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Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!
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Paris, Tennessee





July 14 this week was French National Day, known more commonly to us as Bastille Day. It commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, an event that celebrated the end of the French Revolution. It also corresponds to the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. The French celebrate this day with gatherings and fireworks much as we celebrate our July 4 Independence Day. So I thought it appropriate that this entry in the For Namesake Blog should be for a town in America named after the French City of Paris. In my book "For Namesake, a Travel Book" I write about thirteen such incorporated towns named Paris.[1] For this entry I have chosen Paris Tennessee where they have a very nice 60 foot high replica of the Eiffel Tower. The tower is located on Maurice Fields Drive near the intersection with Volunteer Drive. Here are the coordinates (36.286774, -88.301557) and a link to a map http://aMAP.to/eiffeltower-paristn




Paris, Tennessee is a city of 10,156 located in Henry County along US Routes 79 and 641. Tennessee Routes 54 and 69 also pass through the town. Paris is on a fork of the West Sandy River and is the county seat of Henry County. It lies 90 miles west of Nashville. The closest college is Bethel College in McKenzie.


Henry County was formed in 1821 and was named for Patrick Henry. The town of Paris was established as the county seat in September of 1823, becoming West Tennessee’s oldest incorporated community. The town was named for the French capital in honor of Lafayette who had visited Tennessee in the early 1800’s. The county’s first courthouse was a two room “dogtrot” type of log cabin built that first year. Court was held in one room while pies and liquor were sold in the other room. Henry County sent more than 2,500 volunteers to the Confederacy in the Civil War giving it the title of Volunteer County of the Volunteer State”. In March of 1862 Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant, attacked the Confederate encampment at Paris. General Nathan Bedford Forrest of the Confederacy began his Johnsonville Campaign at Paris Landing in October of 1864. In World War II Camp Tyson was built south of Paris and trained thousands of American servicemen for the Barrage Balloon Service of the Coast Artillery Corps. The camp also held German prisoners of War. In 1821 Henry County’s first tourist attraction Sulphur Well, was created by accident when a well was sunk in an attempt to locate a salt bed on a Chickasaw Indian reservation. A summer resort was established there allowing persons to take the waters to promote their health. Many sought refuge there during an 1837 yellow fever epidemic. Sulphur Well was covered up in 1944 when the Tennessee Valley Authority created Kentucky Lake, the largest man made lake in the United States. Paris Landing State Park was created at the lake in 1945 and Paris became known as the “Capital City of Kentucky Lake”. [2]


In Paris you may see the Eiffel Tower Replica (60 feet high), Henry County Courthouse, Historic Downtown Paris with a walking tour, Krider Performing Arts Center, Paris Henry County Arts Council, Paris Henry County Heritage Center, and the Paris Winery. Paris is known as the home of the “World’s Biggest Fish Fry” which is held every April. In nearby Mackenzie you may visit the Gordon Browning Museum and Veterans Memorial Park. Fort Donelson National Battlefield is located at the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area near the community of Dover.


The Land Between the Lakes is the name of the region to the northeast of Paris that is between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. There you will find Paris Landing State Park and the Big Sandy Unit of the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge. Other recreational sites in easy driving distance from Paris include Big Cypress Tree State Natural Area, Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge, Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park, Stewart State Forest and the West Sandy Wildlife Management Area.


Notable residents of Paris include Howell Edmunds Jackson, United States Supreme Court Justice; Vernon Jarrett, newspaper columnist; Bobby Jones, Grammy Award winning gospel singer; Cherry Jones, Tony Award wining actress; Charles Gilbert “Chick” King, Major League Baseball player; Henry Neal, pianist & part of the piano duo Nelson and Neal; James D. Porter, Jr., former Tennessee Governor; and Stephen M. Veazey, president of the Community of Christ.


Another Namesake Town, "Milan Tennessee", lies just forty miles to the southwest of Paris.




1. http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B00CBM6JFK/



2. http://www.paristnchamber.com/history.htm


Picture credit (Wikimedia Commons - User: Chiacomo Public Domain)




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