Natchez Trace Parkway

Fox17

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Rob Robinson, musician and owner of Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee. Puckett’s has been a community center of sorts in town since 1953. It’s much more than a grocery and eatery—it’s also a rocking live music venue.

Thomas Wilmer

Principal Dr. Ryan Jackson shares with correspondent Tom Wilmer how Tennessee’s Mt Pleasant Arts Innovation Zone preK-12 educational model benefits student’s educational goals by infusing Art into S.T.E.M.

Learning comes alive, as students passionately work on curricular projects ranging from creating NASA-mentored self-sustaining habitats on Mars, to building/selling tiny houses that can result in various trade certifications at completion.

Gone is the “sit and listen” drudgery, replaced by the vibrancy of “think and do”, resulting in kids’ genuine ownership of their educational journeys. 

Click here to listen to Dr. Ryan's TEDX talk

The Dr. Jackson STEAM education show is the 12th in a multi-part series showcasing Nashville’s Big Back Yard--an economic and tourism initiative that encompasses the Natchez Trace National Parkway in Tennessee’s southwest quarter down to the Shoals Region in Northern Alabama.

Amazon.com

Tom Reed came to Hohenwald, Tennessee back in 1971 as a vanguard member of a commune dubbed "The Farm”. Hundreds of hippies arrived in their vans and more than 80 school busses adorned with banners proclaiming “Out to Save the World”. They purchased 1,750 acres and settled in, and the Farm is still thriving in the Hohenwald, Tennessee countryside.

Thomas Wilmer

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a visit with Lee Kennedy, owner of Leiper’s Fork Distillery located on the outskirts of uptown Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee. Kennedy shares insights about producing Tennessee whiskey and bourbon, events at the distillery and the process of growing his elixir’s market distribution.

Thomas Wilmer

Amber Falls Winery and Cellars, situated close to the Natchez Trace National Parkway, is just 17 minutes away from the town of Hohenwald and an hour and a quarter to downtown Nashville. In addition to a tasting room with retail sales and outdoor live-music events scheduled throughout the year, cottages adjacent to the winery are available for overnight stays.

Joe Hendricks Elephants

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with outreach manager Todd Montgomery at the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Rescued elephants from circuses and zoos across America find peace at the Elephant Sanctuary. Founded in 1995, the sanctuary is not open to the public to ensure a tranquil retirement environment for the elephants.

Fortunately there’s a wonderful educational visitors' center located in downtown Hohenwald. Video displays include the EleCam, providing live-streaming video feed from the elephants’ 2,700-acre habitat—the largest safe haven in North America.

The Elephant Sanctuary podcast show is the seventh in a series showcasing Nashville’s Big Back Yard, an economic and tourism initiative encompassing the Natchez Trace National Parkway in Tennessee’s southwest quarter down to the Shoals Region in Northern Alabama. The town of Hohenwald is located 80 miles southwest from Nashville.

Commodore Hotel Linden, Tennessee

Correspondent Tom Wilmer continues his exploration of Tennessee’s rural communities where modern pioneers invest in and restore historic downtown buildings and along the way infuse new economic life and vitality in the rural communities.

Thomas Wilmer

In the latter decades of the 19th Century, new towns and villages sprung up across Tennessee. Some of the settlers were U.S. citizens relocating from the eastern seaboard, along with European immigrants, all in pursuit of opportunity. Land in rural Tennessee was easily accessible by riverboat, trains and wagons.

German Catholics established the town of Loretto in 1870. Before long Loretto was served by stage and railway. The economy bustled with lumber mills and downtown retail establishments. The Loretto Milling Company opened in 1895 to serve the needs of farmers with feed and fuel and the business is still thriving 125 years later.

But, following WWII the local economy and employment started an inexorable decline when the new U.S. Route 43 bypassed the town.

Today, thanks to visionary, risk-taking young people like Mandy and Eric McClaren a new breed is leading Loretto’s economic renaissance. They opened a coffee house in a renovated derelict 1930s commercial building. Even though the McClaren's opened their doors just days before COVID-19 threw them a curve ball, this past fall they started work on a soon to open brewery. Join correspondent Tom Wilmer in Loretto at Mandy and Eric’s Lo-Town Brew to learn the rest of the story.

This show is the sixth in a multi-part series showcasing Nashville’s Big Back Yard--an economic and tourism initiative encompassing a natural watershed region that wends through the Natchez Trace National Parkway in Tennessee’s southwest quarter down to the Shoals Region in Northern Alabama.

Nashvillesbigbackyard.org

Nashville’s Big Back Yard, an economic and tourism initiative focused on a natural watershed region wending through the Natchez Trace National Parkway, features 12 rural communities. Leiper’s Fork is the northern anchor, not too far from Nashville. The Big Back Yard journey traverses Tennessee’s southwest quarter down into Alabama’s legendary Shoals region—the mother ship of American music.