This past weekend, Morristown, TN, midway between Knoxville and Johnson City, played host to the Vietnam Moving Wall. A half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, the Moving Wall has been traveling around the U.S. since 1984.
The picture above is of Main Street in Jonesborough, the oldest town in Tennessee. Jonesborough, founded in 1779, during the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, pre-dates Tennessee as a state, and was established as the capital of Washington County, North Carolina.
Tennessee itself finally gained statehood in 1796, with Knoxville, located in the eastern third of the state, serving at the state’s first capital. As Tennessee – and the U.S. – expanded westward, the capital eventually moved to Nashville. But the earliest seeds in what later became known as “The Volunteer State” were sown in and around Knoxville. Nearly all of the state’s pre-Civil War towns still exist. The luckiest thrive as tourism towns for history buffs, day trippers, and antiques collectors. Jonesborough, which I wrote about in more detail last August, is just one of several. Here are four more.
Tennessee is gorgeous in the fall. The eastern third of the state, which sees the Smoky Mountains rise to heights of almost 7,000 feet, is stunning. The fall colors peaked just last week, and as you remark about the crisp weather and the fallen leaves, don’t be surprised when you discover that fall’s harvest season carries with it a sense of community and, in rural parts of the state, a throw-back to simpler times.
I have spent the last two weekends taking in a sampling of this culture firsthand, albeit in somewhat of a staged environment. Mountain Makins’ is an annual fall festival of music, arts and crafts, and food. The Museum of Appalachia, meanwhile, is an open-air museum of highland culture that ranks as one of the best folk museums in the world.