- [Joe] This time on Tennessee Crossroads we go to a retro version of hamburger heaven in Bristol. Then we enjoy a natural get-a-way near Monteagle. We'll visit the home base of Dinstuhl's chocolate at Memphis and wind up with a scenic drive along the Natchez Trace Parkway. Hi everyone, I'm Joe Elmore. Welcome again to Tennessee Crossroads. Anybody can open a burger joint but few people can boast having one that's been going strong since 1942. The Burger Bar on the Virginia side of Bristol hasn't changed much over the years. The burgers are award-winning and it's still the site of an unsolved mystery. It's just off Straight Street on the Virginia side of Bristol. A local eatery with a tasty history going back to 1942. The Burger Bar's had several owners over the years. - [Kayla] And here. You need anything else? - [Joe Elmore] Kayla and Joe Deel have owned and operated it since 2013. Joe was on vacation the day of our visit. Though that's a picture of him. Kayla was holding court and making sure the Burger Bar lives up to its lofty reputation. - [Kayla] Last year we won Best Burger in Virginia. - [Joe] In the whole state? - Yes, in the whole state. We won that last year by a group called The Thrill List. And our burgers are half a pound. They're fresh never frozen patties. They're locally grown. Locally sourced. And we put a lot of love into them so I think that's what makes them good. And also our flat top is probably one of the oldest flat tops in the Tri-Cities. It's really well seasoned and we don't, we don't use any chemical cleaners on it so I think that has a lot to do with it too. The knobs are all broke off on it and it's just set to the temperature that we cook at so here you can't fiddle with it or else it messes up. - [Joe] That's Andrew Deel, Joe's nephew, manning the vintage grill and trying to stay ahead of the steady stream of customer orders. - [Andrew] You go through that many burgers on that tiny grill I'm like well you over anticipate number one. If I see six people come in I'm gonna throw six burgers down and just hope that they're going to get all of 'em. I've got it down to a science to where I'm can kinda like look at who's coming in and I'm like all right well that might be this many. That guy looks like he might be able to eat a double so I'm going to go ahead and put that in there. - [Joe] In addition to the standard hamburger and cheeseburger you might be tempted to try one of the many other versions. Fare warning though some are for serious appetites only. - [Kayla] We have some unusual burgers which that we've came up with since we bought it. The Oh My Cheese which is two grilled cheeses with a burger in the middle. - [Andrew] Here ya go. - And The Big Mick which is our version of the Big Mac. So it's two patties, three buns, a strict amount of lettuce, diced onions, pickles and homemade Thousand Island. And it's actually a pound of meat. So it's a really big burger. We always try to warn people before they order it. Hey, you know hope you don't have anything to do the rest of the day. - Now the challenge is figuring out how to eat this thing. Meanwhile, another attraction to The Burger Bar is the story behind a country music star. You see according to the legend The Burger Bar was the last place Hank Williams Sr. was seen alive. Oh man. As the story goes the singer and his driver stopped here in route to a 1952 New Year's Eve gig in Ohio. That was before Hank Sr. died in the back seat of his car before reaching the destination. - I think the driver probably did stop and come in. but I think that in that point in time Hank was so incapacitated that he didn't actually come in. But, he was here and we've had people tell us that they saw Hank here writing songs on paper bags. - [Joe] Legend or not the singer is lovingly linked to the menu. You see many burgers are named after his title songs. The original dining room with its chrome bar and round stools is cozy but small. So shortly after buying the place the Deels knocked out a wall and added another room. One that embellishes the Burger Bar's retro theme. - [Kayla] I definitely wanted the checkerboard floor and this bar right here was original to the building. And we wanted to repurpose it. And we wanted to match it with the countertops next door which were the Boomerang formica tops from the '50s but they don't make it anymore. So we tried to come up with something. And we actually took records and did it under the two part epoxy to make it fit with the place. - [Joe] Of course what's a real burger feast without french fries? Or better yet a good old-fashioned milkshake. - [Customer] Thank you. - [Waitress] You're welcome. - [Kayla] We have probably about 65 different flavors of shakes and we still do it the old-fashioned way and we scoop the ice cream. It's not a pre-made mix or anything. We use real milk and whenever we can we use real fruit or fruit puree in our milkshakes. And we have the old-fashioned spinner milkshake machine. - [Joe] There are numerous other menu items like chili dogs and reubens but burger is part of the name and part of the fame and it's still the main juicy attraction for diners of all ages. In addition to award-winning, crowd pleasing cuisine there's a warm family like vibe here that comes with every customer's order. - [Kayla] And we have great staff so that's a big part of it too. - Thanks guys. Enjoy. - [Kayla] A lot of the staff here are family or long time friends. - [Joe] Joe and Kayla Deel have found their