Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Walk along Rock Creek - Visiting Milky Way Farms

Monday (Jul 6):

This was the first day in a long time that there was only a small chance of rain in the forecast and we were able to get outside during the day. Connie and I did 20 minutes of yoga this morning and we will try to keep this routine in the future. I have to modify some of the poses since the roof of the motor home in only 7 feet tall and Connie has to modify a few because of her back. Connie was able to touch her toes, do COBRA and CAMEL this morning with only slight discomfort in her back.

We went over to Lewisburg to mail some packages at the USPS and then to do the Rock Creek Walking Trail. The trail is located along the creek that runs through Lewisburg.

The trail has a concrete path and is about 5.4 miles if you walk from the start to the end and then back again. Connie and I did most of the trail and walked for about one hour.

After finishing our walk we stopped and got something to drink and some trail mix to snack on. Connie tried a soft drink called Sun Drop which is a citric flavored drink that we found out has lots of caffeine in it. Then it was on to the Milky Way Farms.

Fred Mars who was the founder and owner of the Mars Candy Company that makes the Milky Way Bar is the individual who started Milky Way Farms. The story goes that he and his wife were on a train from Chicago to Florida to look at some property to start a thoroughbred horse farm when they met a couple from Tennessee. The couple from Tennessee convinced the Mars' to stop in Giles County Tennessee to look at the land located there for their horse farm. They fell in love with the place and decided to build their thoroughbred horse farm here in Tennessee. They purchased about 2,800 acres of land on which they built a manor house, a race track, horse barns, storage barns and other buildings needed for the farm. The land was purchased from local farmers who were then employed by the Mars' on the Milky Way Farm. This all took place from the late 1920's to the early 1930's during the first years of the Great Depression. At one point in time there were about 900 people employed by the Mars' on the farm. The Manor House was finished in 1932 and Fred Mars died in 1934 at the age of 51. His widow lived in the house until 1945 when she sold the property to another individual. The property sold several times over the years until it was purchased by a couple from Brentwood Tennessee who opened the house up for tours and events in 2010.

The house has 25,000 square feet in it with 20 bedrooms, 14 full baths and 2 half baths. Below are pictures of the two master bedrooms, one for Mrs. Mars and one for Mr. Mars, which is how everyone who had enough money lived in those days.

Mrs. Mars bath

Connie sitting on Mrs. Mars bed

Fireplace in Mr. Mars bedroom with hidden closet on the right.

Mr. Mars bedroom

Sitting room in Mr. Mars bedroom
The house has a great room with a large fireplace as you come in the front door and then a large dining room with the largest table in a private residence in Tennessee.

These gates came from the first house the Mars's built on the property.
That house burned before this one was finished.

The Great Room with a ceiling located 40 feet above the floor.

The dining room table. We forgot to count how many chairs are around the table.
Can you find Connie at the far end of the table?
The house is open for tours when they are not having events. We were the only ones at the house when we toured it and the caretaker told us to take our time and wander through the house. At one end of the house, outside the master bedrooms, is a porch with a picture window overlooking the property.

We wandered through the house for about one hour. One side of the house was for the family and the other side of the house was for guests. Although very little of the original furniture remains in the house, the couple who own it now have obtained period furniture to show how it would have been decorated during the time the Mars' lived in the house. Mrs. Mars did raise the winner of the 1940 Kentucky Derby on this farm so there was some success in the thoroughbred horse racing operation. 

By then we were hungry and decided to visit Pop's BBQ restaurant which is located at the I-65 exit just south of our campground. The restaurant is located inside a truck stop and the couple of times we had gone past the place the parking lot was full. Connie had ribs and I had pulled pork both of which were very good. 

Back at the campground we had a nice visit with the couple in the Entegra Conerstone motor home parked next to us. They are from Beaumont Texas and are on a two week trip to Tennessee and back to Texas.