We’ve all done it, sat around with friends and wondered aloud about something odd you’ve heard about Nashville or seen around town. Just last week I was walking in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame and saw little owl statues hanging from the trees. I wondered why they were there, but hurried along to the concert I was going to see. The next day, I was still wondering about those owls … Today, I’ve gathered just a few of the questions I’ve been asked in the past few months to give you all some answers, as well as answer my own owl question (surely others have wondered about them, right?!). One thing is for sure, Nashville has plenty of new residents, and knowing quirky facts about our city unites all of us, both natives and newbies alike.
5 Nashville Questions Answered
What is the significance of the buffalo statues on Dickerson Pike?
These statues were added in 2009 and proved a turning point for the once crime-riddled area. This herd of buffalo bronze statues was part of a revitalization project funded by more than a million dollars of federal grant money through the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Buffalo were chosen as Dickerson Pike follows the same path that the buffalo used to take to get from north of Nashville to the salt licks along the Cumberland River, thus connecting Nashville’s present to its past.
Is it true that the Unabomber targeted someone in Nashville?
Yes, it is. Patrick Fisher, the former chair of the Vanderbilt computer science department, was an early target of Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber. Fisher was out of town when a package containing a pipe bomb arrived. It exploded in the hands of his secretary who was hospitalized for three weeks with burns and cuts. Fisher passed away in 2011 and you can read about his tenure at Vanderbilt and this incident on Vanderbilt’s website.
What’s the deal with the painted catfish sculptures found in different places around town?
Oh, how I wish I had bid on one of these catfish statues in 2003! Yes, that is the year that 51 of these catfish statues were transformed into individual pieces of art by local Nashville artists and placed around town to raise awareness of the water quality in the Cumberland River (which is now quite clean!). The project was called Catfish Out of Water and sponsored by the Cumberland River Compact, Greenways for Nashville, and the Parthenon Patrons Foundation and the statues were all auctioned off in October 2003. Oh, to go back in time and buy a catfish statue!
Today, you can see the catfish at a variety of places around town, but many live in private residences or offices. Some places to spot them include:
- the boardwalk down to Blue Moon Cafe
- in front of the Boy Scouts of America building in Green Hills (which is the one in the photo above)
- in the lobby of the Nashville Scene
- at Centennial Park
- at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital
- at Nashville International Airport
- on the Cumberland River Greenway near First Avenue North
- surely several other places that I’m forgetting!
Is it true that part of Old Hickory Blvd is now under Percy Priest Lake?
Old Hickory Blvd used to encircle all of Nashville. While not continuous anymore, it once was by either road or ferry. So, if you are scratching head wondering why one of the first exits into town on all Nashville interstates, I-24, I-65 and I-40, are all Old Hickory Blvd, it makes sense when you consider this one road once looped the entire city. One section that no longer exists is now under Percy Priest Lake. When the lake was formed with the building of the Percy Priest Dam in the early 1960s, this section of Old Hickory Blvd was buried beneath the water.
Why are there owls hanging from the trees in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame?
Likely the least significant question of this grouping, but hey, it was this thought that was the catalyst for this article, so it needs to be answered, right?! Well, the answer is very obvious to anyone who has ever had birds roosting in their trees and tried to get them to move on … yes, just hang some fake owls and the other birds will be scared away. No more bird poop all over your sidewalk and cars. And yes, I’m an idiot for thinking they signified something else!
Like Nashville history? Read this one article on 5 Disasters that Changed Nashville (the anniversary for one is next week!).