- This time, on Tennessee Crossroads, we visit the historic Central Station Hotel, in Memphis. We'll explore the restored Amqui train station, near Madison, and discover how Dale Hollow dam became a source of power and recreation. Well, this is your source of Tennessee travels, I'm Joe Elmore, welcome again. All too often, historic buildings fall victims to the constant push for new construction. Well, everyone benefits when beloved old structures can be restored, though, and re-suited for use in the present-day. Such is the case of our first segment. Oh, coincidentally, Linn Sitler, a Crossroads contributor from decades past, has resurfaced, to bring us the story of the Central Station Hotel. - It's a train station. It's a hotel. And it's also sort of a radio station, where disc jockeys spin records, piping Memphis music into every room of the Central Station Hotel. The Central Station Hotel has opened in downtown Memphis, as a jewel in the crown of Memphis, Tennessee. And who better to oversee the train station's transformation into a luxury hotel, than McLean Wilson. - My grandfather founded Holiday Inns in 1952, and what we're doin' here, at Central Station, is an attempt to do the exact same thing he did, relative to being innovative. What we're attempting to do is really create an authentic, genuine expression of what Memphis, Tennessee is. The building itself has a storied past, so there's a lot of architectural details and design details, that pay homage to the past, but we also wanted to make it relevant for, not only today, but for the foreseeable future. And so we had to create some modernity to it, as well. And really the big notion for what this hotel offers, that a lotta hotels around the world don't, is a music lounge, with world-renowned speakers, acoustically dialed in, perfectly, and a album all full of records that all hearken back to some tie to Memphis music. To really showcase that which Memphis has done for many many decades, and that's put out really wonderful music. - And, thanks to the technical genius of Jim Thompson, guests can listen to music through custom-made EgglestonWorks speakers. - Memphis has played such an important role in the development of popular music. That we wanted to highlight that, so the music is not necessarily just Memphis musicians, or Memphis bands, it is writers, producers, bands that recorded in Memphis for the reason that it is Memphis. - [Linn] You can listen to the Memphis music in the hotel bar, called Eight & Sand. In this sleek re-do of the train station's waiting room, you might even see a Memphis music legend, or two. Like David Porter and "Boo" Mitchell. There's even a listening room, appealing to the most serious music lovers. - It's a small room that has a pair of speakers in it, and a few chairs. It seats only about six people. So that one was a lot of fun. I know you're not gonna find that in any hotel, but you probably aren't really gonna find it in any public space, at all, ever, so it's really unique. - When you're at the Central Station Hotel, there's no doubt that you're at the South Main historic district. And, really, where that's represented is in our art. We recruited a friend of ours, who's a phenomenal photographer named Jamie Harmon, and so every guest room is littered with photographs that he took, along the train lines. That was one idea of how we stayed connected to the past, and to the present, which is the fact that we are a train station. And is an active line that Amtrak has, goin' to Chicago, New Orleans, and the other piece is curating original pieces of art, from Memphis artists, as well as artists in Chicago and New Orleans. And so, all of the public area art is hand-selected, hand-picked, and all that you experience is rooted in a Memphis feeling. - [Linn] Each of the rooms has a view of the downtown South Main historic district. Or a view west, toward the Mississippi River. Each is a little different in shape, designed from the nooks and crannies of the 106-year-old building. Looking back at the train station's transformation, it's hard to imagine that the project grew out of the cities desire to simply turn the train station into a transit center. But when legendary Memphis developer Henry Turley took the bait, - I thought about it for a minute and I said, 'When the train arrives, you want someone that'll 'welcome 'em, and show 'em a good time.' Well that's pretty easy. A hotel. So I picked up the phone and called Archie Willis. I said, 'Will you do a hotel?' And he said, 'Well, will you go in it with us?' I said, 'Sure, just so I don't have to work. 'You've gotta run it, 'cause I don't know anything 'about a hotel.' I said, 'I've got one specification: 'when someone gets on the train in Chicago, 'and buys the ticket to New Orleans, 'I want 'em to get off at your hotel, 'and be so happy that they tear up 'the ticket to New Orleans. 