I’m goin’ to Jackson, I’m gonna mess around.
Yeah, I’m goin’ to Jackson, look out Jackson town.
“Jackson” (1967): Written by Billy Edd Wheeler and Jerry Leiber; Recorded by Johnny Cash and June Carter.
Album: Johnny Cash’s Greatest Hits Volume 1. Columbia Records.
Jackson, Tennessee is one of those places that does not get the press of its sister cities, Memphis or Nashville. However, if you are driving on I-40 from Memphis to Nashville, take a stop in this overlooked city of The Volunteer State.
Here are some of the places to see in Jackson.
Casey Jones Museum
Come all you rounders, if you want to hear
the story told of a brave engineer…
The switchmen knew the engine’s moan
The man at the throttle was Casey Jones.
(“The Ballad of Casey Jones”; Wallace Saunders, 1900.)
Jackson is home to the Casey Jones Museum. Not to be confused with the hockey mask-wearing vigilante from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, John “Casey” Jones was a train engineer that died while trying to stop a train to save the passengers. I have to admit, up until we saw the museum, I kind of thought he was a tall tale, like Paul Bunyan. Plus, thanks to the Grateful Dead, I may or may not have believed that he a speed demon that was high on cocaine. However, in reality, the engineer of “Old 382” was quite the hero. Do some homework on him. There will be a test later.
Address: 30 Casey Jones Lane, Jackson, TN
Times: 9-5 (Mon-Sat); Noon-5 (Sun)
Cost: $6.50 (ages 13+) $4.50 (6-12) Five and under=FREE
Jackson is also home to the “Rockabilly King” Carl Perkins. Carl is most famous for his song “Blue Suede Shoes”. Personally, I have always felt that he was the most underrated artist to come out of Sun Records. (And this coming from an Elvis fan.) He was a member of the famous Million Dollar Quartet, which also included Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. There are plenty of places named for the man around town, and if you are one of those that search for famous people’s graves, you can find Carl’s in the mausoleum at the Ridgecrest Cemetery. (200 Ridgecrest Rd, Jackson, TN)
And since we’re on the topic of rockabilly music, Jackson is home of the International Rock-a-Billy Hall of Fame and Museum. Run by Henry Harrison, this museum covers artists like the aforementioned Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich, Peggy Lee, Carl Mann and Elvis Presley. You can even play the drums of Elvis’ drummer, DJ Fontana. If you like the history of rock and roll, this is a place you need to go.
Address: 105 North Church Street, Jackson, TN
Times: 10-5 (Mon-Thurs); 10-2 (Fri & Sat)
Rusty’s Car Museum
As if that was not enough for one city, there is also Rusty’s TV and Movie Car Museum.
Imagine seeing a lot of your childhood dream cars all in the same room: Adam West’s Batbike; the ‘89 Michael Keaton Batmobile; a Delorean – with flux capacitor – from Back to the Future; other cars from Starsky & Hutch, Ghostbusters, Wayne’s World, Blues Brothers and The Fast and the Furious. (They even have Will Farrell’s underwear from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.) Some of the cars are originals used in the movies or tv shows, while others are well-made replicas made by Rusty and his crew. (The Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo or Lightning McQueen from Cars being two examples of the latter.)
The place is relatively small and it will only take about an hour out of your day (depending on the amount of photos you take). I was told by Rusty’s cousin, Danny, that there are hundreds of other cars in storage and they switch out occasionally, plus they are always adding new ones.
Address: 323 Hollywood Drive, Jackson, TN
Times: 9-5 (Fri-Sun) By appointment only Mon-Thurs
Other Things to See
We didn’t get a chance to see everything we wanted to, but here are a few other things to check out near Jackson if you have the time:
Salem Cemetery Battlefield (160 Cotton Grove Road)
Tennessee Safari Park (618 Conley Road, Alamo, TN)
Pinson Mounds (460 Ozier Rd, Pinson, TN)