As we move up the Tennessee River, through the river towns, signs explain we are traveling the Tennessee River Trail and much of that trail has to do with the Civil War. We spent an hour at the Savannah Museum and it was very comprehensive and well done. Well worth a visit for anyone passing through. It is divided into prehistoric history and early Native American history. Both of which I skimmed through except to say that flat Tennessee was an alluvial plain and shells and fossils are only 15 to 30 feet deep in their soil. Also from Tennessee 450 Chickasaw families were rounded up and made to follow the infamous Trail of Tears to Oklahoma Territory along with 16,000 Cherokees.
Along the river, and nearby Savannah are some old Indian Mounds if you like archaeology. They are just mounds of earth but once resembled the photo above; ceremonial altars, honorable places for a chief to live.
All river towns have a steamboat history which was pretty exciting. Savannah has a steamboat logo for the town stamped in the sidewalks and on every sign and letterhead.
Joshua C. Stoddard invented the Calliope and every steamboat on the river had to have one. Made of from 8 to 56 graduated steam whistles the music could be heard for miles in every direction. Children squealed and screamed, dogs barked and grownups smiled and held their breath with excitement as all made a mad dash to the river to meet passengers, pick up their mail or goods.
The graceful old paddle-wheelers like this one were made on the Ohio river. It is obvious from this museum that rivers were the major roads of the day, with danger, excitement, and goods traded up and down the river.
Steamboats came before train bridges. They carried trains across the river to the tracks on the opposite side. The displays explain the dangers and disasters that happened to them, hitting snags, or boiler fires, accidental rammings, and running aground on sandbars.
A steamboat needed a compass, whistle and a list indicator. I don’t know why that amused me, it is so simple.
And those speaking pipes we saw on the old movies with submarines? They were first used on steamships. You can whisper down this tube and your partner can hear it on the upper or lower deck.
Then there was war. The Iron Clads had six cannon per side and could guard the banks, deliver men and supplies to the battle. Many forts were built along rivers and the ships played a vital role in the Civil War. Before the Iron Clads were built, regular steamers were outfitted with rail road iron three-quarters inch thick above the water line and special protection for her boilers.They were called Tinclads..
On land, within 300 yards, cannon were very effective. They could shoot two rounds per minute and a station of six cannon could pour about 9,700 balls at the enemy in two minutes. The balls could mow down small trees and expose soldiers cover. The history of this area cannot be told without the horrors of the Civil War.
A gruesome task made real.
Bedford was a hero. (Click to enlarge)
The City of Savannah has this to say about heroes posted on their war memorial near City Hall.
We visited City Hall, and drove by the River Park. More about that tomorrow.
After asking three people about where to enjoy good food, we got the same answer all three times: The Hickory Pit for barbeque and Hakes for fish. Hakes wasn’t open on Tuesday and since chicken was served at “The Pit” we enjoyed a great lunch.
Hickory smoked chicken and green fried tomatoes for me. Fried potato skins served with REAL bacon,cheesse, green onions and ranch dressing or sour cream and half a smoked chicken. Delicious. I asked was there a local specialty in the area. The waitress said no, but the menu was definitely a mine of specialties that may not seem special to her.
Deep fried dill pickles, green beans, mushrooms, mozzarella sticks, and corn nuggets. You can get chicky and pig frys, which are french frys with pulled pork or chicken on top. And neon frys with cheese and meat on top. They offered nine different vegetables with okra, slaw and just about anything else you can think of. And, the tomatoes and potato skins are nicely flavored, not over dependent on salt, home-made, delicious and all given with excellent service. Stop in and enjoy this very southern restaurant. (The southern accent is a bonus.)