Friday, December 24, 2010

Star Of the South

Magnet # 424:  Nashville Letters

Material:  Rubber

Purchased By:  Mom

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the day in 1779 when a pair of settlers who had ventured forth from northwestern North Carolina completed their two month journey at the banks of the Cumberland River.  There, they cleared the area and built a home of logs that they named Fort Nashborough after American Revolutionary War General Francis Nash.  In less than a year, 60 families had arrived at the fort, which was still part of North Carolina.  It continued to grow and was eventually renamed Nashville when it was incorporated as a town in 1784.  Eventually, North Carolina gave control of its lands west of the Allegheny Mountains to the federal government and they went on to form the state of Tennessee.  With its strategic location both on the river and at the end of the Natchez Trace, Nashville became an important center of business and shipping in the middle of what was mostly expansive, undeveloped wilderness.  Its reputation grew greater still when its native son Andrew Jackson went on to become a war hero and President of the United States.  In 1843, it became the state capitol and Nashville also came to be known as the Athens of the South for its public school system, the first in the region, and its numerous higher learning institutions.  Its citizens were some of the South's wealthiest, best educated, and most refined.  But the Civil War proved to be difficult for the growing city, as it was the first Confederate state capitol to fall to Union forces and remained in its grasp despite efforts to take it back years later.  While the city was pretty damaged by all of the warfare, it nonetheless rebuilt and more than tripled its population by 1900.  It became one of the leading trade centers of the region.  Later on, it also became known as an important site of the early days Civil Rights movement, but its reputation as "Music City USA" is perhaps what most defines modern day Nashville.  In 1925, the Grand Ole Opry was first aired and it has become a Nashville institution.  Nashville is also a publishing center for music, perhaps most notably the country and Christian genres.  Far from its humble beginnings, this city has gone on to become one of the most prosperous and unique the Upper South has to offer.

Given Nashville's founding on Christmas Day, the city ought to be a pretty merry place to visit during the Holiday season nowadays.  And at least one particular spot in the area has gained national attention for its Holiday spectacular - the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.  I've recently mentioned another of this chain's resort hotels in the Dallas area on here, and this one is no less impressive.  It throws an event known as A Country Christmas, which features around two million Christmas lights, hundreds of poinsettias, and all sorts of incredible Holiday decorations.  Thousands come from all over the world to take part in the festivities, which is now in its 27th year.  And this year, both the Radio City Rockettes and Louise Mandrel will perform for delighted audiences.  There's also an intricate, interactive ice sculpture world to amaze them, an elaborate outdoor Nativity, and an area filled with real snow, live reindeer, a snow maze, and much more.  Guests can even kick off the day with a special Kris Kringle breakfast in the Solario restaurant on the premises and end it with a visit from a staff elf who will tuck them in and read them the classic "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."  The festivities opened on November 19th and will continue through January 2nd, so you haven't missed all of the fun yet.  While I've never gotten a chance to see the Gaylord Opryland myself, my Mom has been there, both for A Country Christmas, which she assures me was beautiful, and other times of the year.  I hope I'll get the chance to return to Nashville around the anniversary of its founding one year and see this special place, as well as other Christmas attractions that Music City, USA no doubt has to offer.

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