Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Famous Rock, Berlin, Tennessee

A  few people were skeptical when I shared my post about all the rocks in Tennessee.  I do believe there were those who thought I was absurd, well, now I am going to brag!  There is a FAMOUS ROCK  close to my neighborhood.  Our FAMOUS ROCK even has a plaque to prove it is famous!  Nobody can argue with a plaque - especially one that looks so official.

It states:
1844 Berlin Rock 1925
Used as a Rostrum by Presidents
James K. Polk
Andrew Johnson
Senators...Congressmen...Governors...Judges...blah, blah, blah.

Impressive, I know.  This is THE FAMOUS ROCK, to the left of the tree.

So what is a "Rostrum"?  I didn't know either so I looked it up.  It is a stage from which to make speeches.  This makes sense because there were no microphones back in the past and we all know how important it was to hear what politicians had to say! (Tax, spend, repeat)

President James K. Polk used this rock to make speeches, a president of whom I approve.  He was the 11th President of the United States, from 1845 to 1849. During his one term, he expanded America's territory by more than one-third.  He did this by securing the Oregon Territory, acquiring California and most of the Southwest by winning the Mexican-American War.  Also, he reduced tariffs and reformed the national banking system.  Any politician that can reduce taxes and put the banksters on a leash, earns my praise.  He died at the age of 53 soon after leaving the White House.  I have read his diary - I think he worked himself to death.

The other president who spoke while standing on this FAMOUS ROCK was Andrew Johnson, 17th President.  He was chosen to be Vice President by Abraham Lincoln, then assumed the presidency upon his assassination.

The FAMOUS ROCK is sitting beside a fresh spring which flows from a cave in a large rock.


Water flowing away from the spring.
 It is possible to walk back inside further but I was not curious enough to get my feet wet.

Scooter, on the other hand, has no qualms about getting his feet wet or dirty.  Nor does he mind drinking from a fresh spring, mud puddle, nasty trash can lid, or anything else.  He has no standards.

Cold and delicious! Yum!
To the right of the spring is a man-made staircase leading up the rocks.  It is rumored, you can drop an apple through the crevices on top and they will float out below into the stream.  I am too lazy to climb the stairs and too cheap to waste the apples, so this is one rumor I can't substantiate.

Stone steps leading up to the top of the rock above the spring.
The FAMOUS ROCK is located in the small community of Berlin, Tennessee.  "Berlin" is not pronounced like Berlin, Germany.  I was corrected quickly by local residents.  It sounds like Bur (rhymes with animal FUR) and then Lun (rhymes with bread bun).  BUR-LUN with the emphasis on the BUR...then you drawl out the rrrrr, and then also drawl out LUN.  It is to be pronounced slowly, Southern style.

I thought I had met a grumpy grammarian the first time I was corrected; but, when I mispronounced it the second time, I was again corrected.  I learned quickly...BUUUUURRRRRR...LUUUUNNN.

There are many other interesting things to see in the small park such as...more rocks!

Trees with weird roots caused by trying to grow around the rocks.

I think this one looks like a petrified tyrannosaurus rex foot.

Trees attempting to grow between rocks.

There is also a small cave beside the spring.  To the untrained eye, this might appear to be nothing, but to a skilled hunter (Bill), he saw a worn path leading into the opening.  Something lived inside.

After he pointed out the path, I decided to inspect further.  The area was indeed well worn in front of the cave.  I squatted down, and slowly, quietly inched closer.  I did not want to wake whatever was inside.  What could possibly live there?  A spider? raccoon? skunk? BEAR???  As I was contemplating these thoughts, I decided I was too lazy to crawl inside plus too cheap to waste my money on an outrageously expensive insurance copay for an emergency room visit.  The mystery will remain.

Because it was dark inside the cave, the automatic flash on my camera went off unexpectedly and I suddenly feared I had awakened the grizzly bear hibernating inside.  

I flew back to the safety of Bill and Scooter.  Surely they would save me from being eaten alive.  Scooter immediately began searching for a way to escape from the rampaging grizzly bear.

Jeannie (Me) on the left and Scooter on the right.
Beside the park sits the Berlin grocery store that has served as the center of the community for decades.  If you ever decide to plan a vacation to see the FAMOUS ROCK, be sure to pronounce "Berlin" correctly when you enter the store in search of souvenirs.

Originally the Berlin springs were used as a water source by Native American Indians.  Later, North Carolina Land Grants (1782) were given to the veterans of the American Revolutionary War (1775- 1778) and they became the early settlers.  James Watts received a 1,200-acre grant which includes the current Berlin area.  Another veteran, Frederick Fisher, also received a grant in the area.  He was a severely wounded Revolutionary War soldier, who was issued a "meager $3.33 pension" and due to bureaucratic red tape "found it necessary to enlist the help of James K. Polk to" receive his pension payments.  These men were some of the early settlers who tamed the land and some of their descendants remain in the area today.

So, in conclusion,  the government took the land it did not own from the Indians (taxation) to give it to the soldiers instead of the promised cash, to pay them for their services in a war that did not benefit those paying the taxes (Indians).  Then the government (Veterans Administration) would not give the assistance they had promised to the soldiers until the president (Polk/Trump) intervened.  Today's descendants seem to have the same problems.

It appears the more things change, the more they stay the same.

View from the road toward the spring.
UPDATE:  The Berlin Store was featured in the Marshall County Tribune when someone wrote a poem about the store.  Poetry is not my thing, but I am posting a link since there might possibly be someone with culture reading my blog. Wait!  I just insulted all my readers!  Of course, everyone who reads my blog is highly cultured!  This is such a sophisticated blog.  Sniff.  Sniff.

Additional links:

Marshall County Tribune, The Berlin

Rocks in Tennessee

Rocks in My Neighborhood


  1. It is lovely there. And, your rock looks like a very nice rock:)
    Seriously, I love looking at scenery from other areas. I've never been to Tennessee. It is lovely. It looks like you had a wonderful day with very nice weather.

    1. I was afraid people would be offended by me bragging so much about my FAMOUS ROCK!

      It was wonderful weather and now we have snow predicted for the weekend! Winter is not finished.

  2. Bonjour Jeannie

    Brag as much as you want. I'm learning so much from your posts.

    You had me howling with laughter when I read the caption under the pic of you and Scooter.

    Have a sunshiny day!!!


    1. Since I need a haircut and he has been scalped, I did not want anyone getting us confused.

      I am glad to know someone really reads my posts. The boys only look at the pictures.

  3. Hi Jeannie,
    Loved the tour. Our landscape and history are very similar. Scooter looked particularly handsome with his fur growing back in and you can tell him I said so. It was 60 degrees here yesterday, the winds came in last night and the snow began about 2 a.m. More expected and maybe "the big one" next week. No winter is not finished. Dorothy

    1. Dorothy, the winds hit here last night also; except, we also received hail, lost a tree in the back yard and found part of the house siding on the back deck. Our snow is on the way. Winter can go away in my opinion.

      I will tell Scooter you are flirting again, shameless hussy.

  4. This landscape is really fascinating. Must be wonderful in summer too. As you wear short sleeves on that picture, I assume that the weather was quite mild. There are surely many excursion destinations near to your living place. So you can make more plans for further excursions. Here we have a temperature of 14 degrees C (about 57 degrees F). And beautiful sunshine. Time for gardening.

    1. Christel, the summers here are HORRID! Hot, humid and just awful. You will get to hear me whine all summer long. It was so warm when we took the pictures but it should have been cold. There will be no gardening here now. I went out today and put the hoop houses back up. I knew better than to trust the weather.

      I do have many more excursions planned to all the other exciting rocks around where I live.

  5. Very interesting!
    Have a wonderful day!