Immerse Yourself in Clarksville’s Culture & Heritage (2024)

Founded in 1794, two years before Tennessee became the nation’s 16th state, Clarksville, Tennesseeis a city filled with authentic experiences, sites and inspiring people that unlock a rich history and culture. By venturing off the beaten path, visitors will absorb the culture and relish the experiences that make this city a unique and memorable place.

TOURS

DUNBAR CAVE STATE PARK

Dunbar Cave State Park offers a multifaceted cultural experience that highlights the park’s rich music history, cave art from the indigenous people who inhabited the area during the 14th Century, and Affricanna Town, a place of refuge for self-liberated enslaved African Americans following the Union Army’s capture of Clarksville in 1862.

Guided cave tours are offered from May to September, allowing visitors to view the infamous dark zone cave art for themselves. The park is open year-round for hiking, bird watching, picnics, and viewings of historic markers throughout the property.

FORT DEFIANCE

Located atop a 200’ bluff at the confluence of the Cumberland and Red Rivers, Fort Defiance is one of the few intact earthen works forts left in the United States giving visitors a chance to step back in time and gain an understanding of the region's role in one of the most pivotal chapters in American history.

The Interpretive Center houses artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays, providing an immersive journey through the Civil War era. One notable audio display allows visitors the chance to hear the stories of those affected by the War Between the States including troops from both armies, an enslaved person, a local business owner, and more.

Just outside the interpretive center, visitors will find a United States Colored Troops Monument. This statue honors the USCT, who were men of African descent, many of them formerly enslaved, who enlisted in the Union Army to fight for their freedom.

HISTORIC CEMETERY TOURS

Search for family names at Clarksville's historic cemeteries. Established on February 23, 1800, Riverview Cemetery is the oldest known public burial ground in the area. It is rich in history and has the remains of many early pioneers, settlers, civic leaders, and statesmen, as well as men and women of all the American wars. Greenwood Cemetery was founded in 1872. The cemetery is the final resting place of many of Clarksville's most notable citizens including Tennessee Governor Austin Peay, the founder of Austin Peay State University, and Frank Sutton who played Sgt. Carter on the sitcom Gomer Pyle, USMC. Guided tours of both cemeteries are offered during the fall months.

HISTORIC COLLINSVILLE

Step back in time at Historic Collinsville. The Pioneer Settlement provides an authentic glimpse into the daily lives of those living in the area throughout the 1800s, while the Weakley House Museum, opening in April 2024, takes visitors into the personal home and collections of Collinsville founders, Glen and JoAnn Weakley.

Visitors can explore 16 restored log homes and outbuildings brimming with period-accurate furnishings and artifacts, as well as participate in activities like making butter. The immersive experience extends to monthly special events with lively demonstrations, hands-on activities, and costumed interpreters who bring history to life through storytelling and interactive exhibits.

Historic Collinsville is open Thursday – Sunday, April – October.

HISTORIC DOWNTOWN WALKING TOURS

Embark on a self-guided walking tour of downtown and enjoy historic architecture from the mid-1800s. Dozens of structures are on the National Register of Historic Places, including the First Presbyterian Church and Trinity Episcopal Church. As you explore, keep an eye out for Clarksville Then & Now Trail panels that tell the stories of our historic buildings. See photos of what used to be, read about former businesses, and scan a QR code to learn more about each building.

PORT ROYAL STATE HISTORIC PARK

Nestled on the Montgomery County border, this historic park not only showcases the vibrant history of a 19th-century trading town but is also an important point of reflection on the tragic events of the Trail of Tears. Visitors can explore the well-preserved structure that tells the story of Port Royal's past, offering insights into early commerce and daily life, before walking the same path taken by over 10,000 Cherokee on their last night in Tennessee. Guided Townsite Tours are offered Friday-Sunday. The park is open for hiking and picnics daily.

MUSEUMS & TRAILS

AFRICAN AMERICAN LEGACY TRAIL

Discover the expansive and unique history of Clarksville’s African-American community with the African-American Legacy Trail. From community gardens and historic churches to athletic, musical, and business trailblazers -- even an inspiring Olympic Champion -- this trail has many stories to tell.

AS THE RIVER FLOWS MUSEUM AT MCGREGOR PARK

Learn about the history of the Cumberland River and its significance to Clarksville's development through McGregor Park's As the River Flows Museum. The museum's panels begin with pre-settlement times and the habitation of indigenous people, continuing through to the modern day.