real calling. Preserving this cordial piece of downtown Bristol history and sustaining a burger reputation that's number one in the hearts of dedicated diners. - [Customer #2] Thumbs up. Oh, you're number one. - [Child] My finger. - It's definitely a spot to come and see and everybody loves the 50's vibe and it's like stepping back in time we like to say you know. - No doubt about it quality time spent in the beauty of nature can be just what the doctor ordered. And one of the most beautiful sites in the state happens to be Tennessee's largest state park. South Cumberland is located in and around Monteagle. And that's where we catch up with Rob Wilds who went there to recharge his batteries so to speak. - [Rob] This is South Cumberland State Park and so is this. And this. Thousands of acres. Always beautiful and as George Shin, manager of South Cumberland State Park, says always changing. - [George] And in the fall you you have these beautiful bluff overlooks and you can see the Poplars and the Maple trees changing colors and then and those Hickories and Oaks and then in the spring you go to those same overlooks and you see everything coming up and you hike the topography and everything from the top getting down into the gorge changes as well. - [Rob] Landscapes change. History goes on. Many places in the park have interesting pasts. Take the Great Stone Door. - [George] Early pioneers, early native Americans they used it because the cliff line was just so steep and dangerous they found a little pathway that was safe for them to get down and actually when you get to the base of Stone Door, there's actually a rock shelter that a lot of folks call Post Office. Where pioneers and these people that traveled that route trying to get to McMinnville from Chattanooga. They would actually leave messages and mail for other folks. Family or friends that were knew would be traveling through. - [Rob] A turn of history in the form of a long ago feud between logging companies over a choice stand of timber. Rather than kill each other they agreed that neither side would get the prize. Which left a beautiful and unique stand of old growth trees for us to enjoy. - [George] When a lot of people when you talk about Old Growth Forest they imagine you know like the Redwood Forest and these huge big trees but that's not what it looks like at all. There's trees that are just what would be in in your yard at home and smaller because of the rocks and just the soil the lack of it there down as you get into the gorge. But, those trees that are small are you know every bit of four hundred years old. So, it's an amazing thing just you know the slow growth. There are some huge trees and I think that's the most amazing factor to see these how these Poplars and Hemlocks could get so large with such little soil and to grow in those rocks with the little sunlight that gets down in there. - [Rob] The Rangers here know all the history and the legends too. Like the legend of how Fiery Gizzard Creek got its name. - [George] David Crockett used to prowl around these woods and he was near near the Gizzard Creek and with a bunch of his friends, doing some hunting. They had killed a turkey. They were sittin' there underneath a rock shelter and frying it up and they got it all fried up and he went to go eat that turkey gizzard and it was still a little bit too hot and the oil and burned his mouth and he spit it out and he said, "Ow fiery gizzard" and then name just stuck every since. - [Rob] So many beautiful places to see in the park the good thing is you don't have to be some wilderness hiker to get to all of them. For instance, Foster Falls here. Just beautiful. 125 yards from the parking lot. - [George] It's a beautiful waterfall, eight feet tall, beautiful plunge pool. It's a moderate hike down to the base of it. Great rock climbing walls and TVA used to operate it before our state park took it over. And now we operate. There's a camp ground there. But, it's beautiful. You can take short hikes or you can just continue hiking the whole Fiery Gizzard Trail which is a twelve mile linear trail. - [Rob] And throughout the park, many trails for hikers of every ability. - [George] We have 13 trail heads across the whole park and from each trail head, I mean you can go as far as you want. I mean we have a hundred miles through the park totally so if you just really want to do a lot of hiking you can do that. But, you can get to a destination. A beautiful over look or a water fall, natural bridge there's some kind of point of interest with in a couple of miles. - [George] With more and more added each year. Thanks in large measure to the friends of South Cumberland State Park. Noland Kendrick is a member who knows where all the good spots are. Of course he has his favorites. - [Noland] Just in the past year alone we've grown we've gotten over 7 thousand new acres so there's all kinds of new places to go to. There's new trails. We're working on many new trails. There's all kinds of new opportunities so there's a lot of places that I haven't been yet and that a lot of other people haven't had the chance to go yet so the my favorite place is the next place wherever that's gonna be. - [Rob] Wherever that site is in South Cumberland State Park you can bet it will be a sight to behold. - Okay, thanks a lot Rob Nothing says love like chocolate. Nothing says chocolate like Dinstuhl's Chocolate. Tammi Arender goes inside this fifth generation candy company that's been going strong