Whether a super fan or a road warrior, if you’re visiting Eastern Tennessee, you must take a historical journey along the lifeline of the most famous resident: Dolly Parton.
Dolly Parton still considers Tennessee home. She has remained true to her roots in her song lyrics, philanthropy, and overall personality. So put on your rhinestone heels and fluff your wig: It’s time to take a walk with Dolly…
Start in the Great Smoky Mountains, where Dolly was born in Sevierville in 1946. She lived in a one-room cabin in nearby Locust Ridge, Tennessee. At nearby Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, you can see replica of the cabin the Parton family of fourteen shared. No wonder Dolly needed that Coat of Many Colors!
Sevierville proudly considers Dolly their hometown girl. Many places she frequented still stand, including her alma mater, Sevier County High School. Naturally, Dolly played in the band. But even before she hit the teenage years, she was singing and entertaining at Knoxville’s WIVK Radio and WBIR-TV. She also made appearances as Cas Walker’s Gas Station in downtown Knoxville.
While touring Dolly’s hometown, make sure not to miss the life-sized bronze Dolly statue on the Sevier County Courthouse lawn. The statue depicts a young, barefoot Dolly strumming her guitar.
However, right after graduation, Dolly moved to Nashville to pursue her dreams. So, hop in the car and go for a road trip. Alternatively, check out the Chasing Rainbows museum at Dollywood to learn her Nashville stories! On her first day in Nashville, Dolly met her future husband, Carl Dean, at a Wishy-Washy Laundromat. His first words to her were, ‘Y’all gonna get sunburnt out there, little lady.” The pick-up line must have worked because the two married on May 30, 1966. They remain together to this day.
Stay in Nashville to see the former home of The Opry, the Ryman Auditorium. The Ryman is nicknamed, “the Mother Church of Country Music.” It’s located on 16th and 17th Avenues South not far from downtown. The building used to house recording studios and record labels. Here, the Nashville Sound was crafted and Dolly Parton, Elvis, and other performers recorded their first chart-topping hits.
In 1986, Dolly wanted to payback her hometown and joined forces to open Dollywood in Pigeon Forge. Part amusement park, part museum, part live entertainment. Dollywood truly lives up to its namesake. Any walk in Dolly’s shoes would be incomplete without a day spent riding roller coasters, eating fried food, and enjoying Southern culture the way Dolly does.
Taking a pilgrimage to some of these places in Tennessee are must-sees for any fan. You’ll only love her more.