Knoxville // World’s Fair Park + National Cemetery + Old Gray Cemetery

Knoxville greeted us with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. Excited to explore a new place, we quickly set up camp and headed into the city.

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(We set up camp at the Volunteer Family Campground. Nice place!)

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Our first stop was the World’s Fair Park in downtown Knoxville. The park is a beautiful long stretch full of beautiful things: large water features, green grass, blooming native flowers, ornate structures, an outdoor amphitheater, and the Knoxville icon, the Sunsphere.

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(This little boy was too cute enthusiastically running through the fountains and then rolling around in the grass. Sorry mama for the tush shot!)

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(Did I mention Knoxville was HOT? Just one little dip won’t hurt. Even if the signs say not to.)

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(A cancer memorial lined the inner tunnel to the amphitheater. Each individual tile, uniquely painted.)

Charlie was out of gas by the time we covered almost the entire park. He hitched a ride back to the car with daddy.

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Our next destination was in “Old City,” Knoxville. Many of the brick buildings still bear the old painted logos and signs, although not many of the businesses have survived. More buildings are sitting empty than those that are thriving. This is also the section of the city where the homeless roam the streets. It was about 5:00 pm and each sidewalk and street corner was lined with people waiting for the soup kitchen to open, I suppose. My heart and prayers went out to them.

We were looking for the Old Gray Cemetery, but ending up passing it. (I can’t tell you how many U-turns we had to manage during this trip.) We were just about to turn around, again, in the next cemetery over, until I realized what we had come upon and decided to stay for a moment. It was a breathtaking sea of white headstones. We were at the Knoxville National Cemetery.

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The Old Gray Cemetery was morbidly beautiful from the first glance through the wrought iron gate. It was full of no-expense-spared headstones and tombs of some of Knoxville’s most influential citizens, ranging from politicians and soldiers, to artists and activists. Some were large monuments, others adorned with sculptures. Rarely did you spot a regular old headstone like grandma’s, and when you did, it looked out of place. It was a beautiful place to stroll, aside from the fact that you are strolling through a cemetery.

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After an entire afternoon exploring Knoxville on foot, we headed back to base camp and rested up for another sunny Knoxville day.

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(This tired little girl didn’t even make it out of downtown.)

(This post was originally published on our sticks or stones blog, which is no longer in publication.)

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