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Tennessee

Andrew Harper's Travel Guide

Tennessee played a central role in the country’s heritage as an early site of frontier expansion, the main battleground in the western theater of the Civil War, a proving ground for civil rights struggles and a locus for musical innovation. The “Volunteer State” divides ...

Tennessee played a central role in the country’s heritage as an early site of frontier expansion, the main battleground in the western theater of the Civil War, a proving ground for civil rights struggles and a locus for musical innovation. The “Volunteer State” divides naturally into three geographic areas: mountainous East Tennessee, the rolling hills and basin of Middle Tennessee, and the low plain of the west. 

Tennessee’s two largest cities rank among the country’s most important centers of music. Nashville, the state capital, is the historic heart of the nation’s country music (and modern Christian pop and rock) scene, and, in the west, Memphis boasts musical shrines such as Sam Phillips’ Sun Studio and Elvis Presley’s Graceland estate. 

But it is the serenity of Tennessee’s extraordinary natural spaces that draws me back again and again. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in the southern Appalachians bordering North Carolina, is America’s most visited national park, but its 800 square miles of gently contoured peaks afford plenty of quiet sanctuaries.  

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