The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Meet Tennessee

Get out of the Vanderbubble and learn more about the state our campus calls home.
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Lexie Perez
A graphic depicting the three red stars of the Tennessee state flag over a blue background with outlines of the state. (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)

It’s easy for students to remain inside the so-called Vanderbubble and rarely explore the city, let alone the state of Tennessee. Whether you’re a new student who just got accepted into Vanderbilt or a senior getting ready to move on in life, it’s never too early or late for a little meet-and-greet with the state we call home when at school. Here’s some fun facts about Tennessee and its regions that you should find time to explore.

Fun Facts

Tennessee was declared the 16th state of the United States in 1796. The name most likely comes from the name of a Cherokee town named “Tanasi” in the eastern part of the present-day state. The state nickname, “The Volunteer State,” comes from the overwhelming number of Tennesseans who volunteered to fight in both the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War.

Additionally, Tennessee is one of the fastest-growing states in the country. Some of this growth can be attributed to the lack of income tax in the state, which is a major selling point for people and businesses looking to relocate. 

Several famous entertainers, such as Dolly Parton, Aretha Franklin and Justin Timberlake, are originally from Tennessee and have added to its long musical history. Long before these performers, though, Tennessee was also home to several prehistoric species, such as mastodons, that left their fossils behind, making the state a bountiful dig site for paleontologists.

Centennial Park’s Parthenon on a sunny afternoon, as captured on Sept. 2, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Laura Vaughan) (Laura Vaughan)

Central

You can’t talk about Tennessee without talking about its capital and Vanderbilt’s home, Nashville. The city is home to iconic Tennessee landmarks such as the honky-tonks on Broadway, the recording studios on Music Row and the Parthenon at Centennial Park. Nashville recently overtook Memphis as Tennessee’s most populous city in 2016, and it’s a huge hub for touring artists who are looking to perform in “Music City.”

If you’re a sports fan, then Central Tennessee is perfect for you. Nashville is home to the Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators, professional sports teams for the NFL and the NHL, respectively. 

For those looking to explore further out from Nashville, other popular Central Tennessee (also known as Middle Tennessee) destinations include the historic small town Franklin for its boutiques and restaurants, Lynchburg for its Jack Daniel’s distillery and the Upper Cumberland valley for its nature and river exploration.

Graceland, Elvis Presley’s estate, in Memphis, Tenn. as captured on March 25, 2009. (Courtesy of Russ Glasson) (Russ Glasson)

West

Taking a trip to the western part of Tennessee is a great way to spend a free weekend away from Nashville. Anyone looking to explore another of the state’s famous cities should make a stop in Memphis, Tennessee’s former most-populous city right alongside the Mississippi River. Memphis is home to several incredible sites, such as the historic Beale Street, the Peabody Hotel (and its famous ducks), the Bass Pro Shop pyramid and my personal favorite, Jerry’s Sno Cones.

Perhaps the most iconic site in Memphis is the estate of Elvis Presley, Graceland. This National Historical Landmark is a must-see for die-hard Elvis fans and also anyone who just really enjoyed watching Austin Butler in the 2022 movie. Graceland is the most famous house in the United States after the White House.

If you’re looking for nature, then west Tennessee still has you covered. Reelfoot Lake State Park is one of the most beautiful and curiosity-sparking places in the state. The lake was formed from earthquakes in the early 1800s that changed the flow of the Mississippi and created the lake. Visitors can hike, kayak, fish and more at this state park.

Both Memphis and Reelfoot Lake are approximately a three and a half hour drive from Nashville.

Pigeon Forge and the Smoky Mountains, as photographed on Oct. 19, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Isabella Bautista) (Isabella Bautista)

East

If you’re up for the challenge of changing time zones, then heading eastward in Tennessee can bring you to some truly wonderful places among the Smoky Mountains.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited national park in the country, and for good reason; this part of the Appalachian chain is truly a wonder to behold. The mountains, which are perfect for hiking, photography and fishing, get their name from the smoke-like fog that frequently settles over them. At only four hours away from Nashville, this park is a must-do getaway for a long weekend.

Nestled near the mountains are the towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, which are both popular tourist destinations for those in the area. These towns include iconic attractions such as dinner shows, amusement parks like Dollywood and lodges to stay in where you can enjoy the mountain views.

For a quicker trip to the mountains, Chattanooga is only two and a half hours away from Nashville. This charming city has many fun activities to do and sites to see, such as an extensive riverwalk along the Tennessee River, the historic incline railway up Lookout Mountain and the jaw-dropping caves of the underground waterfall at Ruby Falls.

With a plethora of fun facts and beautiful landmarks to visit, Tennessee has so much to offer as Vanderbilt’s home state. When you stop to consider these wondrous aspects of Tennessee, the state slogan “America at its best” makes a whole lot of sense.

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About the Contributors
Chloe Whalen, Deputy Life Editor
Chloe Whalen (‘27) is from Herscher, Ill., and is studying communication of science and technology in the College of Arts and Science. In her spare time, she enjoys running, listening to multiple genres of music and podcasts and doing jigsaw puzzles. She can be reached at [email protected].
Laura Vaughan, Senior Staff Photographer
Laura Vaughan (‘25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science studying mathematics and economics. When not out on an assignment for The Hustler, she can be found studying in the Schulman Center, having lunch at Frutta Bowls or trying to clean her file structure. She is available at [email protected].
Isabella Bautista, Deputy Life Editor
Isabella Bautista (‘26) is double majoring in mathematics and psychology and minoring in biological sciences on the pre-medical track in the College of Arts and Science. She is from Easton, Pa. When not writing for The Hustler, she can be found spending hours alone in a piano practice room, photographing Vanderbilt squirrels with her Canon camera or poring over research papers in the lab she works in. She can be reached at [email protected]  
Lexie Perez, Graphics Director
Lexie Perez (‘26) is from Northern Virginia and is majoring in climate studies and human and organizational development and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. She enjoys listening to 70s and 80s pop music, doing the daily Wordle and rooting for the Nashville Predators and Cincinnati Bengals. She can be reached at [email protected].
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The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
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George Albu
1 month ago

I love the fun facts! 🙂