Tennessee became the 16th state in 1796. People from Tennessee are sometimes referred to as “Butternuts” due to the tan uniforms they wore during the Civil War. Tennessee was the last state to leave the Union for the Confederacy. Nashville, Tennessee is known as the Music Capital and the Home of Country Music due to the prevalence of country music in the city.
The Volunteer State
Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State. It got this nickname during the War of 1812. It was a war between the United States and Great Britain. Tennessee had only been a state for a little over 15 years and were eager to prove their patriotism. General Andrew Jackson led the effort and 1,500 men from Tennessee volunteered to serve. The troops from Tennessee were instrumental during the Battle of New Orleans, the final battle of the war. The nickname proved true once again during the Mexican-American War. The Secretary of War asked Tennessee for 2,800 men and over 30,000 men volunteered. After Davy Crockett was killed at the Alamo, many Tennesseans saw this as an opportunity to for revenge. After that, the nickname stuck and they have many things named for it like sports teams.
Graceland is in Memphis Tennessee and was once the home of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Graceland was once part of a 500-acre farm owned by the S.E. Toof family. It had been in the family for generations. In 1939, the mansion was built and became a well-known site in Memphis. In 1957, when Elvis was 22, he purchased the home and grounds for just over $100,000. Elvis died there in 1977. In order to help maintain the estate, it was opened to the public in 1982. They eventually expanded by buying nearby shopping centers and a hotel. You can also stay the night there. Graceland is the second most visited house in the country, after the White House, and gets around 650,000 visitors a year. It is now owned by Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis’ daughter.
The electric green soda was invented in Tennessee by two brothers, Barney and Ally Hartman. They had moved to Knoxville from Georgia in the late 1930s and could not find their favorite mixer for whiskey locally, so they decided to create their own. They created a carbonated lemon-lime drink and when mixed with whiskey, it tasted a bit like moonshine. They decided to call it Mountain Dew which was slang for moonshine. At first, they just used it themselves but eventually they tried to market and sell it. They struggled for years to get people interested in it and even tried selling it to Coco-Cola. They eventually ended up selling it to the Tip Corporation. The Tip Corporation tweaked the recipe a bit by adding lemonade and people finally started buying it. In 1964, it was sold to Pepsi. Now, it is one of the most popular sodas.
Reelfoot Lake is a natural lake in Northwest Tennessee. It was formed in 1811-1812 during the New Madrid earthquakes that were centered near New Madrid, Missouri. They were a series of powerful earthquakes that changed many landforms and could be felt as far as Quebec. It was named for the legend of a Chickasaw chief who was called Reelfoot due to a deformed foot. Reelfoot Lake is known as the “Turtle Capital of the World”. It has thousands of sliders, stinkpots and mud-and-map turtles. If you are a lover if turtles then this is a place you should see.
Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry is the world’s longest running radio program. It has been on for nearly 100 years and has always been broadcasted from Nashville, Tennessee. It got its start in 1925, as the WSM Barn Dance. The name was changed to the Grand Ole Opry in 1927. The show before WSM Barn Dance was classical music selections from grand opera. As the show was being introduced the guest George Hay said, “For the past hour, we have been listening to music largely from Grand Opera, but from now on, we will present ‘The Grand Ole Opry’.” As the live audience for the show grew, so did the need for a larger venue. The venue changed every couple of years until it settled at the Ryman Auditorium in 1943. It stayed there until 1974, when the Grand Ole Opry House opened. Regular performers are inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and it is considered a great honor.