Sun Studio probably produced more hits in the early years of rock and roll than any other place. This is where 18-year old Elvis was asked who he sounded like. He responded: “I don’t sound like nobody.” This is where Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash all recorded. Sun Studio was first called “Memphis Recording Service” by Sam Phillips, who started it in 1950. In that era, the studio was one of the few places in the South where black and white artists openly recorded at the same time. The studio is a remarkably small place, just two rooms, an office right off the street, and then the studio itself. An old reel-to-reel tape player plays excerpts from various tracks that were recorded at the studio. Sam Phillips closed Sun Studio in 1960, but the studio is still a Mecca for musicians, where artists such as Ringo Starr and group U-2 come by to record. There is also a cafe on the corner that serves as a memorabilia shop, with seven exhibit cases upstairs with displays on the history of rock and roll.
I first read the story of the Battle of Blue Licks as a kid growing up in nearby southern Ohio. It struck me then, and it strikes me now, as one of the sadder stories of its kind from the frontier period. The salt springs at the site had attracted animals for millennia and formed a center of Indian life. Early settler frequented the place to obtain badly needed salt supplies. Indians captured Daniel Boone here while he was making salt for his settlement. (He later made a daring and famous escape.) But the sad part of the story came in 1782. Blue Licks is most renowned as the site of the last battle of the Revolutionary War in Kentucky. In 1782, Kentucky militia pursued a raiding party of Indians and British soldiers to the vicinity of Blue Licks. Ignoring the warnings of Daniel Boone and others, the militia commander ordered an attack right into a perfect ambush spot. The merits of the location had not escaped the Indians and British, and the Kentuckians suffered great losses, including Boone’s son, Israel. During the nineteenth century, the mineral springs made Blue Licks a popular health resort. Today the park has recreational facilities, a lodge, nature trails, and a museum of frontier and Native American life.
Fort Fetterman was established in 1867 as a defensive post by the U.S. military. It was one of four forts established along the Bozeman Trail to protect the westward-bound travelers. The other three, Forts Reno, Kearny and Smith, were deactivated in 1868, leaving Fort Fetterman as the lone bastion along the trail. Named in memory of Captain Willliam J. Fetterman, killed in a battle with Indians near Fort Kearny in 1866, the fort was in service for 15 years before deactivation. Fort Fetterman’s significance peaked during the middle 1870s when it served as the base of operations for several military campaigns against the Indians. When hostilities in the region ceased, the fort’s importance declined, and it was abandoned in 1882. Today the fort is a state historic site open to the public. Two of the restored, original buildings, an officer’s quarters and an ordnance warehouse, house exhibits highlighting the fort’s history and that of the region. Visitors are encouraged to walk the interpretive trail through the site. Historic guided tours are available upon request, and the park hosts the annual Fort Fetterman Days, a living history event.