When you sign up for the Mint Julep Experiences Tennessee Whiskey Legends tour, you can expect our tour guides to give you a whiskey history lesson on your ride. But did you know the small towns you pass on your tour are deep-rooted in Civil War and early American history?
For example, did you know that Murfreesboro, our halfway point between Nashville and Lynchburg, was once the state capital of Tennessee from 1818 to 1826, when it was replaced by Nashville?
Below we’ve compiled some noteworthy history about Murfreesboro and other small towns in Middle Tennessee you’ll pass on your Nashville whiskey tour — for the history buffs that want to know something about the area they’re driving through, and for the people who enjoy a good glass of Tennessee whiskey.
Retire in Smyrna
Smyrna, a 23-mile town of less than 40,000, has been ranked in 2007 as one of the best places to retire by U.S. News & World Report and again in 2016 by Forbes Magazine. Smyrna is also home to the largest Nissan manufacturing facility in the country, producing the Nissan Leaf since 2012.
Smyrna has European-American roots in the early 19th century and its railroad station served as a crucial point between Chattanooga and Nashville. During the Civil War, Confederate Spy Sam Davis, who chose to die instead of giving up information to the Union, was captured on November 20th, 1863. His plantation, the Sam Davis Plantation, resides on 160 acres of maintained farmland and remains one of Smyrna’s most historical sites.
Other notable Smyrna natives include musician Townes Van Zandt and Jalen Ramsey, NFL cornerback for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Murfreesboro in the Middle
Murfreesboro has deep roots in American Civil War history. Originally called “Cannonsburgh” for Newton Cannon, Rutherford County’s state legislative member, it was later renamed to Murfreesboro for Revolutionary War hero Colonel Hardy Murfree.
On December 31, 1862, the Battle of Stones River (also called the Battle of Murfreesboro) took place near the city between the Union Army of the Cumberland and the Confederate Army of Tennessee. This battle was a major event of the Civil War and was the bloodiest battle of the war. The Stones River Battlefield is now a historical site.
Since the Civil War, Murfreesboro has recovered and seen a tremendous increase in growth. It is considered the fastest growing city in Tennessee and one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, growing 123% from 1990 to 2010. It’s also been ranked in 2006 as one of the best places to live according to Money magazine.
Shelbyville, Walking Horse Capital
Shelbyville is considered “The Pencil City,” because, to this day, it remains a center for wood-cased pencil manufacturing. Sanford Corporation, the creator of the Sharpie, produces this top-selling writing instrument in the city.
In 1939, Shelbyville introduced the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, an annual celebration that gives over $650,000 in prizes and awards for its events. It’s the largest event in the world for the Tennessee Walking Horse, during which the World Grand Champion is named.
Walking horses were first bred in Middle Tennessee for their efficiency on limestone farms and plantations. In 2000, walking horses were named the official state horse of Tennessee.
Tullahoma and George Dickel
Tullahoma, oftentimes your lunch stop in the Tennessee Whiskey Legends tour, is home to Cascade Hollow Distilling Company, which produces George Dickel whiskey. During your lunch stop, you’ll tour Cascade Hollow and experience a tasting of George Dickel whiskey.
Tullahoma is a quaint town of less than 20,000 in the Coffee and Franklin counties of Middle Tennessee. Besides being the home of the George Dickel distillery, Tullahoma is renowned for its performing arts groups, home to the annual 41A Music Festival, Fine Arts Center and Community Playhouse, Inc.
In 1863, Tullahoma served as the headquarters for the Confederate Army of Tennessee. That same year, Union forces took control of Tullahoma and stayed there for the remainder of the war. Tullahoma’s origin is said to hail from the Greek words, ‘Tulla,’ meaning mud and ‘Homa,’ meaning more mud.
Lynchburg, Home of Jack Daniels
Lynchburg is home to Jack Daniel Distillery and the destination for your Nashville whiskey tour. Read more about the story and history of Jack Daniel and the distillery, on our blog. Did you know, outside of the distillery, that Lynchburg’s home county of Moore is a dry county? The Jack Daniel’s Distillery has a deep-rooted history in Tennessee whiskey, you can read more on other Tennessee whiskey distilleries and what the Tennessee Whiskey Trail is on our blog. If you’re more of a southern craft distillery fan, you’ll want to check out our guide to our favorite Tennessee craft distilleries or book our Rising Stars Craft Distillery Tour.
Famous residents of Lynchburg include musician and artist Little Richard, who currently resides there, and American frontiersman Davy Crockett, who lived in Lynchburg from 1811-1813. NFL footballers Bobby, Shirley and Johnny Majors also live in Lynchburg.
More Than Just Whiskey
Tennessee is home to an incredible American history (and mighty fine whiskey, too). Now, when you take our Tennessee Whiskey Legends tour to Jack Daniel’s and George Dickel or our Jack Daniel’s Distillery and Hometown Lynchburg Experience tour, and you pass these small towns and understand how they’ve been shaped over time. We say a good history lesson pairs well with whiskey, don’t you think?
Mint Julep Experiences in Nashville is an upscale destination management tour company where you get to experience the culture and craftsmanship of Tennessee. Find the best Tennessee whiskey on your adventure from Nashville to the Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg or other popular Tennessee Whiskey Trail tour destinations. We also specialize in putting together exclusive custom tours for groups. Call us at 615-436-0187 to put together a specialized tour for your group.