different and distinct from one another and have been symbolized in the state flag's three-star design. The eastern region is dominated by the Great Smokey and Cumberland Mountains; the mid-state enjoys rolling hills and fertile valleys; while the west supports rich agricultural farmlands.
During my journey across the state it was easy to see the differences in culture and lifestyle. I can imagine that plantation owners must have clashed sharply with mountain homesteaders on the slavery issue during the Civil War era, since Tennesseans live very different lifestyles within these regions. Although the state seceded from the Union to join the Confederacy and protect its slave-dependent agrarian economy during the War, the eastern Tennesseans remained sympathetic to the Union. It's taken generations for the division to heal, but ironically the east and west still don't agree on the time of day as we cross from the Eastern to the Central Time Zone. Traveler, set your watch!
Following the Cumberland River across the plateau, you pass Carthage, the hometown of former Vice President Al Gore. It was here on the steps of the Smith County Courthouse that he announced his candidacy to run for public office several times -- for Senator, Vice President, and President. While he was successful in the first two endeavors, he might have had better luck if he announced his presidential campaign from the steps of the Supreme Court!
Another major waterway crossing the state is the Tennessee River which flows from the Appalachians across the Cumberland Plateau through the Tennessee Valley, eventually joining the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The Tennessee River has long been a major highway for riverboats and they're still operating today. In fact, river navigation has been largely responsible for the economic and industrial growth of the entire Tennessee Valley. The river has been harnessed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) with many dams and locks built during the 1930s, improving its commercial value to cities along its banks.
One of the river cities is Chattanooga, located near the Tennessee-Georgia border where the Appalachians transition to the Cumberland plateau. The city is surrounded by mountain peaks and nicknamed the Scenic City, so I had to take in the view from Lookout Mountain. During the 1900s the city of Chattanooga was a busy railroad hub for travelers in the south and subject of Glenn Miller's upbeat tune "Chattanooga Choo Choo." The popular RCA recording sold over a million copies in just six months to be awarded the world's first gold record. Imagine that!
Miles 3805, Week 44, Weather 85F🌤