Riding Along Tennessee's White Lightning Trail

What does pinto bean pie, Crockett Tavern Museum, Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, and vinegar pie all have in common? They are just a few of the many highlights found along Tennessee's White Lightning Trail.

Starting in Knoxville, the 200-mile trail takes its name from the route's history as a moonshine-running corridor during prohibition, where legends like Poppy Sutton were forever etched into its lore. But it's not all about the 'shine. The region is also rich in heritage, cultural, historic and scenic offerings as well, and is reflected through the trail.

Traveling through nine counties and part of the East Tennessee Crossing, there is something for everyone to enjoy along Tennessee's White Lightning Trail.


Dandridge, located in Jefferson Co., is the state's second oldest town. Today, it's where old intertwines with new. The self-guided walking tour through downtown (listed on the National Historic Register) takes you to such sites as two four different remaining taverns (first businesses in Dandridge were taverns, according to local historian Bob Jarnagin) and the Greek-revival style county courthouse (circa 1845) which houses the Jefferson County Historical Museum. Inside the museum, not only can you see remnants of busted moonshine stills (Jarnagin points out that the county was home to probably the nation's largest moonshine bust) but also a copy of Davy Crockett's marriage bond.

It's the largest national historic park east of the Mississippi, and encompasses four counties in three states. Cumberland Gap National Historic Park is around 250,000 acres, offering over 80 miles of hiking and horse trails. Additionally there are over 20 caves in the park, with one open for tours. And there is more, like the historic districts and the Hensley Settlement. However, there are two must see/visit points within the park. Cumberland Crafts, located in the Visitor's Center, tells the story of artisans in the Appalachian region. The main goal is to keep the crafts alive, since are in danger of going extinct. Head to Pinnacle Overlook, said the be the most visited place in the park, for a chance to view three states: Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. Looking out on a clear day, you can even see the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance.

Considered to be the cleanest lake in Tennessee, Norris Lake offers 34,000 acres of water and over 800 miles of shoreline. A deep lake, it's a prime spot in the region for water sports, fishing, swimming and relaxing. The Norris Dam was the first project built by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Also located in the area is Norris Dam State Park that includes Lenoir Museum and a rice mill.

The living history museum, Museum of Appalachia in Clinton provides you with a look into life in the southern Appalachians. The 65-acre complex features farm animals, authentic log structures, mountain musicians and exhibits. A few of particular includes the museum's Hall of Fame that recognizes and honors the region's rich music history. There is also an exhibit on Harrison H. Mays, a former coal miner, who survived a near death experience while working. Afterwards, he became a one-man crusade for God on the roadsides of America. He made and erected crosses in 44 states. Also, don't miss seeing Popcorn Sutton's moonshine still.

Green McAdoo Culture Center opened in 2006, the 50th anniversary of the "Clinton 12."  In 1956, these 12 students commemorated in a detailed statue were the first students to desegregate Clinton High School. They would gather at the former at the former Green McAdoo Grammar School, and reverend and the high school principal would meet the students and walk them to school the first couple of days. Inside the cultural center details the tumultuous time as well as the key figures involved. Clinton High Schools holds the honor of having  the first African American student to graduate from a public high school in the South.

Explore the region's vast history at East Tennessee Museum in Knoxville. Go back in time as you explore an East Tennessee Streetscape complete with a trolley car. Take a look at one of their most popular exhibit that focuses on the music and musicians of the region.

Worth the Stop...Be sure to schedule in time to check out the Moonshine Exhibit at the Hampton Inn Caryville.

Did You Know...Union County is known as the "Cradle of Country Music," since it is home of Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, Carl Smith, Kenny Chesney and Lois Johnson. Explore the Union County Museum to learn more.

Be a part of the audience of WDVX Blue Plate Special, inside the Knoxville Visitors Center and enjoy free performances featuring Americana/Bluegrass music.