since 1902. ♪ When I fall in love ♪ ♪ It will be forever ♪ - [Tammi] Watching a velvety smooth river of chocalate is almost hypnotizing. It's something about the luxurious sweetened cocoa that can improve a person's mood or win a woman's heart. - [Rebecca] Chocolate is very healthy for you and that is you know become very vogue today but we've always eaten chocolate. In fact I have a grandmother who's 102 and she eats chocolate daily. - [Tammi] Rebecca Dinstuhl knows just about everything there is to know about chocolate. Her great, great, great-grandfather started Dinstuhl's Fine Candies in 1902. The Moss family of Memphis became involved with the company in 2003. The two families are working together now. Rebecca and son Andrew Dinstuhl are still hands-on in the business and in the kitchen. - [Rebecca] Because making chocolate and making candy the way we do it has to be a passion. It's not something that you just read a recipe book and you make it. - [Tammi] There's obviously a lot more to making fine chocolate and candies than just following the recipe. That's why the Dinstuhls continue to do everything by hand. One of the secrets to the nut clusters is the tempering of the chocolate with the warmth in the palm and fingers it brings about the right consistency and texture. - [Rebecca] Every piece is hand done so it may not be a perfect shape but we like to think that it's going to taste the same each and every time that you taste a piece of Dinstuhl's candies. - [Tammi] There's also something to be said for practice makes perfect. Tommy Washington has worked at Dinstuhl's for 47 years. He can make every thing in the product line but his specialty the mints. He can make hundreds of quarter-sized melt-in-your mouth mints in just minutes. It's an art that few can master. But Tommy was given some advice by Mr. Dinstuhl in 1963 that served him well to this day. - [Tommy] I learned to love it because my boss he told me if I learned to make candy, I'd never be out without a job. - [Tammi] While Tommy's been at the chocolate factory the longest, he's joined by others who love their jobs. Jesse and Jerome work as a team in making Dinstuhl's signature piece, the Cashew Crunch. - [Rebecca] Once it reaches the peak temperature it's poured out onto the table that's already been laced with fine coconut. Then it's rolled flat, scored into squares and then cut up into bite size pieces ready to be packaged into the boxes for the stores. - [Tammi] I couldn't just sit on the sidelines watching the Cashew crunch being made I was like a kid in a candy store literally. I had to get involved. I really just wanted to play in the corn syrup. Since Cashew Crunch is their signature item I just had to know how to make it so I got Jesse here the expert to tell me. We start with white sugar? - White sugar. - And then. - Brown sugar. - And then two scoops of brown sugar? - Um huh. - Two full scoops, right? - Yeah. - All right. That's good. - Okay, that's good. - And now you're going to make a little hole for me. - We're going to make a little pocket here. - My favorite part... - The reason why we make a pocket is because we don't want the corn syrup to get around the bowl and it stick so we make a little pocket and it holds the corn syrup. - Oh, okay. - And you come over here. - And you just dip it in there lightly. - Okay. - Enough to cover and then you pull out. - Okay. - All right. Now, take it and just twist it real good. - Just twist it. - Oh, look at that. - That's okay. It's gonna roll off. - Ew it's heavy. - How much? Like that? - Okay, let it roll off. Now twist it again. - All right. - Now if you can, let that roll off. Now roll it over this way. - Okay, you ready? - Yep. There you go. Now go. - I don't want to get it on the floor. - There you go. - I got it. None on the floor. - There you go. - All in the batch. - You just hold it high and it will run off itself. - Oh, isn't that fun. Oh, I could do this every day. No wonder you love your job. - [Tammi] I dare not get too involved or the profits could end up on the floor. We next move over to the conveyor belt of chocolate. It's where the fudge hearts are baptized, shaken and then christened with yet another candy heart. A separate conveyor belt is used for painting the pretzels. Each salty treat gets a coating on its back side before waiting patiently for its journey through the tunnel of love. - [Rebecca] The traditions that are created by the products that we make for many families for many generations are very valuable to us and we don't take that lightly. - [Tammi] While the process of making chocolate is appealing it's the end product that really teases our taste buds. Truffles, turtles and other tantalizing treats. Dinstuhl's even has an official Elvis Presley line bringing too Memphis traditions together. Neither of which show signs of fading away anytime soon. ♪ When I fall in love ♪ ♪ With you. ♪ - Well thanks Tammi. Well here's a weekend trip idea for you that's so close that we often forget it's there. Natchez Trace State Park is a national treasure that runs right through Tennessee. And as Ken Wilshire discovered, it won't cost you much just a little fuel for the car if you drive and a little time to stop and enjoy the scenery. - Before we get started, you'll have to forgive my pride. I want to show you some land that I own here in middle Tennessee. Actually it runs through Alabama and all of Mississippi. Almost 45 thousand acres. All of the land is enclosed and most of it