CUSTOMS HOUSE MUSEUM AND CULTURAL CENTER

Built in 1898 as a US Post Office and Customs House for the flourishing tobacco trade, this architecturally fascinating structure is now the state's second-largest general history museum featuring several exhibits detailing Clarksville's rich history. "Becoming Clarksville: Honoring Legacies of Leadership" uses interactive software, engaging videos, and local artifacts to showcase Clarksville’s history and the individuals who impacted the community.

Explorer's Landing features a hands-on educational exhibit for children, Exploring Our Town. This interactive exhibit highlights the different elements that impacted the establishment and growth of Clarksville, from farming, construction, and transportation to area wildlife and the Cumberland and Red Rivers. Be sure to download the Exploring Our Town Self-Guided Walking Tour for little ones to explore interesting and historic buildings around town.

WADE BOURNE NATURE CENTER AT ROTARY PARK

Learn about natural history with hands-on activities and live animals native to the area including a 500-gallon aquarium with native fish species. Wade Bourne Nature Center's exhibits are not limited to the inside of the building. Outside, visitors will find pollinator, butterfly, and rain gardens. The center hosts weekly programs that teach younger audiences about the natural world.

The center is a tribute to Clarksville native Wade Bourne, one of the most recognized and respected journalists in the field of hunting, fishing, and resource conservation.

Arts

DOWNTOWN ARTISTS CO-OP

Bring home a piece of local art from The Downtown Artists Co-op. This association includes over 30 talented local artists. Visitors to the gallery will find pottery, jewelry, paintings, drawings, and more available for purchase.

The DAC hosts the First Thursday ArtWalk each month from 5:00 - 8:00 PM. This event not only showcases local art but allows attendees to meet the artists behind each piece at 20 locations. The First Thursday Art Walk displays pieces throughout downtown shops, galleries, and restaurants.

ARTSVILLE FEST

Take part in Clarksville's annual downtown creative arts festival during the first week of October. Artsville Fest includes visual and performing arts, live large-scale art exhibits, intimate interactions with artists and makers, and much more.

ARTLINK

Create something special during your time in Clarksville with this free creative arts program. ArtLink's mission is to ignite passion and build character through creativity.

WILMA RUDOLPH & PAT HEAD SUMMITT

The legacies of these two hometown heroes, trailblazers and champions continue to inspire people from around the world. A three-time gold and one-time bronze Olympic medalist who overcame polio as a child, Wilma Rudolph stands in bronze in Clarksville’s Liberty Park outside the entrance to her namesake building, the Wilma Rudolph Event Center. The stories of her athletic and social achievements are exhibited at the Customs House Museum.

Gold and Silver Olympic Gold Medalist Pat Head Summitt had, at the time of her retirement in 2012, coached more winning NCAA games than any other men’s or women’s basketball coach. The Pat Head Summitt Memorial Statue and Legacy Park illustrate her story at the north end of Liberty Park.

LIVE MUSICAL PERFORMANCES

Clarksville is fortunate to have many musical groups involved in the performing arts including the Gateway Chamber Orchestra, the Cumberland Winds, and Austin Peay State University’s Department of Music.

ROXY REGIONAL THEATRE PERFORMANCE

Experience the cornerstone of Clarksville's entertainment by attending a live performance at the Roxy Regional Theatre. The present Roxy Theatre opened its doors in 1947, showing movies until 1980 and opening for live theatre in 1980. The Roxy produces 10 main stage events annually along with several special events throughout the year.

TENNESSEE MUSIC PATHWAYS

Gain a deeper understanding of the people, places, and genres that make Tennessee the 'Soundtrack of America' through the Tennessee Music Pathways. A statewide driving tour, the Pathways represents hundreds of landmarks across the state and spans seven genres of music: blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly, and rock 'n' roll. Clarksville is home to five official Pathways locations.

BONUS

COMPLETE VISIT CLARKSVILLE'S CHALLENGE TRAILS

Explore Clarksville with the Visit Clarksville App Challenge Trails. Complete any, or all, of the 18 “trails” by checking in at designated locations and earn collectible pins. Trails include Architectural Gems, Artsy Shopping, Civil War Trail, Heritage Trail, Music Heritage, and more.

Immerse Yourself in Clarksville’s Culture & Heritage (2024)

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