The driving beat of rockabilly music and the rhythm of the rails define Jackson, the largest city between Memphis and Nashville. The story of railroad engineer Casey Jones, fried catfish dinners, cypress tree "knees" and "Blue Suede Shoes" give Jackson a character all its own.
Located on the flat lands of Tennessee's Western Plain and founded in 1821, the city was named for Andrew Jackson. The city is home to Lane College, founded by and for African Americans in 1882 after freed black slaves settled here and worked on the railroad.
Jackson was home to Carl Perkins, dubbed the "king" of rockabilly. Rockabilly is usually defined as country music with a blend of the blues. Perkins wrote "Blue Suede Shoes" and toured with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. A car accident fated Perkins' most famous song to be sung instead by Presley; other Perkins' songs were recorded by the Beatles. Perkins lived in Jackson until his death. The town's International Rock-a-Billy Hall of Fame and Museum, a tribute to Perkins and others in the genre, displays memorabilia and videos of early stars.
Railroad history buffs will enjoy a visit to the restored 1907 Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Depot and Railroad Museum. Or delve into the railroad man and myth at Casey Jones Village. A museum, Jones' home and a life-size locomotive commemorate the engineer who is said to have sacrificed his life for his passengers in a 1900 train wreck.
Nightlife in Jackson includes concerts and festivals at Casey Jones Amphitheatre. Dining options include Suede's, a popular eatery once owned by Carl Perkins with entrees like Whole Lotta Steaking Going On. Perkins was also co-owner of Catfish Cabin, which offers its self-proclaimed "best" hushpuppies in addition to catfish, seafood and steak.
Enjoy a tour of Cypress Grove Nature Park, just outside town, where visitors can walk along a boardwalk to view a forest of cypress "knees", two lakes and raptor enclosures. Nearby man-made Lake Graham offers boating and fishing on its 575 acres.
Jackson is located on Interstate 40 about 90 miles east of Memphis and 130 miles west of Nashville.