'Stay in Memphis.' And that's the only thing I did. And, from what I see, they've pretty well done that. - Thanks Linn and, hey, welcome back. Now, for those of you wonderin' what my friend Will Pedigo is doin' here, well, I'm willin' to tell ya. It's that time of year when we encourage you to support Tennessee Crossroads, and help keep us out there, finding all the great stories we love to bring to you, each week. - It's nice to be kickin' off the new year with ya, Joe. - Thanks, man. - Well, we want to start out 2020 on a firm foundation, for the 33rd year of Tennessee Crossroads, covering the highways and byways of our great state. And that is where you come in. Over the next few weeks, we'll be asking you to support the show, and if we can get to 350 donations at any level, we'll keep Tennessee Crossroads on the air, during our March membership drive. And I hope you'll pitch in. One easy way to contribute is by visiting the show's website, tennesseecrossroads.org/donate. - Whether you're a long-time viewer, or maybe you're just new to Tennessee, and have found this show to be a fun introduction to the best that Tennessee has to offer, you can help make us reach our goal of 350 contributions, to keep Crossroads travelin' in 2020. You've already made Tennessee Crossroads one of the most watched locally-produced programs in the entire PBS system, that's nationwide. - It's amazing. - Now we're honored to be a part of your lives, and wanna say thank you, because we couldn't produce this show, without your support and loyal viewership. So, to say thanks, we have some gifts to send to you, for your pledge of support. You can call the number on your screen, or make a pledge online, like Will said, it's tennesseecrossroads.org/donate. - Now, if you're a Crossroads fan, we have some exciting new ways to say thanks this year, and encourage you to support the show you love. Call the number on your screen, contribute online, support your public television station that brings you Tennessee Crossroads. Now here are all the ways we wanna thank you for keeping Crossroads traveling in 2020. - [Joe] You can help keep Crossroads traveling with a financial gift that's just right for you. Donate at any amount, and you'll receive a Tennessee Crossroads official travel sticker. At $60 a year, or five dollars a month, we'll thank you with this brand new Tennessee Crossroads baseball cap. At the $72 level, or six dollars per month, you can show your support and keep Crossroads traveling with this polyester blend short-sleeved tee shirt. A new way we have of saying thanks for an $84 annual gift, or seven dollars per month, is this 16-ounce glass tumbler, with the Crossroads logo. You can choose both the Tennessee Crossroads tee shirt, and the pint glass, for an annual gift of $144. That's $12 monthly. Or you don't have to choose, at all. You can get all three of our Tennessee Crossroads thank you gifts, at the $204 level, or $17 a month. - I shouldn't be the only one who gets to hang out with you and talk about all the fun memories Crossroads has brought us, over the past 32 years. - Wow. - Awesome. Last year we tried somethin' new, and I think it was a pretty great success. - Yeah, I think I know where you're goin', with this. At the end of the Keep Crossroads Traveling campaign, you can join us, to celebrate with an afternoon of fun, at The Ranch Taproom, at Jackalope Brewing Company, for a special NPT day. On Sunday, February 16th, Will and I, and some of your favorite hosts of Tennessee Crossroads and Volunteer Gardener, will putting on those new Crossroads pint glasses, and puttin' 'em to the best use. Join us from 12:00 to 3:00 P.M. for NPT day, at Jackalope Brewing Company. Let the folks at the door know that you're coming to support NPT, and 20% of your purchases made during the event, will go to Nashville Public Television, the station that produces Tennessee Crossroads, and all the local public television shows you love. - So that's on Sunday, February 16th, and as an added perk from our friends at Jackalope Brewing Company, Nashville Public Television will be featured as the non-profit for Jackalope taproom's non-profit pairing program, all through February. The featured beer for February will be Fennario IPA, and 20% of the sales of every pint of Fennario sold in either Jackalope taproom, that's The Den, or The Ranch, will go back to NPT during the month of February. - It's gonna be fun. So help us keep Crossroads traveling, and join the family here at NPT, with a contribution that works for you. We have lots of great ways to say 'thank you', and any pledge, or any amount, will help us get to that goal of 350 donations. - By the way, a contribution, at any amount, will also get you a freshly designed Tennessee Crossroads sticker. It's a beautiful little sticker with, NPT's own Kyle Sweet made that design, and you can hit the road exploring the stories and spots highlighted on the show, while showing your part of the Crossroads family, here at NPT. - I always love hearing from viewers, and saying how much they appreciate the show serving as, well, a guide, to their adventures and getaways around the state. Now, every now and then, I'll run into folks wearing Tennessee Crossroads hats or shirts, and it's fun to have an excuse to stop and say 'hello', and thank 'em for supporting the show. Plus, we're always looking to hear from folks who share their recommendations for places we should check out, or people we should meet. - Right, and a lot of the ideas for the show do come from our viewers, like you. Many of them come through the Facebook