by Tracy C. Brown
Many of you will recall that the early 19th century Wynnewood Stagecoach Inn in Castalian Springs, Tennessee, was badly damaged and very nearly destroyed by a tornado in 2008. Wynnewood is the largest early 1800s log structure in Tennessee, and it is also a National Historic Landmark. This means its historical significance ranks right up there with the likes of Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington.
Restoration of the log structure and other aspects of the site have been underway for nearly four years. Work on the main inn building has been essentially completed, but some more work still needs to be done in other areas of the site. For example, it is my understanding that continued restoration of the site will include historically appropriate landscape restoration in the areas surrounding the inn. The majestic old trees that once surrounded it were ripped out of the ground by the F3 tornado, making the lawn look like a war zone for several years. The lawn has been cleaned up, but restoration of the once beautiful grounds environment is a must do item for the future.
Wynnewood was reopened to the general public for about 4 hours on July 4, 2012. However, I am not sure as to whether this was a special reopening to celebrate the holiday or whether it was a permanent reopening. Unfortunately, the announcement article by Dessislava Yankova in the Gallatin Examiner newspaper did not specify this.
The new Site Director is Mr. Rick Hendrix, and he can be reached at (615) 452-5463. Before visiting, give him a call to make sure they will be open. In past years before the tornado, they were not open on Mondays and Tuesdays, and they were not open between November and April of each year.
For the archaeologically and historically inclined person, Wynnewood would be the centerpiece of a great 3-day weekend getaway trip. Based on my own personal experience, I would recommend that you book lodging at the Hampton Inn in Gallatin, Tennessee. The rooms are very nice, it is very well maintained, and the staff is friendly and helpful. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and other famous eateries are located a very short distance up the street, and you can walk to dinner on a real sidewalk.
While you are in the Gallatin-Castalian Springs area, I would also suggest visiting the site of Bledsoe’s Fort, where Middle Tennessee State University conducted archaeological excavations to delineate its walls/structures and investigate daily life at the fort. You may also stroll down a short distance from the fort and take a quick look at the gated entrance to the Cave of the Skulls, a possible prehistoric ritual cave that may have been culturally associated with the large Mississippian mound site in Castalian Springs.
The mound site is not open to visitors, but you may visit three really wonderful early 19th century homes in the area (Cragfont, Trousdale Place, and Rosemont). You may also tour the Sumner County Museum, which is located on the grounds of the Trousdale Place. If you are still up for some adventure, you may walk a few blocks down from the Trousdale Place to the old Gallatin Cemetery, which has a very rare monument to American soldiers who fought in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Numerous young soldiers from Sumner County fought in this war. If you read the many inscriptions on the monument, you will see a sad pattern that goes something like this:
Fought in the Battle of Monterrey. Returned home to Sumner County. Died from malaria [contracted while in Mexico].
Clearly, malaria and yellow fever were just about as deadly as the cannons in that war—but with a delayed fuse.