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Little Known Memphis Facts

By Brian Kline | June 18, 2017

Memphis has many well-known attractions that include Graceland, Sun Studio, and the National Civil Right Museum. However, there's much more to explore that lurks just beneath the surface. There are treasures located all over this fair city.

Memphis Sights Seen by Few Others

If you’ve never seen the Mississippi River, it’s a must see when you visit Memphis. You can be the typical tourist that views it from the top of a luxury hotel such as the Peabody or Madison, or get close to the water’s edge at Beale Street Landing where Memphis meets the river. Better yet, take a walk out over the river itself. Two interstate bridges lead from Memphis over the Mississippi River into Arkansas. The older of the two is fittingly named the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge but known to locals simply as the Old Bridge. This old bridge has a walkway on either side that keeps you safely away from vehicle traffic. Take the walk to stop and admire the amazing views of the winding, muddy river. Even less known (and possibly illegal) is a small metal plate about halfway down the bridge. The courageous can pull up the plate to find a short ladder leading down to a terrace on one of the bridge supports. Here, you’ll find a dazzling river view enjoyed by few others.

Check out the Memorial Park Cemetery in East Memphis. This isn't the kind of place where you'd expect to find folk-art treasures. It’s a rugged, man made, hillside cave filled with five tons of quartz crystal and a myriad of sculptures depicting religious scenes. Started in 1938 by Mexican artist Dionicio Rodriguez, it has been added to by sculptors David Day and Luther Hampton. It's a maintained, still used cemetery featuring modest grave markers rather than some past century cemetery with massive and unique monuments. But that's probably what makes Crystal Shrine Grotto all the more special. The Grotto was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

Other Hidden Memphis Treasures

Before 1916, American’s didn’t do their own shopping. Until then, a customer handed a list to the clerk who would gather and package the merchandise. The first Piggly Wiggly opened in Memphis to introduce America to the nation’s first self-service grocery store. Piggly Wiggly became the standard for the modern grocery store design. Visit the Pink Palace Museum to see a replica of the first self-service grocery store in the country.

The Chucalissa Archaeological Museum is an archaeological project of the University of Memphis. The museum is located at the site of a Native American village, which was founded in about 900 A.D. and abandoned in the early 17th century.

The Memphis Motorsports Park annually hosts NASCAR's Busch and Craftsman Truck Series, as well as other racing events.

And a few little known facts about Memphis:

  • Memphis is the only five-time winner of the nation's cleanest city award.
  • The Memphis Musicians Union, founded in 1873, is the oldest musicians' union in the country.
  • After retiring from showbiz, the original MGM lion was moved to the Memphis Zoo, where he passed away in 1944.
  • Graceland’s name has nothing to do with Elvis. Originally, the property belonged to S.E. Toof, a newspaper publisher who named it after his daughter, Grace. Presley bought the place in 1957 but never re-branded it.

There’s much more to Memphis than what you see in the glossy travel brochures.

Please leave a comment if this article was helpful or if you have a question.

Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for seven years. He also draws upon 35 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest. In the Olympic Mountains with the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.

Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 30 years and writing about real estate investing for seven years with articles listed on Yahoo Finance, Benzinga, and uRBN. Brian is a regular contributor at Realty Biz News
  • 5 comments on “Little Known Memphis Facts”

    1. SC Toof was a printer, not a newspaper publisher. They ran a 5 story printing facility in downtown, next down to what is now our minor league baseball stadium, Memphis Redbirds, A farm team for the St. Louis Cardinals

    2. We also have Stax, the Levitt Shell, The cotton museum, Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art, A William Eggleston museum, Botanic gardens, some amazing food, and many many other things to do. Don't forget to ask for Cozy Corner BBQ.

      1. Blake,
        Yes, indeed you do. Memphis offers much more than one article can accomplish.
        Thanks again,

    3. The printer's name was S C Toof. I have a painting in my home painted by her.

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