So what does one do in Nashville? One visits the Grand Ole Opry!
Although we are not big country music fans, the backstage Opry tour was really fun and interesting. By the time you step on stage, and onto the famed six foot wooden circle, your knowledge of country music history is considerable. The building itself is the second location for the Opry (the Ryman Auditorium building being the first) and was built just for the Opry’s needs. For those of you from our generation, the TV show Hee Haw was filmed on location. For those of you who are fans of the TV show Nashville, many scenes have been filmed in the building including in the “Women of Country” dressing room where 2 of the female co-stars first meet (sorry, can’t remember names as we don’t watch the show….yet). The tour includes the “Stars” entrance, the dressing rooms, members plaques and mailboxes, green room, and of course, the stage. The wooden circle is a 6 foot section of wood stage salvaged from the Ryman Auditorium and inserted into the center of the current Opry’s stage. Everyone from Little Jimmy Dickens to Carrie Underwood have performed on that piece of wood so of course, for $25, you can purchase a picture of you (“and your party”) standing in the circle.
Prior to arriving in Nashville, we stopped for a cave tour at Mammoth Cave National Park. If you have been following us from the beginning, you know how we love a good cave tour. Mammoth Caves are the world’s largest cave system with over 400 miles of explored caves to date. Our tour covered about 2 miles. We had a great tour guide with a fantastic Kentucky accent who made the tour a lot of fun. These caves are different from the other tours we have done in that they do not have formations. Water does not seep into most of the cave system due to a roof of sandstone, so you do not find many stalactites, etc. The tour did, however, take us through formations such as fat man’s misery and tall man’s misery…..use your imaginations!
Our time in Nashville did include some great food including a Cinco de Mayo dinner at Chuy’s.
Today we stopped at Shiloh National Military Park on our way to Memphis. Shiloh is well known for being one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. In April, 1862 General Grant was preparing his troops at Pittsburg Landing for an assault on Corinth MS, the location of a key railroad hub for the Confederacy. Grant was also waiting for General Don Carlos Buell’s army (Ohio) to arrive from Nashville before moving on Corinth. Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnson decided that he could surprise Grant by attacking the union troops at their encampment at Pittsburgh Landing prior to Buell’s troops arrival. The result was 2 days of fierce fighting with Johnson’s army winning the first day (although he was killed in battle), and Grant’s army regrouping (with help from Buell who arrived early) and winning the battle on day two, thus forcing the confederates to retreat back to Corinth, where they eventually had to abandon the city after a siege. The battle gets it’s name from Shiloh Church, which was a well known building on the battlefield. The battlefield is extremely well preserved with literally hundreds of monuments honoring the various regiments (including many for the Illinois 9th infantry) who participated in the battle. The driving tour includes stops at “The Hornet’s Nest”, Shiloh Church, mass confederate grave sites, site where General Johnson died, Bloody Pond, and all the fields of battle. The visitor’s center has a great film describing the events as well.
Casualties (2 days): 23,746 (3,482 killed, 16,420 wounded, and 3,844 missing and captured).
The site is a bit out of the way but well worth the effort for those interested in Civil War History.
Arrived in Memphis this evening. Staying at the Westin Memphis Beale Street. Had a great rib dinner at The Blues City Cafe.
We are stuffed and ready for bed. Oh, one more picture……………