Today the Homeschool Express rolls to a stop next to Union Station in our hometown of Nashville Tennessee. It’s the same train station that my father took me to when I was a young boy. By that time, passenger trains in Nashville were on their way out because automobiles and airline travel had become much more popular than passenger trains. And sure enough, the last Amtrak passenger train pulled out of Union Station way back in 1979. Today, Union Station is a hotel, but the train tracks are still very busy, so we’ll pull over on a side track and take a short walk to the state capital high on a hill in Nashville. Because today, we’re going to talk about Tennessee.
The area now known as Tennessee was first inhabited by Native American Paleo-Indians for thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived. The first recorded European excursions into what is now called Tennessee were three expeditions led by Spanish explorers, the first of whom as Hernando de Soto in 1540.
In the 1760s, hunters from Virginia explored much of East and Middle Tennessee, and the first permanent European soon thereafter. And in 1796, Tennessee became the 16th state.
Nashville and Memphis Are the Largest Cities in Tennessee
The largest cities in the state are Memphis, and Nashville. Nashville is not only the capital of Tennessee, it’s also the world capital of country music. So, it’s no surprise that Nashville is known as Music City.
Memphis, which is located on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, is also known for its music. Memphis has been called the “Home of the Blues” because so many famous blues artists played on Memphis’s famous Beale Street. And Memphis is also known as the “Birthplace of Rock and Roll,” thanks, in part, to the pioneering artists like Elvis Presley who recorded there.
Other large cities in Tennessee include Chattanooga and Knoxville, which is a gateway city to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the country’s most visited national park.
Three U.S. Presidents Were From Tennessee
Three U.S. presidents called Tennessee home. They are:
- Andrew Jackson (The 7th President, Pictured Here)
- James K. Polk (The 11th President, Pictured on the Right)
- Andrew Johnson (The 17th President
Fact #1: Tennessee got its name from the Native American word “Tana-see,” which means “the meeting place.”
Fact #2: Graceland, which was Elvis Presley’s home in Memphis, is still one of the most highly visited homes in the country, even though the man they called “The King of Rock and Roll” died way back in 1977.
Fact #3: Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State because of its high number of volunteers during the War of 1812. That’s when lots of men signed up to serve under Andrew Jackson the Battle of New Orleans.
Fact #4: Andrew Jackson, whose picture is on a $20 bill, lived near Nashville at a place called The Hermitage.
Fact #5: Sweetwater, TN is home to the country’s largest underground lake. It’s a tourist attraction called the Lost Sea.
Fact #6: Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry is the longest continuously running live radio program in the world. This country music broadcast has aired every Friday and Saturday night since 1925.
Just for fun, see if you can answer these questions.
What is the capital of Tennessee? Is it Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, or Chattanooga?
Nashville is the capital of Tennessee.
How many United States presidents were from Tennessee? Was it 2, 3, 4 or 5?
3 United States presidents were from Tennessee.
Graceland is the name of the mansion Elvis Presley lived in. Is it located in Memphis, Nashville, Chatanooga, or Tupelo?
Graceland is located in Memphis.
Which Tennessee President's picture is on the $20 bill? Is it Jackson, Polk, or Johnson?
Andrew Jackson’s picture is a $20 bill.
If you have time, you can write a story of your own.
Here are a couple of story ideas you can choose from.
Idea #1: You can write a brief story about some of the cool things you learned about Tennessee.
Idea #2: Pick a famous Tennessean. Then, imagine what it would be like to inverview that person. If you could ask one question, what would it be?
To help you write a great story, we have some helpful hints and timely tips.
Check out “10 Tips for Writing Better Essays.”
Here's a riddle for you:
What's green, and leafy, and sings?