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The Land Beneath Us – Tour of Tullahoma, Tennessee

To celebrate the release of The Land Beneath Us, I’m conducting a photo tour of locations from the novel that I saw on my research trips to England, Normandy, Tennessee and more.

From the previous books in the Sunrise at Normandy series:

From The Land Beneath Us:

Today—Tullahoma, Tennessee

Pointe du Hoc, Part 1

Pointe du Hoc, Part 2

Don’t forget to enter The Land Beneath Us Release Day Giveaway, which includes lots of items I picked up on the trips! Giveaway runs Feb. 4-10, 2020.

Tullahoma, Tennessee

In 1940, Tullahoma, Tennessee was a small Southern town of 4500 people. That year the US Army began construction of Camp Peay, which was officially activated as an Army training camp on 10 January 1941 and renamed Camp Forrest after Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest—not without controversy. At Camp Forrest’s peak during WWII, Tullahoma’s population swelled to 75,000, straining housing, the phone, water, and postal services, and more.

When I visited Nashville for a conference in September 2018, I took a side trip to Tullahoma to get a feel for the town. My first stop (after lunch) was at the historic Couch’s store. When I inquired whether the antique postcards by the cash register were for sale, the lovely lady behind the counter gave the traditional Southern greeting to a California girl—“You’re not from around here, are you?” I hadn’t even said “like” or “totally.” It turned out I was speaking to Candy Couch, great-granddaughter of “Daddy Billy” Couch, a Tullahoma legend, and daughter of Bob Couch, a gifted photographer and a World War II Navy veteran.

Candy showed true Southern hospitality to me. For at least an hour, she told me stories and showed me old photos and even left her store (without locking the door!) to show me photos and artifacts next door. What a treat! So much of her information made it into The Land Beneath Us, and I’m truly indebted to her.

Daddy Billy's Restaurant and Couch's Store on N. Atlantic St., Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

Daddy Billy’s Restaurant and Couch’s Store on N. Atlantic St., Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

Candy Couch with a photo of her beloved father, Bob Couch, in the historic Couch's store in Tullahoma, TN, September 2018 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Candy Couch with a photo of her beloved father, Bob Couch, in the historic Couch’s store in Tullahoma, TN, September 2018 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Here are some views of Tullahoma’s downtown.

N. Atlantic Street, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

N. Atlantic Street, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

N. Atlantic Street, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

N. Atlantic Street, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

W. Lincoln St., Tullahoma, TN. Clayton's Shoes has been in this location since 1910 (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

W. Lincoln St., Tullahoma, TN. Clayton’s Shoes has been in this location since 1910 (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

This building was the post office during World War II, and is now owned by the First Christian Church (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

This building was the post office during World War II, and is now owned by the First Christian Church (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

Some beautiful Tullahoma churches.

First Baptist Church, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

First Baptist Church, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

First Christian Church, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

First Christian Church, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

This is the train depot, which plays a pivotal role in the story. According to Candy Couch, the depot used to lie a block to the south, directly in front of the family store. However, the freight trains often blocked a major intersection, so they moved it to its current location right before World War II.

Train depot from the street side, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

Train depot from the street side, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

Train depot from the rail side, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

Train depot from the rail side, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

Camp Forrest

Few of the buildings for Camp Forrest remain today, and the trees have completely taken over. Using maps, I found the locations of the library and hospital. Also, there are nice monuments to Camp Forrest and to the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions that trained at Camp Forrest.

At Camp Forrest site, looking down Forrest Blvd., near location of former library (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

At Camp Forrest site, looking down Forrest Blvd., near location of former library (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

At Camp Forrest site, near location of former hospital (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

At Camp Forrest site, near location of former hospital (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

Monuments to Camp Forrest and the Rangers, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

Monuments to Camp Forrest and the Rangers, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

Monument to Camp Forrest, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

Monument to Camp Forrest, Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

Monument to the 2nd & 5th Ranger Battalions Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

Monument to the 2nd & 5th Ranger Battalions Tullahoma, TN (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2018)

If you’d like to see some historical photos of Camp Forrest, please visit my Pinterest board.

If you’d like more information on Camp Forrest and life in Tullahoma during World War II, please see Elizabeth Taylor’s excellent books, Images of America: Camp Forrest (which really helped in the writing of this novel) and her brand-new book, Voices of Camp Forrest in World War II. She kindly sent me a copy, and it’s full of fascinating photos and stories!

Please come back tomorrow, when I’ll share the first group of photos from Pointe du Hoc in Normandy.

2 Responses to “The Land Beneath Us – Tour of Tullahoma, Tennessee”

  1. Susan Newcomb

    What a cute town, so nice to see where Leah lived while Clay is away
    Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Janice Laird

    Really love these Tullahoma photos. Gosh, I would have loved to go on that research trip with you!

    Reply

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