Fall Tour Site Descriptions

Thursday, September 14 – Optional Tour

Nissan Vehicle Assembly Plant – The opening of the Nissan Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant in 1983 was a groundbreaking moment, bringing automotive production to Tennessee for the first time. The plant has become a force for economic development, creating thousands of well-paying jobs and inspiring other auto companies and suppliers to set up operations in the state. For more than 30 years, the Smyrna team has been assembling quality, award-winning cars, trucks, crossovers and SUVs. The plant has grown significantly over that time and transformed from a domestic manufacturer to a global one. Models currently produced at the Smyrna plant include the Nissan Altima, Maxima, Pathfinder, and others.

Old Hickory Navigation Lock and Hydroelectric Dam – Old Hickory Lock was opened to navigation traffic in June 1954.  The lock chamber is 397 feet long and 84 feet wide.  During normal lake levels, the lock is able to lift boats 60 feet from the river below the dam to the lake above the dam.  The lock releases over 15 million gallons of water each time is emptied. In the generation of power, water from the reservoir enters gate-controlled intakes into the powerhouse, rotates the turbines, and discharges through draft tubes into the river below the dam.  Generators, mounted on the same shafts with the turbines, produce the electric current.  It is increased in voltage by transformers and carried from the power plant by transmission lines leading from the switchyard.

This tour requires an extra fee of $75 in addition to registration for the overall Fall Tour. Lunch is included.

Friday, September 15

Ocean Way Studios – Belmont University’s Ocean Way Recording Studios, housed in an historic century old Gothic Revival church, is considered one of the world’s great recording studio for film scores, orchestration and video shoots, and is one of the few large enough to house an entire orchestra. Among those who have recorded here are Alison Kraus, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Kings of Leon, Yo Yo Ma, and Megadeth.

Fort Negley – This star-shaped fortification was the largest stone inland fort constructed during the Civil War. It was designed by Capt. James St. Clair Morton after Vauban’s 17th century designs. Reconstructed by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, it is the premier surviving feature from the 1864 Battle of Nashville.

Omohundro Water Works – Constructed in 1889 as the George Reyer Pumping Station, this is one of the older water pumping stations in active use in the nation. The 1929 basilica-style plant features arched brick galleries and terrazzo tile floors. Originally steam, it was converted to electricity only in 1953.  An adjacent water filtration plant was completed in 1929. The Omohundro Water Works has a pumping capacity of 139 million gallons per day.

Cumberland Swing Bridge – Constructed in 1931 by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, this Camelback through truss structure has a swing span to accommodate oversize barge traffic. The span is the fourth on the site; the first was completed in 1860 but was burned by the Confederates two years later when they surrendered the city. The Union Army rebuilt the bridge with a wooden Howe truss which served until 1867 when the L&N replaced it with a Fink iron truss; that structure was widened about 1916.

Nashville Toll Bridge Abutments – These 1823 stone abutments are the only known surviving bridge remains from the Trail of Tears, and are associated with pioneer bridge engineer Lewis Wernwag.

Shelby Street Bridge – Built in 1908-09 at a cost of $475,000, this three-span through truss bridge was a major crossing in the south part of town until 2003 when it was converted to pedestrian use.

Lunch is included. Dinner is on your own.

Saturday, September 16

RCA Studio B – Built by Dan Maddux in 1956 at the request of Chet Atkins and Steve Sholes, this was the studio most famous for the 1960s recordings of the “Nashville Sound.” The list of famous performers who recorded here is staggering, including Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, the Everly Brothers, and many more. Today it is managed by the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Hatch Print/Country Music Hall of Fame – An historic letterpress shop in operation for over 130 years, Hatch Show Print has produced handbills and posters for fairs, movie theaters, concerts and events, all printed from hand-carved wooden blocks. Today it is housed in and operated by the Country Music Hall of Fame. Our visit to Hatch Print also includes time in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway Locomotive No. 576 – The Nashville Steam Preservation Society steam engine restoration project features a dual-purpose 4-8-4 “J-3” class engine. No. 576 is the only remaining mainline Dixie type steam locomotive from the NC&StL and is one of the largest steam locomotives left in existence in the southeastern United States. The railway presented the locomotive to the City of Nashville in September 1953, making it one of the first park engines and monuments to the steam era in the country. No. 576 was built in 1942 and this fall NSPS will celebrate its 75th anniversary. No. 576 is an exquisite example of the pinnacle of steam technology. C.M. Darden, Superintendent of Machinery for the railway and ASME member, designed the locomotive in the general office building in downtown Nashville.

The Parthenon – Not an industrial structure, but how many cities have an intact Parthenon? Nashville’s was built for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition and reconstructed in the 1930s. Engineering an exact replica of the Athenian landmark was a major challenge, as was the recent restoration.

Nashville Arcade – Constructed in 1902-03 by the Edgefield and Nashville Manufacturing Company for businessman Daniel Buntin, this iron, steel and brick arcade was modeled after the Galleria Vittori Emaneule II in Milan. The rolled steel roof bracing system is extraordinary. It is lined with busy shops today.

Marathon Village– Marathon Motor Works was an early twentieth century auto manufacturer which started production in 1906-07 and erected its Nashville plant in 1910. While the car was popular and over 10,000 were sold in 1912, the owners were poor managers and production ceased in 1914. The two-story brick factory has been converted to a complex that houses the Tennessee location of Antique Archaeology (the American Pickers people), a winery, a brewery, numerous shops, and the Corsair Distillery.

Closing BBQ Banquet at Marathon Village, former home of Marathon Motor Works

Sunday, September 17 – Optional Tour

Optional: The Hermitage – The Hermitage was the plantation home of Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States, from 1804 until his death in 1845.  Completed in 1819, the main house is a two-story Greek Revival brick mansion.  Frontier-born, Jackson was the first chief executive elected from west of the Allegheny Mountains, the first from other than Virginia or Massachusetts, and the first non-aristocrat.  The charisma of “Old Hickory,” his renown as a military hero and Indian fighter, and his astuteness in politics assured his election as president.

This tour will leave the Preston Hotel at 10 a.m., returning to the hotel at approximately 2 p.m.

This tour requires an extra fee of $40 in addition to registration for the overall Fall Tour. Lunch is on your own. The Hermitage does offer food for sale.