Sightseeing

The following photographs and descriptions are the work of Nicole Lewis and appear on her handmade note cards, soon to be available for purchase at Wild Duck Soup Emporium on the Cetnerville Public Square. Nicole was inspired to create these cards for her friends and family after moving to Grinders Switch 6 years ago. These cards detail many of Hickman County’s historical and natural landmarks.

Hickman Springs

Hickman Springs Road, Centerville, TN
From the center of town, take Highway 100 East and just after you pass the Duck River take a left onto Hickman Springs Road. Follow the road, forking to the right, until you start to feel the air turn cooler; listen and look carefully through the leaves (depending on the time of year) and you will find Hickman Springs down a hill and set back amongst the trees. Hickman County boasts more natural springs and scenic waterfalls than any other county in Tennessee.
photograph by Nicole Lewis © 2006

Minnie Pearl Memorial Statue


South Public Square, Centerville, TN

Minnie Pearl, Centerville’s most famous resident stands proudly as a bronze statue in the town’s turn-of-the-century public square. Born Sarah Ophelia Colley, she created the character Minnie Pearl who she played on the Grand Ole Opry stage for more than 50 years and was the first comedian inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1975. You can still hear her signature greeting, “How-DEEE!” ring through the air waves every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. on the Grinder’s Switch Radio Hour. It is broadcast from the Grinder’s Switch Center in the public square by KIX 96.7 and features live local musicians and snippets from Minnie’s recorded comedy routines.
photograph by Nicole Lewis © 2006. Shortly after this photograph was taken, traffic around the Centerville Public Square was rerouted and the Minnie Pearl Memorial Statue was removed. A  project is now underway to commission a new life sized bronze of our beloved local celebrity. Please see more information about the “Bring Minnie Home” project on the Grinders Switch Foundation’s website.

DuckRiver Cools Cattle on a Hot Summer Day

Highway 230, Little Lot, TN
The Duck River is a great place to cool off on a hot summer’s day, go fishing or lazily float downstream. It winds through the middle of Tennessee for 269 miles flowing west and eventually into the Tennessee River (a part of it which is called Kentucky Lake); it is the longest river entirely contained within the state. The Nature Conservancy has declared The Duck River as the second most aquatic “hot spot” in the nation. The river hosts 140 different species of fish and 50 species of mussels—quite an amazing variety. Up river towards Columbia is a 37 mile stretch of The Duck that has been declared a Tennessee Scenic River.
photograph by Nicole Lewis © 2006

Grinder’s Switch Garden of Fame

979 Grinder’ s Switch Road, Centerville, TN
Honored at the Hickman County Agriculture Pavilion are three of Hickman County’s most famous residents: Minnie Pearl, Del Reeves and Blake Shelton. The Ag Pavilion hosts many events throughout the year including Pullin’ at the Switch, The Grinder’s Switch Walking Horse Show, fireworks on Independence Day and the Hickman County Fair, as well as many concerts. It has something to offer for almost everyone! Go to www.hickmancoagpavillion.com for more information and a calendar of events.
photograph by Nicole Lewis © 2006

South Central Tennessee Railroad

Grinder’s Switch Road, Centerville, TN
Winding throughout Hickman County, these tracks still pass by the abandoned Grinder’s Switch depot where as a young child, Sarah Colley would stop with her father and hear the tall and colorful tales of the characters who would hang out here. This is where she gathered much of her material to eventually be used in her comedy routines when she became Minnie Pearl on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. You can hear that nostalgia when the train whistle blows as it slowly makes its way through town, often twice a day. In December, families gather to greet Santa Claus who arrives in Centerville by rail.
photograph by Nicole Lewis © 2006

Tarkington’s General Store

6688 Hassell’ s Creek Road, Lyles , TN
Opened in 1927, this general store is still family owned and operated. You can find a variety of items such as antiques, overalls, t-shirts and snacks including fried bologna sandwiches for sale. You can hear live music played by local musicians and songwriters every Saturday afternoon at 12 p.m. Hassell’s Creek runs across the road (literally) and behind the store where ducks happily paddle along. The front porch is usually inhabited by a lazy dog, a sunning cat and maybe even chicken. About fifteen minutes from Centerville, you can find directions online at www.musiccitybackyard.com —drive carefully as you approach the store, sometimes the dog prefers to lie in the middle of the road. This is definitely a real country store and you’ll be happy you made the trip! photograph by Nicole Lewis © 2006

Tulip Tree Bloom

Along Roads Sides , Centerville, TN
The Tulip Tree or Yellow-poplar is the official state tree of Tennessee. It is named for the tulip-like flowers that it bears in April and May. Standing tall around 80-120 feet it is part of the Magnolia family and dates back over 50 million years! It has broad, notched, squarish leaves and thick, grayish, ridged bark. Its wood is soft, can be easily worked and is used for pulp and manufactured articles. Tulip Trees can be found from Massachusetts to Indiana and southwards into the upper half of Florida.
photograph by Nicole Lewis © 2006

