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It's an uphill climb to Monteagle, but a combination of must-see features makes navigating the road's steep grade worth every minute.
For starters, there's South Cumberland State Park, a must-do for the outdoor enthusiast. If you like a little more rumble to your ride, then there's Thunder on the Rock, a festival bringing together motorcycles and music. And for those looking for an interactive souvenir, an alpaca makes a surreal and cuddly pet.
-- Compiled By staff writer Adam Poulisse
Monteagle Mountain isn't a mountain, and other fun facts
• Population: 1,238.
• Biggest Employer: Sewanee: The University of the South
• Landmarks or geographic features: Monteagle sits on one of the highest points along the Cumberland Plateau
• Date founded: 1870
• History: Originally named Moffat Station after Scotland native John Moffat, the area was settled by Scottish immigrants in 1870
• Most famous resident: Rosa Parks attended classes at the Highlander Folk School before her bus demonstration in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955.
• Unique traditions: The first weekend in August is the Annual Monteagle Mountain Market for the Arts and Crafts. The second Monday in March is Taste of the Mountain, which offers an array of delicious dishes.
• Fun fact: Monteagle Mountain is actually not a mountain at all. Monteagle actually sits on the Cumberland Plateau, which stretches from Alabama to West Virginia.
Source: Various websites including the Monteagle Chamber of Commerce, and previous Times Free Press Reports
Brake Pad Breaker: Monteagle Mountain grade
Monteagle Mountain has earned itself a bit of notoriety for its allegedly treacherous stretch of Interstate 24 -- a 6-percent grade for four miles -- and has one of the three widest medians of any interstate in America.
• This patch of interstate has caught the attention of singer Johnny Cash. In his song titled "Monteagle Mountain," he sings: "There's a stretch of highway on Interstate 24 between Nashville and Chattanooga/That's claimed many truckers' life/And your life is in your hands when you start down that long steep grade/On Monteagle Mountain."
• Singer Jerry Reed also wrote a song about Monteagle Mountain, "The Legend," which is the title track of the film "Smokey and the Bandit." The song tells the story of how The Bandit experienced brake failure on the grade and lived.
Source: Newbiedriver.com and hotlyrics.net
Take a hike at South Cumberland State Park
South Cumberland State Park is equipped with about 10 different trails to traverse, as well as water falls, lakes and wonders of geology like the Sewanee Natural Bridge.
• Have a craving for the creepy-crawly? Go to http://tn.gov/environment/parks/SouthCumberland/ to download a printable Dragonflies and Damselflies checklist to help you keep track of the winged critters that you might come across.
The park has eight individual picnic areas with grills and two picnic pavilions.
• The recreation center (open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) houses sports ranging from basketball to horseshoes.
• A free museum displays the history and culture of the Southern Cumberland area. Hours are 8 a.m to 4:30 p.m.
• Open year around, including holidays.
Source: Tennessee Parks
Monteagle's fuzzy gem
Looking for an unconventional pet? Hidden Gem Ranch is stocked with Huacaya and Suri alpacas. Alpacas are lovable creatures that resemble llamas and humpless camels.
• Alpacas generally start around $500, and financing is available to help bring a lovable alpaca home.
• A strong herding instinct requires that alpacas have companions to graze with, so Hidden Gem Ranch will not sell an alpaca without a friend.
• The ranch is at 464 S. Industrial Park Road. No set hours.
Source: Hidden Gem Ranch
Rock on the Rock
• Thousands of bikers rev their engines as they pull into Thunder on the Rock, a Memorial Day Weekend music festival and bike rally.
• In addition to checking out all the slick bikes, live music and a battle of the bands is available.
• If you love rock music, bikes, and are at least 18 years old, this is one rock concert you can’t simply roll past. Tickets are $40 in advance and $60 at the gate.
• Held at 5118 Brawley Rd.
Source: Thunder on the Rock
Smoking the competition -- Jim Oliver’s Smoke House
• Fast facts: 850 W. Main St.; open at 6:30 a.m. everyday with extended hours on the weekends
• Owned by the Oliver family and named after Monteagle entrepreneur, Jim Oliver, who died in 2007.
• Jim Oliver’s Smoke House serves up hearty family style foods.
• Every Friday and Saturday night free music by some of Nashville’s most talented artists fills the restaurant.
• Too stuffed to drive home? The Smoke House Mountain Lodge provides a comfortable atmosphere to relax in.
Source: The Smoke House
Monteagle Mountain isn’t a mountain, and other fun facts.
• Population, 1,238.
• Biggest Employers, The University of the South
• Miles from downtown Chattanooga, 47.
• Landmarks or geographic feature: Monteagle sits on one of the highest points along the Cumberland Plateau.
• Date founded, 1870.
• Historic info: Originally named Moffat Station after Scotland native John Moffat, the area was originally settled by Scottish immigrants in 1870.
• Most famous resident: Rosa Parks attended classes at the Highlander Folk School before her bus demonstration in Montgomery, Ala.
• Odd/unique traditions: The first weekend in August is the Annual Monteagle Mountain Market for the Arts and Crafts. The second Monday in March is Taste of the Mountain, which offers an array of delicious dishes.
• Unique characteristics/fun fact: Monteagle Mountain is actually not a mountain at all. The Cumberland Plateau actually sits on the Cumberland Plateau, which stretches from Alabama to West Virginia.
Source: Various websites including the Monteagle Chamber of Commerce, and previous Times Free Press Reports.