Forgotten Historical Sites In Memphis
Memphis is an old city that has served as a stage for many world changing people and events. The most well known, is probably Elvis Presley. However, there are other amazing people with stories as phenomenal as Elvis', but yet are struggling to survive in his larger than life shadow, that hangs over the history of Memphis.
Memphis' first inhabitants were Native American Indians who lived along the Mississippi River for 10,000 years along the wooded river bluffs. These Indians came to be known as Mound builders, for the massive mounds they built that now overlook the Mississippi River by DeSoto Park, named after the explorer Hernando DeSoto. These mounds are worth visiting, in that you're observing a part of a culture and life that has long since been forgotten.
Memphis' four original town squares are a stern reminder of its Southern history, named Exchange, Market, Auction, and Court, because of the West Africans that were captured, exploited, and used as slaves in the early days. The ghosts of the slave trade days still hang heavy over these squares, making it an interesting but maybe slightly depressing place to visit.
General Washburn Alley
In 1864, during the struggles between the North and South, Memphis became a very desirable location for troops and their supplies. Confederate leader Nathan Bedford Forrest led 2,000 cavalry troops to Memphis. Forrest's brothers rode into town early one morning and nearly captured three Union generals, one being General Washburn who fled in his nightshirt up the now General Washburn Alley - named for his narrow escape. Take a stroll down General Washburn Alley, located in downtown Memphis, and picture the happenings of that night in 1864.
A three-day riot in 1866 between townspeople and Confederate troops resulted in the deaths of nearly 50 people, mostly former slaves, hundreds were wounded and multiple schools and businesses were burned. The riot began near Fort Pickering, this property is now the home to the Metals Museum, just south of the Memphis Bridge. History just seeps from the dirt on these battlegrounds.
Memphis' riverside park is known as Tom Lee Park. Tom Lee is known as 'Memphis' Greatest Hero'. In 1952, this man single-handedly rescued 32 people from drowning when a steamer sank. While this is an amazing feat in itself, what makes it more amazing is Tom Lee didn't know how to swim. The Park isn't exactly a historical site, but named after such an amazing man, it would be worth it to just drive by.
The list of Memphis' historical sites is a mile long, most have been long forgotten in all the glitz and glamour of the city, today. If you look hard close enough, and try hard enough, there are hidden historical treasures all over the city of Memphis.