Cumberland Loop – April 2019

Back in April, Nathan and I took a day trip through southern Kentucky, and back into Tennessee. It was a really full day, and we didn’t get home until almost midnight. We had a great time, really enjoyed everywhere we stopped. We only experienced one small problem, but a check and a couple hours of online traffic school settled all of that 🙂

Cumberland Falls State Park – Cumberland Falls Rd, Williamsburg, KY 40769

We left Nashville east on I-40, and went north across Dale Hollow Lake, and into Kentucky. First stop was Cumberland Falls State Park. It was the first really nice day of the spring, and the park was as busy as I have ever seen it. We were able to get the only parking space left near the falls, at the far end of the parking area. It made for a long walk to the falls, but it was enjoyable and gave us a couple of good photo opportunities. On site at the falls is a visitor’s center, gift shop, and snack bar.

Sanders Cafe & Museum – 688 Highway 25, Corbin, KY 40701

From the falls, we went slightly northeast into Corbin, KY and located Sanders Cafe, which is the location of the original Col Harland Sanders restaurant. Below is an excerpt from the Wikipedia page for this location:

After moving to Corbin in 1930, Sanders started a service station across the street from the present location of the Harland Sanders CafĂ© along U.S. Route 25. Sanders served meals for travelers in the back of the service station at his own dining table, which seated six people. By 1937, the culinary skills of Sanders became well known and he built the Sanders CafĂ©, which seated 142 people. Two years later, the restaurant was destroyed by fire. Tourists can purchase their food in the modern KFC and dine in the cafĂ© which now serves both as a museum and as the seating area for the restaurant. Shortly after the fire in 1939, construction began on the present Sanders CafĂ©, along with the addition of a motel. The restaurant-motel complex reopened on July 4, 1940. A new addition to the cafĂ© was a model of the rooms located in the adjacent Sanders’ Motel. This was used to persuade customers to spend the night at the motel. Business continued to boom as it was located along U.S. 25, the main north-south route through central Kentucky. This soon changed with the relocation of the U.S. Route 25 split into US 25E & US 25W from being in the literal middle of his properties, to a new US 25E roadbed a mile north, in order to allow better access to US 25E from the recently proposed Interstate 75. This resulted in US 25E bypassing the restaurant and city entirely for traffic going to and from the Carolinas and Georgia coasts, and Interstate 75 (when completed through the area in the early 1970s) doing the same for traffic heading towards Atlanta and Florida. Sanders sold the cafĂ© in 1956 and began selling franchises for KFC. At some point after KFC franchising began, a franchised KFC was sited in the building, using the original kitchen, but converting the model motel room into larger restrooms. This KFC franchise remained in operation until 1988, when it was closed for the renovation into the current structure. The Harland Sanders CafĂ© was renovated and reopened in the fall of 1990 as a museum. A modern KFC kitchen was also built adjacent to the cafĂ© on some of the former motel land, and the two structures attached by an entrance lobby that contains many of the smaller museum displays. The model motel room was restored to its original state as part of the renovation, and modern restrooms added to the back of the original structure. While at the museum, visitors can tour the office of Harland Sanders, see the kitchen where Sanders developed the KFC secret formula, and view KFC memorabilia.

Cumberland Gap NHP – 91 Bartlett Park Road, Middlesboro, KY 40965

From Corbin, we continued southeast on US 25E to Cumberland Gap NHP. This ‘gap’ in the terrain is where settlers and frontiersmen including Daniel Boone cut through Virginia into Tennessee and Kentucky. We toured the visitor’s center and then drove up to the Pinnacle Overlook parking area. There is a short hike out to the overlook, and we captured some great images.

Veteran’s Overlook – 508 Blanken Dr, Bean Station, TN 37708

The next stop was Veteran’s Overlook, overlooking Lake Cherokee. Lake Cherokee was created as a result of the TVA projects, and the lake covers up the former town of Bean Station, TN. There is a new ‘Bean Station’ in a different location, but the original town and surrounding area, where my grandmother was born, is now under this lake.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies – 88 River Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Throughout the day, Nathan mentioned how much he liked aquariums, and somewhere around Dandridge, I decided to surprise him and go to the Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg. He was very surprised, and had a great time. It was his first visit, and the first time I had been there in about 12 years. They have a vast array of exhibits, and we spent a couple of hours there.

After we left the aquarium, we joined the outbound flow of traffic north through Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, and made our way back to Nashville. It was a long and great day for us!