Tennessee History and Heritage

History & Heritage in Tennessee

Tennessee's rich history abounds - in its architecture, its parks, its battle sites, and in its many museums.

The Civil War took place from 1861 to 1865, from east to west, and Tennessee saw a flurry of activity, resulting in hundreds of historic sites to explore.

With a rich tapestry of American heritage, Tennessee’s historical grounds are sure to enlighten you. Journey along the historical roads and trails for a stroll into Tennessee’s legendary past and visit one of the many Civil War Sites. Tour Tennessee’s heritage towns, and immerse yourself in the state’s diverse past from Davy Crockett to Elvis Presley. Stand on the hallowed grounds of Tennessee’s battlefields and historic parks. Visit museums for an overview of this pioneering state. Explore African American and Native American culture from the past to present day. 

Nashville has a pristine collection of antebellum, pre-Civil War, estate mansions from Belle Meade where a string of winning thoroughbreds was raised to The Hermitage, presidential home of Andrew Jackson and Belmont Mansion which is drenched in Victorian grandeur. You can tour the beautifully restored hilltop State Capitol building, then walk down to the educational Tennessee State Museum for a better understanding of the state's history and culture.

Locted just 16 miles from Nashville is Franklin. Visitors from around the world come to explore the Civil War sites and delve into Franklin's history. Combining 100 years of history with the latest in modern delights, it's easy to see why travellers continue to fall in love with Franklin, Tennessee. 

The Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park's Point Park, located on the highest point of Lookout Mountain and overlooking the Tennessee River and downtown, hosted two of the most important battles of the American Civil War – September 1863 Battle Above the Clouds and the November 1863 Battles for Chattanooga. In 1890, US President Benjamin Harrison signed legislation declaring it America's first military park, and it remains the largest of its kind today. Watch for celebrations of the 150th Anniversary in 2011.

In 1896, Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary started as a jail and coal mine for Tennessee and was to become the home of some of the nation’s most dangerous prisoners including the likes of Paul Dennis Reid, James Earl Ray -  convicted of assassinating Martin Luther King Jr at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis – along with many others. Today, this former high security prison is open to the public for self-guided tours, but paranormal tours also take place where visitors have heard footsteps, disembodied voices and seen apparitions. Though the death penalty was never carried out here, inmates have died of natural causes and at the hands of other inmates within these walls and guests have reported being shoved, touched and even scratched by invisible forces. For the extremely brave, there is even a overnight stay option….for more information visit and be sure to check out the Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary distillery and try some ‘End of the Line Tennessee Moonshine’. 

The uprooting of Native American tribes is one of the most shameful periods in US history. But this dark era is being recalled with new light in Tennessee. Sara Nelson, from the Daily Mail, reports in her article America's Trail of Tears: Tracing the fall and rise of the Cherokee Indians in Tennessee.

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