19. Opryland

There are two great mysteries when it comes to the Opryland complex just off Briley.  One is large and I cannot answer it–why did it seem like a good idea to close down Opryland and put up a mall?  Could a mall and an amusement park not have worked hand in hand?  I take comfort in knowing that everyone who works at Gaylord is haunted by this same question.

The other is smaller. Why would you ever pay to park at the hotel when you can park at the mall for free and walk over?

That I have an answer for.

Because some folks do.  You go to the movie theater side of the mall, park way out at the end of the parking lot, and then it’s just a short walk over to a back entrance to the hotel.

But it’s not exactly a nice walk.  You are literally walking over the corpse of Opryland.  There’s an old gate, old sidewalks, old light fixtures, and to your left, the old cave that featured prominently in the Grizzly River Rampage, a water ride in which you and eleven others were seated in a round barrel like contraption and set off down a fake river, to get wet.

And sure, if you’re filled with nostalgia for your Nashville childhood, it’s kind of heartbreaking.

But what keeps people out is that you’re walking along, in broad daylight, and you can see your car behind you if you turn and look and if you crane your neck, you can see the hotel in front of you.

And there, on the path, coming towards you, looking suitably tired and excited after a day’s outing, is a family of four.  At first, nothing at all about them seems that weird.  And then you realize that the parents are both smoking and you can’t remember the last time you saw people looking so at ease smoking in public.  Or those shorts that the men are wearing. Sure, fashions come back, but shorts that short on men?

It’s disconcerting.  To the point where maybe it’s just easier to pay the parking fee.

And I imagine that, as fashions continue to change, and it becomes less and less easy to convince yourself that those could be people from your time, paying for parking becomes easier and easier to justify.

Is This What Nerd Nervana Feels Like?

Okay, remember how we were talking about Elizabeth Durard like all fucking day today?  And remember how I just so happened to remark on the hairpin turn going into Joelton, evidenced even as far back as when it was known as Paradise Hill?


And even remember how Bridgett was all, “Paradise Hill, huh? Is this a likely euphemism for “whorehouse that is worth the walk up the hill” or what?” and I was all, “Ha, I thought maybe they had just anticipated how great it would be when the Dairy Queen opened up there! No, if i had to guess, I’d guess it was named after the Paradise brothers, who settled in the area. Paradise Ridge (another hill near there) is where Beaman Park is and is named after the Paradise brothers.”? And then remember how Henry Walker was all “Go check out this Tennessean story that you won’t be able to find online because the Tennessean’s archives only go back to like four days ago, but it discusses where Demonbreun was buried”?

Well, you are never going to fucking believe what I found!

Okay, you totally are, because I gave it away in the preceding paragraph, but I’m going to say it anyway because I am delighted. I found this article, which is not the article Walker means, in which it says, “Newspaper accounts of a later day tell of her long life, in her latter years operating a stagecoach inn on Paradise Hill called Granny Rats Tavern.”

A girl starts to wonder just how old either of these buildings are.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

I cannot wait to get to the State Library and Archives now.

(I found the article that Walker is talking about, in which the writer speculates that Demonbreun is still down on Jefferson Street. And check out what the Demonbreun Society has to say about who Elizabeth ended up married to. It’s a slightly different story than the one I’ll tell you tomorrow night.)

In Other Nerdy Goodness

Tom Woods is rocking the history over at Pith.

Melissa McEwan has a cool post full of awesome pictures of farmers.

And there’s a huge discussion about how to promote North Nashville, now that May Town Center looks like it’s not going to happen, with focus on Clarksville Pike, among other places. I would stress that we not overlook the enormously cool history of the area and the inherent beauty.  A greenway along Whites Creek would be awesome both because it’s not very developed yet and it’s beautiful AND Frank James farmed that land and it’s still a lot of farmland.  Same goes for saving the house where Frank and Jesse hid out at the end of their tenure.

For safety’s sake, get some sidewalks on Clarksville Pike, good lord. And four-lane it, at least, out to Briley Parkway.  Put a light in at Briley Parkway so that people trying to get off and head north don’t kill me when I’m driving home.

Trinity Lane has a bad reputation, but on our side of the interstate, it’s pretty sparsely populated and ripe for development.  There’s no good reason to not think of Trinity Lane as a major east-west thoroughfare.

Also, we need a light where Ashland City Highway and Clarksville Pike intersect.  We have about all the traffic we can handle before that starts to get really dangerous.

But we also have a lot of good stuff going on there already, people opening up all kinds of funky restaurants and stuff, so I hope that any development will also find ways to benefit the people who have already invested in that stretch of road.

Nerdy Girl Nerdiness of Nerdy Proportions

If I could have this map in real life, I would wet my pants with glee. I warn you ahead of time, this is not safe for work. Not because there is anything dirty about it, but because you will lose an hour to it just like that.

Anyway, I have taken a look at this map side by side with Google maps to make some guesses about how the roads were.


As you can see, Clarksville Pike, as we know it now, did not exist.  Dry Fork Creek was the main road through my neck of the woods and it looks like about where that little Methodist church is is where all of the action at the bottom of the ridge was.  But look at that hook in little Marrowbone creek right by the Demonbreun house.

Doesn’t that look like that same hook in the creek in the Google map? I’m pretty sure that I could find that place, no problem, even if there’s not still a house there.

Also, just for kicks, you guys might not recognize the name of the town here, but you sure must recognize that hairpin turn if you’ve ever been up White’s Creek Pike to Joelton.  It tickles me so much.


I have to say, I like “Paradise Hill” better than “Joelton,” but that’s just me.

Anyway, this map is about 1870, which is a couple of decades after Elizabeth shrugged off her mortal coil, so it’s hard to know if that Demonbreun house is her house, but at least it shows Demonbreuns clear over almost to me, which lends credence to her having a tavern near me.

Did I Tell Y’all about My Plan for Next Week?

I’m going to the State Library and Archives to try to figure out where Elizabeth Durard’s tavern/whore house was.  I’ve been looking at maps on the Library of Congress site, just trying to figure out how the old roads match up with the roads we have presently and how a woman buried at the Ashland City end of Little Marrowbone road has a tavern/whore house in my neck of the woods, roughly where Clarksville Pike crosses Old Hickory Boulevard.  And I discover two things.

One, that the Demonbreun place (which would have been hers or her kids’) was not clear over to the Ashland City Highway, but closer to Eaton’s Creek Road.  Second, that Little Marrowbone road used to go through. You can even see it on Google Maps now–Alessio Road reaching out for Glen Echo Lake Road. It must have been a steep hike from the elevation of Glen Echo Lake Road to the elevation of Alessio road, so you can see why it lost favor as methods of transit searched out easier inclines.  But it definitely makes it in the neighborhood.

I’m also starting to wonder if Germantown, at that time, wasn’t slightly west, maybe closer to Eaton’s Creek Road along Little Marrowbone road than to where the current Clarksville Pike is.  Or if “Germantown” stretched even further west, it’s entirely possible that the Demonbreun place on the map was her tavern/whore house.

We shall see.

I hope.