1. We have the highest selling American whiskey in the world.
There’s not much else to do in Moore County besides go to the best distillery in the world — Jack Daniel’s. There, you can power through a tour of southern banter to reward yourself with three samples at the end and witness the very safe that Mr. Daniel kicked out of frustration, giving him gangrene and leading to his ultimate demise. Why he didn’t just dip his toe in a shot of whiskey? We’ll never know. But what we do know is that when you travel outside the country, not everyone will know where Tennessee is. But everyone will know Mr. Jack.
2. We have the fastest internet in the United States.
Gig City is home to the Electric Power Board, which provides Chattanooga with power needs in cases of outages as well as super speedy fiber-optic internet to everyone in the city. How fast? 50 times faster than the national average. So with an internet speed of 1 gigabit per second, that 2-hour video that’s taking 25 minutes to download? We had it downloaded in 33 seconds.
3. We have the oldest, still active, intentional community in North America.
When thinking of hippie culture, it’s easy to reflect just on the Deadheads of the West Coast. However, founded in 1971 with the commitment to leading a spiritual and self-reliant lifestyle, the oldest hippie commune in North America, known as The Farm, is still alive today in Summertown, Tennessee. Their common practices involve spiritual midwifery, permaculture, sustainable technology, as well as organic gardening and strawbale construction. Not to mention they’re a part of numerous organizations such as Plenty International, which helps indigenous populations and the environment; Kids To The Country, which brings at-risk children to The Farm; and the Swan Conservation Trust, which restores and preserves natural resources and wildlife habitat.
Oh, and the Deadheads? You can find them in the blueberry fields.
4. We’re not just special for our country music.
Memphis is home to some of the most influential musicians in Blues and early Rock N’ Roll history. There’s W.C. Handy who is thought to have written the first commercially-successful blues song in a Beale Street Bar. Plus Bessie Smith, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters, Ike Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aretha Franklin, and Charlie Rich.
And that’s just naming a few.
5. We have the most visited national park in the United States.
Not only was this the first national park that was partially paid for with federal funds, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also the most visited national park in the United States. And it’s not difficult to see why – there’s Cade’s Cove, Chimney Tops, Rocky Top, Clingman’s Dome, Abram Falls, and miles and miles of trails that snake through some of nature’s best works of art.
6. Tied with Missouri, we border the most states.
That’s 8 states, by the way – Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri. Get on our level.
7. We’re home to the first Coca-Cola Bottling Company.
Yes, Atlanta, we know you’re home of the Coca-Cola recipe. However, it wouldn’t be fair to ignore Tennessee’s involvement with the industry by skimping on the fact that Chattanooga was home to the world’s first Coca-Cola bottling company. And as we all know, Coke tastes better out of a frosty bottle.
8. We have one of the world’s largest freshwater aquariums.
Who needs sharks, stingrays, and jellyfish when you can follow a metaphorical raindrop from the Appalachian Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico through the muddy Tennessee Aquarium’s River Journey exhibit? Not to mention, there’s otters.
9. We have Memphis-style barbecue.
There’s Carolina barbecue, Kansas City barbecue, and Texas barbecue. And then there’s Memphis-style barbecue. Now, if there’s any question as to which one is the best, you could always come to The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in Memphis, which is hailed by the Guinness World Records as the largest pork barbecue contest in the world. But if you can’t wait for a mouth full of slow cooked ribs covered in a dry rub of salt and various spices and lathered in barbecue sauce (if you like it wet), you can order overnight shipping from anywhere in the country through FedEx’s Memphis SuperHub.
Or, you know, just go to Corky’s.
10. We have the Grand Ole Opry.
The Grand Ole Opry, founded in 1925 as a one-hour radio “barn dance” on WSM, is the longest-running radio broadcast in history. Hailed as an American icon, its slogan is ‘The Show that Made Country Music Famous.’ Which, considering the people who have been regulars on the Opry’s stage, such as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, the Carter Family, Bill Monroe, Kitty Wells, Minnie Pearl, and Dolly Parton, it’s a slogan that really hits the twangy nail on the head.
11. We’re home to the first patented miniature golf course.
You can thank us for one of the best drunken, bored pastimes in all of existence.
12. We have The Lost Sea.
The Craighead Caverns, located between Sweetwater and Madisonville, is famous for the United States’ largest – and the world’s second largest – non-subglacial underground lake.
13. We’re working on clean, low-cost energy.
The Tennessee Valley Authority provides flood control and electricity to the majority of Tennessee as well as parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia. TVA is a nonprofit agency that provides these services at prices below the national average and aims to be one of the nation’s leading providers of low-cost, clean energy by 2020.
14. We gave you Moonpies and Little Debbies.