Frozen in time

So last night we drove a few hours to Lynchburg from Nashville. With some difficulty, we were able to find a RV park to stay for the night. The temperature was supposed to get pretty chilly overnight so we were hoping for some power to be able to run a heater if we needed to. When we arrived, it was a little late and the office was closed and locked. Now, common sense dictates that you just park in plain sight and go pay early in the morning. The place had 3 other older trailers with a huge open field. Imagine our surprise when we woke up early to find an invoice on our windshield for more $ than stated on the website. They wanted to charge us more because we parked in a site reserved for the bigger vehicles. Umm… really? I’m happy to pay more if we used all the amenities of those larger RV’s like fresh water, electricity, waste disposal ect. but honestly how do you expect us to park in the appropriate space without any signage? Its not like we were taking up the last available space either, the park was practically empty.

Not only was it empty, but it was eerily deserted. The unheated bathrooms had lukewarm hot water, which made for an extremely unpleasant shower on a freezing morning. I also got the feeling someone was watching me – horror movie style, which is not a great way to start your day. When we headed down to the office again in hopes of talking to someone we discovered that the office was still closed; a quick peek into the window reviealed that it has not been used in a while.  Inside you could see a front desk set up just like a hotel with 3 computers lined up and ready for masses of people to check in. This would be fine if there wasn’t junk piled everywhere and dust on everything. The yard in front was not much different. Old tractors, rusted out cars, some furniture and other scrap metal were scattered around. It was almost like the owners just abandoned it one day. The whole place just gave us bad vibes.

Instructions for payment were to put money in the mailbox on the office door.. Mysterious indeed. Someone was definately out there picking up the money, but where they came from to leave invoices on windshields in the early morning and collect cash, who knows. We paid and hauled tail out of there as soon as we possibly could!

Five minutes away was the Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Distillery. We arrived 20 minutes before they had even opened and I started to doubt if I even wanted to stay for the tour.  The horror-movie vibes of the RV place had really creeped me out, and this small town (Lynchburg) is also somewhat stuck in the past with the olde tyme stores in the centre of town. The type of place you wouldn’t think twice about driving through, but a really good setting for the start of a slasher film. Knowing this is completely irrational, my mind got the better of me and I had a huge urge to just keep driving. Mr. logic and reasoning, Andrew, helped convince me we should at least check it out. Which is what we did and I’m happy we stayed. Not only was the tour free, it was really interesting and entertaining. For the first time today I was glad we got a chance to see a little place frozen in time – where they still make Whiskey just like they did in 1866.

In the rickyard, they make their own charcoal from local sugar maple trees in the Tennessee Hills. This charcoal is used to slowly remove the impurities from the Whisky by slowly dripping it through 10 feet of charcoal over about 5 days.

Jack Daniel founded the distillery on it’s current location because of the iron-free cave spring water that flows all year at the same 57+/- degree temperature. Over all these years it has never run dry and every effort to trace the source of this spring water has never been fully successful.

Mr. Daniel himself guarding his cave. Although when this statue was commissioned to be made it was supposed to be life size. Unfortunately they made him almost half a foot too tall as he was short fellow at 5 foot 2”.

Of course, the world’s supply of JD must be well protected. As you can imagine, the amount of 118 proof whiskey in the several full barrel houses around the property, warrants the two working fire engines on site, as well as an extremely well equipped town fire department.

A couple things we found most interesting:

All the Jack Daniel Whiskey in the world is produced right in Lynchburg, TN. Ironically, the county where JD is produced is what’s known as a ‘dry county’ which means they’re prohibited them from selling hard liquor, including Jack Daniel’s Whiskey.

Everything they need to make their Whiskey (i.e. barrels, charcoal) is handmade on site, and those things they can’t make (i.e. grains) are sourced as locally as possible within the USA. Similarly, anything they’ve used in the process (i.e. grain solids or used barrels) are sold to farmers and wine makers leaving them with little to no waste.

The folks at JD are nice enough to have the whole virtual tour available on their site – if you can’t get out to Tennessee, it’s the next best thing.

View Larger Map

A: Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee
B: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Today’s track: 150 kms | 100 miles

Tomorrow’s plan: Ruby Falls in Chatanooga, TN