Baker Bluff Overlook

Mile post 405.1 along the Natchez Trace, near Shady Grove, TN Overlooking soft rolling hills of picturesque farmland acres and deciduous trees, Baker Bluff epitomizes middle Tennessee’s stunning beauty. Along the Natchez Trace there are numerous scenic views and overlooks such as this one. The northern terminus of the Natchez Trace begins in Nashville and travels about 445 miles south to Natchez, Mississippi. Originally a series of hunters’ paths, it was first mapped by the French in 1733. It was an important route for soldiers and travelers as well as farmers transporting their crops and goods by river on flat boats down to Natchez or New Orleans; before departing, they would sell their boats for lumber and travel home by foot or on horseback along the Natchez Trace. The Natchez Trace Parkway as we travel it today was completed in the 1930’s and parallels the old trace. There are areas where you can still access the original trace and explore it by foot or sometimes even drive along it. Historic sites, scenic views, hiking trails and picnic areas are well marked along the parkway.
photograph by Nicole Lewis © 2006

Birdsong Hollow Bridg

Mile post 438 along the Natchez Trace, crossing Highway 96, TN
This beautiful bridge is located near the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace, just west of Franklin. It stands 155 feet high and is 1572 feet long. Designed by the Figg Engineering Group and constructed by PCL Civil Constructors the bridge was completed and opened to traffic in 1994. The first American arch bridge to be constructed from segments of precast concrete, its innovative design eliminates the need for spandrel columns by carrying the bridge’s load on its double arches. It has won several awards including one from the National Endowment of the Arts; the Presidential Award for Design Excellence in 1995; and, an award from the 11th Annual Bridge Conference naming it Most Outstanding Achievement in Bridge Industry for 1994. It is difficult to fully appreciate the bridge as you are driving over it; to see it well you need to pull over at the Birdsong Hollow stop along the Natchez Trace and walk a short distance to view it through the trees or you can travel Highway 96 and drive directly under it. Read more by going to this website: http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net and enter Natchez Trace Parkway in the search window.
photograph by Nicole Lewis © 2006

The Gordon House and Ferry Site

Mile post 407.7 along the Natchez Trace, near Shady Grove, TN
John Gordon settled here in the early 1800’s making an agreement with Chickasaw Chief George Colbert to operate a trading post and ferry along the Duck River. Mr. Gordon was often away from home on military expeditions with General Andrew Jackson. While he was away, his wife Dorathea, oversaw the construction of the house. John Gordon died shortly after its completion in 1818 but Mrs. Gordon lived in the house till her death in 1859. One of the first brick homes in the area, it is also one of the few that still remains standing along the Natchez Trace. It was restored to its original appearance in 1978 by the National Park Service. A ten-minute walk from the house leads to the ferry site along the river.
photograph by Nicole Lewis © 2006

Robert Grinder’s Stand

Mile post 385.9 along the Natchez Trace, TN
Meriwether Lewis was serving as Governor of the Territory of Louisiana when on his way to Washington D.C., he stayed over at Robert Grinder’s Stand. This inn, or stand as it was called in the early 1800’s, was where Meriwether Lewis mysteriously lost his life from gun shot wounds on the night of October 11, 1809. Mrs. Grinder reported hearing two gun shots during the night but did not investigate out of fear. The next morning Lewis was found barely alive with wounds to his head and chest. At the age of 35, he died later that day. Historians still debate whether he took his own life or if he was murdered—the truth may never be realized. The inn is about 230 yards from the grave site of this great American explorer and now serves as a museum where you can learn about Meriwether Lewis’ remarkable life. Also located here is a 32-site campground, pioneer cemetery, picnic tables, ranger station, and walking trails. Located about seven miles east of Hohenwald, this park also hosts the annual Meriwether Lewis Crafts Fair during the second weekend in October.
photograph by Nicole Lewis © 2006

Meriwether Lewis Memorial

Mile post 385.9 along the Natchez Trace, TN
Located about seven miles east of Hohenwald, the state of Tennessee erected this monument over the grave site of Meriwether Lewis in 1848. Its design as a broken shaft represents the tragic and abrupt ending to the life of this great American explorer. On his way to Washington D.C. from Louisiana, where he was serving as Governor, he died of mysterious gun shot wounds while staying at Robert Grinder’s stand. Mrs. Grinder reported hearing two gun shots during the night but did not investigate out of fear. The next morning Lewis was found barely alive with wounds to his head and chest.  At the age of 35, Meriwether Lewis died later that day. The plaque in front of his monument reads:

Meriwether Lewis 1774–1809.
Beneath this monument erected under Legislative Act by the State
of Tennessee, A.D., 1848, reposes the dust of Meriwether Lewis. A Captain in the United States Army, Private Secretary to President Jefferson, Senior Commander of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and Governor of the Territory of Louisiana. In the Grinder House, the ruins of which are still discernible, 230 yards South of this spot, his life of romantic endeavor and lasting achievement came tragically and mysteriously to its close on the night of Oct. 11, 1809. The report of the Committee appointed to carry out the provisions of the Monument Act, contains these significant statements: “Great care was taken to identify the grave. George Nixon, Esq., an old Surveyor, had become very early acquainted with the locality. He pointed out the place; but to make assurance doubly sure the grave was re-opened and the upper portion of the skeleton examined and such evidence found as to leave no doubt of the place of interment.”
photograph by Nicole Lewis © 2006

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