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More on Tennessee

Tennessee is my home state but I have visited only a small part of it. I’ve only been as far west in the state as Cookeville. That visit to Cookeville was to see my niece graduate from Tennessee Technological University. Her younger brother also graduated from that prestigious school. Anyway there is a lot of the state that I’ve never had the privilege to travel to. My aim is to visit more of my home state as I have the opportunity.
I think it’s because I haven’t traveled my home state much that I have read about it so much. I’ve writ-ten about Tennessee’s history several times in this column. But, in this column I want to concentrate not so much on the state’s history but on its special attributes and oddities.
As I mentioned in last week’s column, Tennessee is a long state that reaches from a part of the Appalachian Mountain Chain to the Mississippi River. Tennessee has the Unaka Mountains to the east. Unaka is a Cherokee word meaning “white.” The Appalachians have been worn down through erosion over time and are low mountains compared to the Rockies in the West.
I found that Tennessee is one of only two states that has eight states that border it: Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri and Kentucky. Missouri is the only other state that has eight states bordering it.
One of the unique things about the state is that the Tennessee River flows south through west Tennessee and then flows north into East Tennessee.
I found that the length of the state is about 432 miles from east to west and 106 miles from north to south. But if the measuring is done diagonally from Mountain City to Memphis it is over 500 miles.
The Tennessee State Flag is interesting. It has a blue circle enclosing three white stars on a background of red. The three stars represent the three grand divisions of the state. Due to the diversity of its three distinct geographical divisions, at one time the state was billed as the “Three States of Tennessee,” The concept of the three states of Tennessee was abandoned in the ‘80s to promote the unity of the state. Tennessee is 34th in size in the United States.
There are several rivers in Tennessee. Among them are the Tennessee, the Cumber-land and the Mississippi. Smaller rivers include the Clinch and the Duck.
To add to Tennessee’s uniqueness, Reelfoot Lake in the Northwestern section of the state has a very interesting history. In December 1811 –January 1812 an extremely large and violent earthquake occurred along the New Madrid fault causing the Mississippi River to flow backwards into a low-lying area, forming Reelfoot Lake. The quake was so severe that church bells rang as far away as Boston. Now that is powerful.
As everyone knows, the oldest settlement in Tennessee is Trade while the old-est town is Jonesborough.
Bristol has the distinction of being the “Birthplace of Country Music.” Ralph Peer of the Victor Record Company set up a recording session and recorded a number of future country music icons such as the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. That session is credited with arousing an interest in country music so much so that music of that genre be-came commercially viable. Of course, we must not for-get Nashville and its importance to the state. Nash-ville, called “Music City USA,” is home to the Grand Ole Opry, a radio program that began in 1925 and continues to this day. Of course Memphis is home to the blues that was originated in the 1920s.
Whether we’re from Mountain City, Memphis, or anywhere else in the state, we have a great heritage. Our forefathers were brave people, who through much hardship, suffering and per-severance, have left us a great state in which to live. May it ever be a bulwark of freedom and independence.