Monday, November 27, 2017

The Road Home From Nashville…and Lunch Too!

Following my DeVeaux School (prep school) reunion in Nashville Tennessee, we decided to get off the Interstate Highway System and follow US 70 eastward across the state to our home south of Knoxville…

Even US Hwy. 70 bypasses some of the small towns along the route…so we ventured off the highway and drove through a few of them to take a look.  This is the Salem Baptist Church in Liberty Tennessee.  As you can see by the dates on the front of the church, this congregation was first organized back in 1809.  This particular structure apparently dates back to 1927.

Liberty and DeKalb County as a whole was first settled by Adam Dale, a Revolutionary War veteran, ca. 1797.  The town has never been large…with the census showing that the population peaked in 1990 with 391 residents.  The current population is estimated at 315.

This is the former Liberty High School.  This fortress like stone structure was built in 1918.  It now serves as the town hall, senior center and library with a history room too…

The millstone at the lower left of the photo was found in nearby South Fork Cree, near the site of Adam Dale’s gristmill.  As I mentioned before, Dale was the founder of the town.

We did note this population explosion in Liberty!  Mama cat and her 5 offspring were out exploring… Is a black cat with 4 black kittens and one black and white kitten considered to be bad luck?

This is just one of the many old homes in Liberty…  The Liberty Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.  It includes 76 contributing properties including the Salem Baptist Church and the former high school.  The oldest home in the Historic District dates back to 1820 and others were built in 1825 and 1850.

This is the DeKalb County Courthouse in Smithville Tennessee.  It was built in 1970 to replace the previous courthouse, which in turn had replaced another courthouse that had apparently burned down ca. 1925.

Smithville was founded in 1838 and it has a current population of about 4,700.  It is the home of the Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree and Crafts Festival.  This festival has been held on the weekend closest to July 4 ever since 1972.  Present day attendees are estimated to exceed 100,000!  To learn more about this event, go to

FYI…Country singer and songwriter Alan Jackson is from Smithville.  He has sold over 80 million records, has received 2 Grammy Awards, 16 CMA awards and 17 ACM awards.  He is also a member of the Grand Ole Opry and he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2017.  To learn more about Alan Jackson, you can just go to  To visit his personal website, go to

It was all about agriculture in DeKalb County until 1949.  Following the completion of the Center Hill Lake and dam on the Caney Fork River, tourism in the area has become big business.  This is one of the marinas on the lake.  Center Hill Lake has 415 miles of mostly undeveloped shoreline with over 18,000 acres of deep water. 

·         US Hwy 70 is 2,385 miles long, stretching from Eastern North Carolina to East Central Arizona.  Tennessee State Route 1, known as the Memphis to Bristol Highway is 539 miles long and most of this route follows US Hwy 70 as well as part of US Hwy 11.  State Route 1 was opened in 1915 and at 539 miles in length, it is the longest highway of any kind in the state.   

We’d been driving and exploring for a while and it was about time for lunch.  Laurie got out her smart phone and searched on for a place to eat in Sparta Tennessee.  We decided on Yanni’s Grille… Who expects a Greek style restaurant in the middle of Tennessee?! 

This is part of the dining area at Yanni’s Grille.  We immediately checked the menu for Greek options.  Actually, there weren’t very many…no surprise given the restaurant’s location in the middle of Tennessee.  Still we noted that they serve a Big Fat Greek Salad (full portion $6.99), Grecian Shish-Kabob ($10.99) and Baklava for dessert. ($3.49)

More importantly, Yanni’s menu features a Greek Gyro Sandwich…something that we’re always looking for in Tennessee!  We asked our very helpful and friendly waitress a couple of questions.  Is the gyro meat carved from a loaf on a split? (No) Does the house-made tzatziki sauce have any noticeable garlic flavor in it? (Some…but not a lot) Our waitress loves garlic but she said that their customers don’t like too much of it.  She did say that the gyro meat is grilled and that the sandwich is good…

So we both ordered the gyro sandwich with extra tzatziki sauce and a side of chicken rice soup. ($6.99 each plus $.50 for extra sauce)  The soup was very nice and so was the gyros sandwich.  While not as 'garlicy' as what we enjoyed in Chicago when we lived there, this was best gyro sandwich we’ve had anywhere in Tennessee! 

Yanni’s Grille is at 19 South Spring Street in Sparta Tennessee.  They are open from 11 AM until 9 PM Tuesday through Sunday.  Phone: 931-836-3838.  Yanni’s is on Facebook and their menu is included.  Just go to

Moving east along US Hwy. 70, we came to Crossville.  While we’ve been to Crossville before to attend the popular Cumberland County Playhouse, with 165,000 plus attendees per year, (, we’d never driven through the center of town. 

The Milo Lemert Memorial Building is the courthouse annex right across the street from the Cumberland County Courthouse and right next to the old courthouse.  This is also the former main Crossville United States Post Office.  It is named after Milo Lemert, a Sergeant in Tennessee’s “Old Hickory Division” who was killed in action as he tried to subdue his 4th German machine gun nest in a row on September 29, 1918.  He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his efforts and bravery…

This is the current Cumberland County Courthouse.  As you can see, it was completed in 1905.  Construction costs totaled $23,000, or about $1.4 million in today’s dollars.  The foundation is sandstone and the walls are made with cut Bedford limestone.


·         Earl Francis Lloyd was from Crossville.  In the 1950 – 1951 season, Lloyd was the first black person to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). 

·         The United States Chess Federation moved its corporate offices to Crossville in 2005.

This is the earlier Cumberland County Courthouse.  It was built with Crab Orchard stone back in 1886 at a cost of $5,200.  Fire destroyed the roof and interior of the building in 1905.  The building was repaired and it served as the first Cumberland County High School and Normal School from 1908 – 1929.  Subsequently, it housed various government offices including the Cumberland Board of Education.
Since 2002, the old courthouse has served as the Military Memorial Museum featuring over 3,000 related items.  To learn more about this museum, go to

Moving east along US Hwy 70 from the town of Crab Orchard, we noted this ancient looking wood and steel railroad trestle crossing a deep valley.  I assumed that it was abandoned which most of this particular rail line is… However, a little research revealed that a 15 mile stretch of track including this trestle (and a tunnel) are still in use. 

This little railroad is owned by Franklin Industrial Minerals Railroad (Lhoist North America) and it’s used to transport limestone and calcium carbonate products to a rail connection at Rockwood Tennessee.  For those rail buffs out there, you can go to this site to view some nifty photos of trains on the trestle and coming out of the tunnel.

That’s all for now... Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!  We’ll return to Scotland for my next post on the blog site.

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 


  1. Love your Gteek food sandwich, friend D ... Tennessee is on ma bucket list ... Lets meet there some time and pig out on extra everything Greek ... by the way, did you know that the garlic taste and smell magically goes away, when eating the garnish parsley after wards? ... Anyway, wishin U a very happy last week in November ... Love, cat.

  2. Hi ^.^ - Good luck with Greek food here in East Tennessee! No good options found so far...after 8+ years. As a matter of fact, other than Mexican or Thai, good ethnic food is hard to find. As for that garlic taste, thanks for the tip...but we both like the taste and smell afterwards! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  3. So glad you enjoyed your lunch. It usually is difficult to find some really authentic food and not simply "copycat". Catherine