by this beautifully, quaint split-rail fencing. And one of the things that I really enjoy about this property is is this, so just listen. You hear it? You're right. You don't hear a thing. Nothing but peace and quiet. Well to be truthful about it this land doesn't only belong to me, it belongs to you and everybody in this country. It's the Natchez Trace Parkway and it's a national park. And it runs all the way from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. - [Joe] In all there are almost 450 miles of some of the most scenic, historic sites the southeastern United States has to offer and part of it's right here in our own Tennessee back yard. It contains some 22 hundred species of plants and you can only imagine the incredible number of birds and animals that find refuge here. And no, this isn't a landscape painting, it's a spectacular, panoramic view from just one of the parkway's many vistas. Daniel Kimes is a Park Ranger here. He clearly understands what the trace means to us all. - [Daniel] In Tennessee we have a lot of sites similar to this one where people can enjoy the natural aspects as well as the historical and cultural landmarks. This being the old trace drive on the south end people can drive through here and see what the old trace would have been like to travel in the 17 and 1800's. The north end is the prettiest to me. You're going to see a lot of vistas a lot of overlooks. There are several long walks on some improved trails. Like Jackson Falls. It really is out of place for this area. It's almost like being at you know one of the eastern parks. Fall Creek Falls, something like that. The falls isn't as big but the terrain is similar to that. - [Joe] It all began as a path made by prehistoric animals and evolved into a roadway connecting the Mississippi River with the Cumberland River. Some of the most celebrated travelers in the early 1800's were boatman or Cane Tucks as they were called. They moved their goods out of the Midwest down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to Natchez for sale. Then they returned home via the trace. But, there were many, many more people who used this wilderness road. - So you see multiple tracks as we walk along this old stretch of trace. - So Andrew Jackson walked through here? - He did. - Meriwether Lewis? - He did. - Wow. Choctaw and Chickasaw. - And many many more. - Yeah. - Bison? - I'm sure at one time. - [Joe] One of the more modern features of the park is the bridge that crosses Highway 96 near Franklin. It's one of only two structures like it in the world. It's an engineering marvel and offers this stunning hawk-eye view of the valley below. The parkway is a haven for biodiversity and contains four to five ecosystems throughout the rich river bluffs, plains, swamps and bayous of southern Mississippi. It crosses lakes and river and creeks to the rolling hills and forests of middle Tennessee. - [Daniel] I believe the trace is an undiscovered gem both in the national park service and especially in the southeast. I don't believe people realize it's here. I don't believe they realize the significance of the Natchez Trace. It's something to experience, something to take your time stop and see the sights. 'Cause if you just drive through, you're missing out. - [Joe] And if you want to receive a so called honorary degree from this school of curvy roads you'll find an overwhelming curriculum. There's local, state, national and world history. Science and sociology. It's a lab for continuing research and even a place for solving a 200 hundred year old mystery that might involve a cold case investigation. - [Daniel] Meriwether Lewis was traveling back to Washington on his way back from the upper Louisiana Territory. The newly appointed governor. When he stayed at Grinder's Inn right there at the Meriwether Lewis sight and met his demise. It's mysterious and no one knows exactly what happened. You don't realize the national importance of a person like that and when you look into the history and you see who he was. He was passing through here on his way back to Washington to report to the President of the United States. That's pretty significant. Meriwether Lewis died there at the Grinder's Inn. - [Joe] And one of the incredible features of the entire Natchez Trace Parkway experience is that it won't cost you a dime. There are no fees, no reservations. All that's required is to simply observe the park rules and regulations and respect the ownership all of us have in one of the nations's most beautiful places. - [Ken] Do you think people realize that they own this piece of land? - [Daniel] I don't. I mean this is the national park. It's for the visitor. It's our national park. You know, yours, mine and everyone else's. And take ownership in that. Treat it like it's yours and that means take care of it. - Well that's going to do it for this edition of Tennessee Crossroads. Thanks for joining me. Don't forget our website tennesseecrossroads.org. Follow us on Facebook and join me right here again next week. Meanwhile, stay happy. Stay safe.
May 21, 2020
Season 33 | Episode 37
This week on Tennessee Crossroads, visit a Bristol burger joint that's famous for being the last place Hank Williams Sr. was seen alive. Discover the many beautiful sights to behold at South Cumberland State Park. Stop by a candy company in Memphis that's been making chocolate since 1902. And explore the 444-mile long Natchez Trace Parkway. Brought to you by Nashville Public Television!