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Region is steeped in blue and gray Civil War history
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From treading the links on a Bear Trace golf course and horseback rides in the hills to a bevy of lakeside activities, Winchester, Tenn., is an outdoorsman’s paradise.
Fortunately, there’s also plenty to do for those who prefer a roof over their heads.
Perched at the eastern end of Tims Ford Lake in the rolling foothills of the Cumberland Mountains, the seat of Franklin County has a reputation for rustic living and fresh air.
— Compiled by staff writer Casey Phillips, email@example.com, 423-757-6205
BEST THING TO DO:
THIS TOWN’S CHOO-CHOO
Something Old(ham), something new
Check out some of the latest cinematic releases in one of Winchester’s oldest movie houses, the Oldham Theatre (115 1st Ave. NE).
• The Oldham originally opened as a replacement for WInchester’s Ravoli Theatre on the opposite side of the downtown square.
• Recent renovations to the facility have improved seating and curtains while preserving the theater’s historic facade.
• The Oldham has two screens, one upstairs and one downstairs, that display first-run films.
BEST KEPT SECRET
Do not pass go.
Just east of downtown, guests can take a gander at a collection of Civil War- and pioneer-era artifacts in the eight themed rooms of the Old Jail Museum (400 Dinah Shore Blvd.).
• Built in the late 19th century, the museum was the site of the county jail until 1972, when it was replaced by a more modern facility.
• In addition to its historical collections, the museum also hosts memorabilia associated with celebrated Winchester native Dinah Shore.
• Open March through October. Admission $1 adults, 50 cents for children. 931-967-0524.
Brisket, booms and blooms
• High on the Hog Barbeque Competition — Music, food and outdoor activities and over $10,000 in prizes are the primary draws to this annual Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned cook-off in Winchester City Park. (Third weekend in April, free entrance but some special events have a fee.)
• International Dogwood Festival — This Southeast Tourism Top 20 event features two days of music with two stages of music, a kids play area and dog, car and tractor shows. (First weekend in May, free.)
• Thunder Over the Lake Fireworks Extravaganza — Beginning at dusk on July 4, the town of Winchester celebrates America’s birthday with a pyrotechnic display best viewed from the city park or by boat from Tims Ford Lake (July 4, dusk, Winchester City Park).
Benvenuti a Winchester
• Arezzo’s Restaurant offers fine northern Italian dishes, such as linguine bolognese and pasta torrino, right off the town square. (101 2nd Ave. NW, open 4:30-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4:30-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday)
• The restaurant recently received its liquor license and offers a wine list of Californian, German and Italian vintages by the glass and by the bottle.
• After dinner, take a three-block stroll up Dinah Shore Boulevard to the river.
History by the lakeside
• Population: 7,876
• Biggest employers: Franklin County School System, Southern Tennessee Medical Center and Shaw Industries
• Number of miles from downtown Chattanooga: 65
• Landmarks or geographic features: The city wraps around the eastern branch of Tims Ford Lake. Nearby Tims Ford State Park occupies a series of peninsulas jutting into the lake.
• Date founded: 1809 (established as county seat)
• Historic info: Winchester was founded on a bluff overlooking Boiling Fork River. The initial 26-acre holding was purchased for $1 by a founding council of seven commissioners. The town is named for Revolutionary War and War of 1812 veteran Gen. James Winchester, who founded the city of Memphis in 1819.
• Most famous residents: Former University of Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer, actress/singer Dinah Shore and businessman/philanthropist John Templeton.
• Odd/unique traditions: After World War I, large quantities of crimson clover were imported from France and planted throughout Franklin County as a cash crop. From 1936 to 1954, about a dozen festivals were held to celebrate the plant, of which only one, the Crimson Clover Ball, is still held every May in Winchester.
• Unique characteristics/fun fact: Winchester has streets named for two its famous former residents. Both Dinah Shore Boulevard and Phillip Fulmer Parkway cross over the lake.
Tims Ford Lake is Best for bass
Tims Ford Lake sprawls across 10,700 acres. It has offered prime fishing for more than 40 years following the completion of Tims Ford Dam, a TVA project, in 1970.
• The lake is highly rated among anglers for largemouth and smallmouth bass but is also home to plenty of crappie, walleye and other species.
• Don’t own a boat? Dive into an Olympic-size pool, one of the largest in the Tennessee State Park System, from Memorial Day weekend until early to mid-August.
• Remember to stock up on supplies before heading out with a stop at the Lakeview Marina (931-967-6711).
Source: TVA.gov, TN.gov
Source: Winchester-tn.com, Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau