Monday, September 03, 2007

Firework City: South Pittsburgh, Tennessee


One of the most visually stunning places for me as a child was the small town of South Pittsburgh, Tennessee. Located off Interstate 24 about 20 miles west of Chattanooga en route to Nashville, the town is perhaps best known for its garish and massive Tennessee Alabama Fireworks World mega-shop, a just-off-the-exit pitstop for refueling, refreshments, beer, bottle rockets and pretty much any kind of firework imaginable. At night especially, TAFW and its competitors beckon weary travelers with the faux neon glow of thousands upon thousands of tiny light bulbs arranged into letters advertising their wares. Local folks call South Pittsburgh the "Las Vegas of the South". TAFW also sells souvenirs, stuff like "Life's a Gas: The Ultimate Fart Book", and other stupid non-essentials such as "hillbilly" cookbooks and, sadly, rows of racially insensitive trinkets.




As a kid, I would get so
excited when I knew we were to drive by this monstrosity and beg my parents to stop. Usually, Dad worked it out so that a stop would serve as some sort of reward (or bribe) for good behaviour. Of course, he loved shopping for fireworks as much as I did and probably enjoyed shooting them even more so.



On a recent visit to Tennessee, I made a brief trip to South Pittsburgh with my camera.
Unfortunately, I could only manage to get there during the day, thus, no pics of the spectacle of lights. However, I was able to stray from the roadside attractions and roam around a bit downtown, the official home of the National Cornbread Festival. The downtown, a few miles from the I-24 exit, might as well be a world away. Snuggled up to the side of a mountain, it's a sleepy, and rather attractive, little town hearkening back to a supposedly simpler time. Still, evidence of a citywide fascination for all things explosive (wrestling, firearms) was easily spotted.



Photography by Tiki Chris © 2007

5 comments:

Emiana said...

Great piece and great photos. I would love to see this place sometime. It would be fascinating.

Jason Mundok said...

Yep, I certainly remember seeing that place (the fireworks mega-store) on many trips from Nashville to Florida, back in the day. That place would almost give you a headache driving by. Good memories.

J

Anonymous said...

is there still a shady massage parlor behind the 2nd fireworks shop? i think it was called Bamboo Spa last time i went through. i ask for purely aceademic reasons...
jon

cookiewonton said...

Ahhhh....I love the cornbread festival! Delicious! You could get a wonderful view from the tacky little traveling amusement park set up at the end of town (France loved riding the "scarus wheel"). Although sadly, I think they got rid of that fabulous double-decker cornbread bus that welcomed everyone to town. Great pics!

Anonymous said...

hi i am from south pittsburg,i know live in new york,it is a small wonderful little place i never knew how much i would miss the little things till i never got to see them again,and just so that nothing goes unnoticed,the blue bridge that is where my home was,over the river,and yes i have seen many on many firework shows in what we call the firework show under the bridge,it really is a wonderful place and to all of the ones that want to go and see this place please go,its a small sleepy little place but in every place your eye will meet,you will see history,from the slicks pawn shop,to the good ole dixie freeze home of the footlong and the dagwood,best milkshakes that side of the mississippi,well best to u all that travel there,and umm umm umm that good cornbread,i miss it go and enjoy the good ole south

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