As you drive through the southeast region of the United States, there is much to see near the road in Kentucky and Tennessee. Here are six unique roadside attractions that will blow your mind you should consider visiting.
Bell Witch Cave (Tennessee)
For fans of horror movies and witch tales, do not miss out on this stop where the supernatural permeates reality. The Historic Bell Witch Cave is the property and cave once owned by John Bell. In the early 1800s, an unseen force known as Kate the Bell’s Witch began terrorizing the Bell home, particularly John Bell and his daughter Betsy. This legend is part of Tennessee history and is still taught in schools today. Visit the home of this mysterious spirit and see what remains of the land haunted by torment and trouble for this family.
Established in 2003, Punkyville is a scaled-down retro town you won’t find anywhere else, especially on a map. Charles “Punky” Beckett built this town to house the antique and novelty items he has collected over the years. The town has a number of buildings that resemble a general store, a gas station, a hotel, a dentist’s office, a post office and a church with items displayed to match each building’s theme. With a population of two, the self-proclaimed mayor and his wife welcome visitors to look around at this collection of items without charging admission. About two miles south of Falmouth, this town is a wonderful place to visit, whether it’s for browsing Punky’s collections, taking photos or having a wedding in the chapel.
Children’s Holocaust Memorial (Tennessee)
In the small town of Whitwell, middle school students tried to grapple with the scale of the Holocaust in a voluntary after-school program in 1998. They decided to represent each individual who died during the Holocaust by collecting six million paper clips, a symbol of resistance and silent protest used by Norwegians against the Nazis during World War II. This project eventually turned into the Children’s Holocaust Memorial, which houses some of the paper clips they collected inside an authentic German railcar. The students greatly surpassed their original goal of six million paper clips once the project gained international attention, receiving a grand total of more than 30 million paper clips over time. This simple memorial kept at Whitwell Middle School is available for touring and remains a symbol of tolerance and diversity, as well as a reminder and a tribute to an important period of world history.
Colonel Sanders Statue (Kentucky)
Kentucky Fried Chicken was indeed invented in Kentucky. Today the man behind it all has a life-sized bronze statue in the place where it all started. The Colonel Sanders Statue was unveiled in 2015 in Sanders Park in Corbin, the town where the Colonel opened his first restaurant more than 70 years ago. If you’re a KFC lover, be sure to take a second and pose with the friendly Colonel who made a bucket of fried chicken possible.
International Friendship Bell (Tennessee)
Located in Bissell Park, the International Friendship Bell is a significant piece of global history. This traditional Japanese bell is 8,000 pounds of bronze with many engravings and a rich, resounding tone. Because of Oak Ridge’s critical role in the Manhattan Project, the location of the bell is truly a marker of the friendship shared between Japan and Oak Ridge. As a symbol of peace commemorating the horrors of war and the workers who played a role in innovating science and ending World War II and the Cold War, ring this bell to remember the past and look to the future.
Cocaine Bear (Kentucky)
An innocent victim of the Bluegrass Conspiracy, Cocaine Bear is a black bear who died in 1985 in the Chattahoochee National Forest after ingesting nearly $15 million worth of cocaine dropped by convicted drug smuggler Andrew Thornton. The taxidermied bear passed through a number of hands throughout the years before 2015, when it found its home with Whit Hiler and Griffin VanMeter, proud owners of the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall, a marketplace for locals and a home for unusual Kentucky relics. There, Cocaine Bear stands as the Fun Mall’s mascot. This bear that overdosed on 76 pounds of cocaine, affectionately named Pablo EskoBear, is a photo shoot favorite, and it even bears a warning: “Don’t do drugs or you’ll end up dead (and maybe stuffed) like poor Cocaine Bear.”
These neighboring states have much to offer in terms of international and local history. From witches to drugs to war, Kentucky and Tennessee have it all for your next road trip.
This article is presented by Don Jacobs Volkswagen in Lexington, Kentucky.