page, at TN Crossroads, which, by the way, has more than 30 thousand followers. That's awesome. So, all we're looking for is 350 of you, to pitch in with a financial contribution to support the hard work of the Tennessee Crossroads crew. We know there are a lot of you who count on Crossroads, each week, to point ya in the right direction for where to eat, what to do, and to learn more about what makes Tennessee such a great place to call home. Now we wanna hear from you. Call the number on your screen, make a contribution at tennesseecrossroads.org/donate, pick out an amount that's right for you, and check out some of the great Crossroads gifts that we have, to show you our appreciation for your support. - We can't do it without you. I hope you give us a call. - And, I guess, Joe, we'll be lookin' forward to seein' where we are, next week, but, before that, it's time for you to head out on the road, take us where we're goin', so where are we headin' next? - Well, our next stop on Crossroads is a little community called Madison, I think you've been there a few times, it's just north of Nashville. That's where we found another train story, but with its own unique story behind it. A place that was brought back to life, with the help of a country music legend. The glory days, when passenger trains carried travelers through the passing landscape. Bound for destinations both near and far. Days that, now, live on, mostly in memories. The last vestiges of that bygone era, are the surviving train stations, such as the Amqui Station in Madison. Built in 1910, by the L & N Railroad, history comes to life inside these original old walls, where a passenger service flourished, for about 50 years. After that, the building remained in use as a switching station, until the 1970's. Since 2010, its been open as a fully-restored museum, and a joining visitor center. And none of this would've been possible without help from a Tennessee music legend who grew up singing' music to the sound of a lonesome train whistle. - Johnny loved the trains. And, later on down the line, he would record a lotta songs, connected to the railroad. - [Joe] That's Joanne Cash, sister of Johnny Cash, whose passion for trains is, now, legendary. And, according to Discover Madison's Kate Hamilton, Amqui Station was always a special place, to the singer. - Johnny was a visitor here, he visited the signal men that worked up in our signal tower, switching the tracks. And the story goes that, when the door to the signal tower would open, they would hear someone walking up the steps, and hear that person say, 'What are you boys up to?' And that was how Johnny would let them know it was him, and he was coming up for a visit. When the station was closed, in 1979, Johnny saved it from the wrecking ball, by moving it next door to his office, in Hendersonville. Later, in 2006, after the passing of Johnny and his wife, June, the station finally came home, to Madison. - Thank goodness he had an affinity for this station; but, because of him, it's still here, and people can come here, they can hear the history of L & N, the history of Amqui, the history of Madison, and the history of Johnny. - [Joe] The museum contains original Amqui and L & N artifacts, there's even a corner dedicated to hobos. Including an alphabet they used to communicate with each-other. - They would usually have chalk, and they would place one of those symbols on a fence post, on a building, and it would tell you if those people were kind, and would give you food and something to drink, or shelter, overnight, or it would tell you that, 'Don't come near this place.' 'The police are here.' 'There's a bad dog, here.' - [Joe] One of the two waiting rooms is dedicated to music artists. Not only the station's hero, but other music stars who called Madison their home. In the other waiting room, you discover antique items carried by travelers, back in the glory days of rail traveling. As well as a wall dedicated to some Madison memorabilia. - We had Hillbilly Day, which was a fundraiser for the schools. Men would grow beards, they would dress in old-timey clothes, and it was a fun time for the community, while supporting the school. - [Joe] Upstairs, the old switching machine still stands. A little worse for the wear, but, hopefully, destined for some restoration. - In the early days, they had what was called a foot switch. By the time this station was constructed, they had switching machines. Once you got the train order, and you knew where that train needed to go, you would push that lever around and it would switch the tracks, for you. - [Joe] Amqui Station is a house full of priceless memories. A proud tribute to the days when trains would collect passengers for romantic rides to places far and near. No one would understand that more than the man in black, who helped to save it. What do you think he would think, if he could walk through here, now? - He'd be amazed. Johnny would be amazed that you've kept it, and restored it, again. And it's being used for events, to help people. Johnny was all about, 'What can I do to help you?' - Tennessee has more than its share of beautiful rivers. Of course, they're less beautiful when they overflow their banks and destroy