Road Trip: Franklin, Tennessee

Franklin, Tennessee.

I mentioned that it sounded like a good road trip after I read the Robert Hicks book The Widow of the South this past summer. It is south of Nashville on I-65 – about an eight hour drive – and has a darling “historic downtown” area, in addition to the Confederate Cemetery as described in the novel. Also, I needed two more nights at a Marriott to maintain my Elite Status for 2010.

The Marriott was actually in the new end of town – Cool Springs/Brentwood. Office campuses, new townhouses, that kind of thing. The closer you come to downtown Franklin the more you see that odd mix of ginormous homes right next to little bungalows.
This park/circle is in the intersection of Main Street and ….I think 3rd street. No one was hanging out in it. I was going to go find out who the subject of the statue is, but I felt like a big dork crossing traffic to do so. As if I didn’t look enough like a Yankee Tourist. I am guessing it is a Confederate General, so my stab in the dark is John Bell Hood. I could probably look that up on the Internet, but am too lazy.
I visited Carnton Plantation, subject of the novel and home of the aforementioned cemetery. The first thing to note is that “Carnton Lane” is now a subdivision filled with McMansions. The old house is at the end and I was driving through this street with the stately looking trees I was wondering just what exactly was torn down to make way for those houses.
I was the only out of state car in the parking lot, so I figured I would be alone for the tour.
Side Note: Illinoisans are great road trippers. I always see other cars from Illinois when I am on the road. Even factoring in some margin for error – that I am more likely to notice a plate from my own state when I am on the road – I think our numbers are still higher than average. Texans are everywhere, too. In fact:
Just as I started my tour a couple of Texans pulled in and we waited for them to join us. I think the tour guide said they get about 250 visitors on the average Saturday in the summer and last Saturday they had only 19.
Anyway, Carnton was a field hospital for Confederate soldiers during the Battle of Franklin (November, 1864). Much is made of the bloodstains that can be seen on the hardwood floors. Apparently, the floors had been carpeted, so they were not washed properly until the carpets were torn up and by then the stains were already set. A few years later, the McGavock family, who lived there, donated two acres of their backyard to become the permanent resting place for some 4500 soldiers that died during the Battle. The not-for-profit that runs the place (Hicks is a member) has done a fine job of restoring it considering a (different) private family lived there as late as … I want to say 1977.
One thing I found fascinating was that the old kitchen from the side of the house was destroyed by a tornado in the early 1900s. It was never rebuilt and you can still see the ruins. Just that part of the house. There is also a dead tree nearby that made me wonder if that was the path the tornado took.  I thought I took a picture of that, because it was interesting to look at, but apparently not.
Then I went out to the cemetery. It looked like a cemetery. It was divided by state and had only numbers and initials listed on the stones. But I did pick up the history book in the gift shop that give more details on who the men were and where they came from. Autographed, of course.  I am fascinated by these old, old grounds where there is always someone that keeps bringing flowers to another who died a century before. These weren’t fresh or anything, but hardly vintage 1870, either.  I wonder if the staff leaves them just to get people to look up the names.  I’d pull a stunt like that if I worked there.  Although, I guess if I was local and had an ancestor buried there, I might bring something pretty every once in awhile just because I could.  Anyway.
Then, I went shopping.  And that was the end of my road trip.  I stopped at Fair Oaks Dairy Farm on the way home.  It wasn’t lunch time yet (they have the best grilled cheese sandwich in All the Land), but I picked up some cheese and a chocolate milk.  Shout out to Joy’s Mom who first told me to stop there when we were headed to Indianapolis for a meeting last summer.  Since my first trip, they have put in a gas station, which gave me an extra excuse to stop.
Now then.  Where to next?

One Comment on “Road Trip: Franklin, Tennessee

  1. I envy you the freedom (and relative proximity) to be able to visit Carnton. I too am impressed by Hicks's work, especially A Separate Country, which (shameless plug) I reviewed upon its release for The Miami Herald.'s really a great read, and if you liked Widow of the South you'll undoubtedly like this as well.Happy Roading! (And Happy 2010!)-JH.

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