(C) 2002-2014 J. Watson All rights reserved
|North Carolina to California Mid country
|WHAT TO EXPECT
You’ll visit the largest residence in America, climb the Appalachians, learn
about the Manhattan Project and visit a Presidential library. Then you’ll take
in the many points of interest that chronicle the development of the nation as
well as the civilizations that preceded the arrival of the “white man”. All this
plus volcano cones and even a meteor that really shook up this ol’ planet.
You’ll walk into cliff dwellings, see hundreds of petroglyphs as well as visit
frontier forts and see pioneer artifacts. Much of the route is desert with a
variety of cacti, grasses, and sagebrush and other ground cover. Maybe you’ll
try your luck at Las Vegas or the numerous casinos along the Mississippi.
As you read this you may wish to trace the route on your road map.
From Wilmington you can head east to Charlotte on US-74 or
north to Raleigh on I-40. Both routes will take you to ...
Also fun – ride in a hot air balloon. They’re great fun and take
off every morning and evening. You go where the wind takes
you – ours went over the vineyards at the Biltmore Estate on a
hazy morning. Or, check out the white water rafting in the nearby
If interested, the Cherokee Indians have a large casino in
Cherokee – it’s growing every day. The southern terminus of
the Blue Ridge Parkway, photo, is at Cherokee, just inside the
Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
RVers should note that the southern end of the Blue Ridge
Parkway has tunnels with low clearance.
In Cherokee visit the Museum of the Cherokee People that
traces the development of the Cherokee culture from over ten
centuries before the arrival of Europeans.
Head north on the Blue Ridge Parkway. See Route K to
avoid the coastal areas, which are hot and humid during
the summer. This route is noted for vivid fall color.
Continuing west on I-40 you are going up into the
Appalachian Mountains. RVers should note that going
eastbound there are steep grades — use caution going
down. This is the approach to the...
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which you can enter at
Gatlinburg, TN or Cherokee, NC. Marvelous views are endless
— enjoy nature in this large eastern park with a diversity of
plants and wildlife. Climb to the top of Clingmans Dome.
RVers should be aware of the steep long grades on
US-441, which transverses the park from Gatlinburg, TN
to Cherokee, NC.
Pigeon Forge is south of I-40. This is home to Dollywood and
other great country music. Worth visiting—much like Branson,
Oak Ridge. This is the “secret city” of WW2 where the A-bomb
was developed as part of the "Manhattan Project". A visit would
give you an appreciation of the work that was done with tools that
in retrospect are primitive. The city was so secret that it did not
appear on maps until after the war. At that time this was a
remote location, quite a distance from cities or main roads. You
can see the reactor and production buildings. Then west to...
Southwest of Nashville you can take the Natchez Trace
Parkway that is a scenic route to Natchez, Mississippi.
See below alternate. Also, if you get to Memphis you can
visit the Mississippi casinos that are a few miles south
along the river.
ALTERNATE TENNESSEE TO COASTAL
Natchez Trace Parkway. This is certainly one of the
nicer roads in America — gentle curves, little traffic,
grand views and reminders of the nation’s history. Stop
at the numerous pull offs and learn of the history —
fascinating. This follows an Indian trail (trace) that goes
back hundreds of years before the arrival of the
Europeans. In the early 1800s loggers floated logs from
Tennessee down the Mississippi River to Natchez and
returned on foot or horseback on the trail. Take a walk
on the old worn trail.
Along the way, you will see numerous antebellum
plantations that welcome visitors. A tour of at least one
of these is worthwhile
Before the Parkway leaves Alabama, you can head west
into Mississippi on US-72 to...
Corinth. This was the location of a significant Civil War
battle that cost the South the last railroad connection
with the east. Visit the interpretive center. A few miles
north, in Tennessee, is Shiloh National Military Park
(photo), scene of another bloody battle.
Returning to the Natchez Trace Parkway, continue south
and go into the many pull-offs.
A few miles north of Jackson is the largest of several
mounds, photo, along the Parkway built by an early
civilization for religious purposes (probably 1,400 to
2,000 years ago) . And west of Jackson is...
Vicksburg. Visit Vicksburg National Military Park.
This was the scene of the bloody battle to determine the
control of the Mississippi River that was the lifeblood of
the Confederacy. The river split the Confederate states
so they had to transport necessary supplies across the
river. The carnage on both sides of the battle was
staggering. You can tour the battlefield and view
numerous memorials placed by states to honor their
troops. These are interspersed among the sites of unit
The USS Cairo, one of six Union battleships that
participated in the battle, was the first ship ever sunk by
a “torpedo” (mine). It was recovered from the river silt
and is now on display at the battlefield (photo). You will
see the paddle wheels, engine and much of the hull with
its heavy armor plate.
Going south on the Parkway and then south on US-61
St. Francisville. We toured Rosedown Plantation State
Historic Site, (photo) which you approach by way of a
stately live oak avenue. It reflects the graciousness of
the pre-Civil War era that was made possible by the
work of many slaves. This was the crème de la crème
of society as most plantations were smaller with a dozen
or so slaves who worked side by side with the plantation
owners. Most people farmed by themselves with no help
outside the family. This is one of the many plantations
that are open to the public. Then south on US-61 to …
Route I that goes from Gulf Coast to California-
along the border
Asheville. The highlight of the city is the
Biltmore Estate which was built by George
Vanderbilt in the mid 1890s. With 255 rooms
it is the largest residence in the US - a
showplace. In our opinion it is only
surpassed in the US by the Hearst Castle's
opulence (see Route A). The Asheville area
has experienced substantial growth, some of
which is attributed to its appeal to retirees.