lives, and property. Now that was the case of the Obey River, until the Dale Hollow dam tamed it. It began generating electricity and, of course, providing a fantastic recreational area. - Dale Hollow is known as a vacation destination. We protect it, jealously, we have the beautiful, pristine shoreline, and forested hillsides. We're very proud of our lake, and what we do here. People will come out and recreate, enjoy, and you never think what this was like, before Dale Hollow was here. - [Joe] Sondra Carmen has thought a lot about what was here, before Dale Hollow dam tamed the Obey River. As a park ranger, she knows more than most about what was gained, and what was lost. - William Dale came to this area, he married a lady out of Willow Grove, Rachel Irons. They bought a 449-acre farm, in 1808, and it is told they're still within the Dale family, until 1942, when the dam was begun and the lake began. - [Joe] That beginning marked the end of a way of life, for residents upriver from Dale Hollow. - There were two major communities that were totally inundated. The Willow Grove community, and the Lillydale community. So there were a lot of people that did sacrifice, back then, by giving their farms. The core of engineers, and the federal government relocated over two thousand known grave sites onto private property. Those folks, they really did sacrifice quite a bit so that we can have what we have, today. - It was hard times, for those folks. All the families had to leave their farms, where they had been, for generations. I could relate to that, because I farm, myself, and it would be hard for me to leave my place. - [Joe] Dale Hollow superintendent, Stanley Carter, can also relate to their fate, on a much more personal level. - My family, well, my mother's side, and father's side, we are from the upper headwaters of the Obey River, itself. And, where my mother was born, it's underwater, now. With that being said, with this dam bein' replaced, it has saved millions upon millions of dollars, just in flood control, alone. Not to mention the hydroelectricity that we produce. - [Joe] Enough electricity to power a city of 45 thousand. Power that was sorely needed, back in '38, when the army core of engineers got the green light to begin planning the mammoth project. - March 2nd of 1942, construction began. It was completed in October of 1943, so it was record time. The dam, it is 200 feet tall, 1,717 feet wide. It goes straight down to bedrock, and on each side, it goes straight down to bedrock. - The original purpose for this dam was for flood control, and power generation. One of the most interesting things that you're gonna see, as we go downstairs, it's what we call the expirator cabinet. And the expirator cabinet is what opens and closes the gates, allowing more or less water, in to the turbine. We produce 18 megawatts of power, per unit. We have three units, which is 54 megawatts, is what we're able to produce. The roar of the rushing water, the enormous size of the concrete mountain, holding back the Obey River. It's hard to fathom the sheer scale of it all. But then consider that this huge, remote complex is just a tiny part of a nationwide electrical network known as the grid. - Several years ago, the whole eastern seaboard had all the blackouts. I was inside this powerhouse, when that happened, and we felt that. The generators, they started makin' these weird sounds. When you work here, you know what these units sound like, and you know when somethin' ain't right. So we just started doin' some investigation, then found out that we had a large section of the country that had blacked out. That was all the way up in New York, edge of Canada. We still felt it, here. - [Joe] After the tour, you'll want to reconnect with the soothing, natural wonders of the Dale Hollow reservoir. - It is so large that, even if you're out on a boat, even on the busiest times, there are places that you can go and tuck into a cove, and be undisturbed. We do have over 27 thousand acres of water, and almost 25 thousand acres of land. We have about 2.6 million visitors a year, that come to Dale Hollow. We have 15 commercial marinas on the lake, and two group camps. So, with those commercial marinas, they can rent boats, house boats, watercraft, so there is a lot of water sports that are available, here. Because we have such crystal clear waters, we're very popular for scuba. We also manage and operate four class A campgrounds, with over 400 campsites. Everything from a tent site, to an RV site, with water and electric hookup. So you can get a away from the city experience, com out and breathe the fresh air. But it is just a jewel of Tennessee. It's just gorgeous. - Well that's it for this week's Tennessee Crossroads. Hope you liked it, and hope you join us on our website, tennesseecrossroads.org. Follow us on Facebook, and we'll see ya next week. And keep Crossroads travelin'.
January 16, 2020
Season 33 | Episode 22
This week on Tennessee Crossroads, visit the Central Station Hotel in Memphis. Explore the restored Amqui Train Station in Madison. And finally, tour the Dale Hollow Dam and Reservoir in Celina. Watch this and more episode segments of Nashville Public Television's Tennessee Crossroads.