We have been enjoying our weeklong stay in Knoxville, Tennessee, as we explore the sights of eastern Tennessee. When we arrived here on Labor Day weekend we didn’t know that Knoxville is famous for the annual Labor Day fireworks display called Boomsday. Crowds began gathering downtown early in the day on Sunday to visit vendor booths, listen to live bands and find the best places to set up chairs in preparation for the start of the fireworks at dark. We made sure to get there early enough to find parking and then had plenty of time to walk around and enjoy the festivities.
We could see that the fireworks were going to be set off from an unused railroad bridge that spans the Tennessee River in the downtown area. Our chairs were set up for prime viewing. We had our umbrellas with us and had to use them before the fireworks started as a couple of thundershowers passed overhead.
Promptly at 9:30 the display began and I have to say that it was the most impressive fireworks display I have ever seen. For 30 minutes the sky was filled with multiple bursts, there was an accompanying soundtrack over the loudspeakers and twice there was also this awesome effect where a waterfall of cascading lighted fireworks flowed down from the railroad bridge to the river below. The last 5 minutes of the grand finale came just as the heavens opened up with a huge downpour of rain that sent people running in every direction. Even with our umbrellas we got wet but it all added to the excitement and fun of the event. A Labor Day weekend I won’t forget, that’s for sure.
Besides being famous for the annual Boomsday event, Knoxville also has the distinction that in 1982 it hosted the World’s Fair. There is a World’s Fair Park downtown that commemorates the event. The Sunsphere is a steel truss tower topped with a gold-colored glass sphere that was set up as the symbol of the fair. From the observation deck of the Sunsphere we were able to get a bird’s eye view of the city.
There is also a lot of Civil War history that one can learn by visiting Knoxville. Tennessee was on the side of the Confederacy but the majority of Eastern Tennessee favored the Union side. Earthen forts built by Union armies on the bluffs of the Tennessee River overlooking Knoxville were important in defending the city in several battles that took place as the Confederacy tried to take the city. We visited one of those forts, Fort Dickerson.
Today we wandered further afield and drove to Cookesville, Tennessee. We had heard that it was a good place for relocating retirees and wanted to check it out. I can’t say much about Cookesville, but I was awestruck by the waterfalls we saw at nearby Burgess Falls State Park Natural Area. The sign at the trailhead explained that there were a series of 3 falls, the largest being the third one. The first 2 were worth seeing, but the 3rd one really was something special. The 3rd one had a trail that you could hike down to get to the base. It warned hikers that it would be a strenuous climb and Lee wasn’t sure he wanted to do it. But we made our way down there and were more than glad that we had done it.
Tomorrow our plan is to do a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is not too far from Knoxville. Several years ago we visited a different part of the park but tomorrow we will see what other trails we can find there to explore.