David Crockett, West Tennessee Man of Mystery and Legend

A group of young Discovery Park guests posing with a reproduction of a John Gadsby Chapman painting of David Crockett on display in the Regional History Gallery.

On the shores of Discovery Park of America’s North Lake lies a quaint collection of nearly a dozen cabins devoted to preserving the culture and heritage of West Tennessee during the 19th century. From cooking to gardening, sewing, weaving, and even going to the doctor, almost every conceivable facet of life is addressed in the two-acre Settlement. Acting as the centerpiece of the conglomeration is a shimmering, larger-than-life statue of one of the most pivotal figures of this region during the early 19th century – David Crockett.

Originally hailing from Green County, Tennessee, Crockett found his way to West Tennessee in 1826 at the age of 39 after suffering a political defeat in his home district. He immediately assumed the congressional office for Tennessee’s 9th District, including Obion County, which had been organized just 4 years prior. Crockett last resided in nearby Rutherford, before leaving Tennessee for Texas in November 1835. Crockett infamously met his end fighting for Texan Independence the following March at the Alamo Mission in San Antonio.

“Davy” Crockett, as he is often misnamed in modern publications, is a figure shrouded in mystery and legend; this was the case during his life as well. Crockett presented himself as the people’s politician – a man in tune with the working class, the impoverished, and the plight of frontier families. This strategy earned him titles such as “king of the frontier,” and gave rise to the folk legend that most people recognize. It was not until 1954 that the popular image of “Davy Crockett” was donned with a coonskin cap by Walt Disney’s miniseries by that name. In reality, Crockett and all of his friends and acquaintances simply referred to him as David, a tradition preserved and respected in the museum and academic communities.

To enhance your visit to Discovery Park, the Explorer Plus package includes all-day access to the Trapper’s Cabin that features a fun nod to Crockett and other early West Tennessee trappers and hunters.

Discovery Park of America CEO Shares Reopening Plans

The south side of Discovery Park’s heritage park includes a man-made river flowing through the landscaped property along with a 120-year-old church, waterfalls and bridges.

Dear Friend of Discovery Park,

While Discovery Park of America will remain closed to the public through May 2020, the museum and heritage park is planning to reopen the outside areas for members only on Sat., May 30 and Sun., May 31, 2020 following strict social distancing guidelines.

The 50-acre heritage park will then open to the general public beginning June 1, 2020, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays for deep cleaning. Discovery Center, the museum at Discovery Park, will remain closed at this time. While most of the outside areas will be open to the public beginning June 1, the Children’s Discovery Garden Playground will be closed until further notice. The entrance to Discovery Park will be through the outside North Gate.

A task force made up of managers of various departments at Discovery Park has been working extensively on guidelines for employees and guests to the park that incorporate the “Tennessee Pledge” guidance from Gov. Bill Lee’s Tennessee Economic Recovery Group.

We’ve also been working directly with Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s commissioner Mark Ezell who is also chairing the Tennessee Economic Recovery Group.

Employees of Discovery Park will be following new procedures that include temperature checks, masks and a strict social distancing policy. Guests will also be given guidelines that will allow them to enjoy the park while ensuring their health and safety. A complete list of the new guidelines for guests can be found on Discovery Park’s website.

Since Discovery Park of America first closed on March 17, 2020 because of the threat brought on by the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak, our goal has been the safety and welfare of our community, guests and staff. Our plan for reopening continues that commitment by incorporating a nurse on duty when we are open, extensive deep-cleaning procedures and ongoing evaluation and implementation of best practices as we make this incredible outdoor space available to guests once again.

The Discovery Park task force will continue to monitor the data and review state and federal guidelines to determine if changes to the reopening schedule are required and to set an opening date for the museum.

All of us at Discovery Park look forward to safely hosting you here soon.


Scott Williams
President and CEO
Discovery Park of America

Like health care providers and first responders around the world, our friends at Baptist Memorial Hospital – Union City are hard at work providing the best care possible for you and our community. Here you’ll find some helpful information on COVID-19 from them along with other links to organizations that could be helpful in times of need.




COVID-19 Info from Our Friends at Baptist Memorial Hospital, Union City

Like health care providers and first responders around the world, our friends at Baptist Memorial Hospital – Union City are hard at work providing the best care possible for you and our community. Because coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new virus and the situation is rapidly evolving, testing and treatment guidelines are changing.

All of us at Discovery Park of America believe it’s very important that everyone in our community here in Obion County and those of you in other cities and towns closely follow the guidelines being provided by our health care professionals.

IMPORTANT: If you have been tested, you must quarantine until results are back. If you have been tested and go to see a healthcare provider, you need to inform them you have been tested so appropriate precautionary measures can be taken.


This helpful information sheet will provide the latest information on COVID-19 and how you can keep you and your friends and family safe during this time.

If you have questions, please call Baptist’s 24/7, toll-free Coronavirus Resource Center hotline at 866-941-4785 or visit baptistonline.org/coronavirus.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to take care of your mental health. If you or someone you know needs assistance, operators are standing by. Call the free and confidential Tennessee Statewide Crisis Line at  855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471).

Have questions about COVID-19? Tennessee now has a hotline to answer your questions. There are two public information lines, and nine regional specific call centers you can call with questions about the coronavirus. The Tennessee Department of Health public information line is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to take care of your mental health. If you or someone you know needs assistance, operators are standing by. Call the free and confidential Tennessee Statewide Crisis Line at  855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471).

Another way to get help is by dialing 2-1-1, Tennessee’s community services help line. When you call, you’ll get a real person, one who is trained to help you sort out your needs, and then give you phone numbers and addresses of the closest places where you can get help. 2-1-1 has a database of more than 10,000 health and human services programs, cross-referenced for all sorts of keywords. So don’t worry if you don’t know what type of service you need or the name of an agency — just talk with the specialist at the other end of the line and she or he can help you find what you need. All calls are free and completely confidential.  Hours vary by location.

State of Tennessee Launches ‘Do Your Part, Stay Apart’ Campaign

Tennesseans join together to fight COVID-19

The State of Tennessee today launches a public service announcement campaign that urges all Tennesseans to adopt preventive health measures to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“Do your part, stay apart” features Governor Bill Lee, First Lady Maria Lee and Tennessee celebrities that includes Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley, University of Memphis basketball coach Penny Hardaway, former NFL Titan Eddie George and Taj George,  University of Tennessee athletics director Phil Fulmer and Vicky Fulmer, Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith and Cece Winans, among many others. Dozens of music artists, athletes and sports organizations who collectively reach millions of Tennesseans will join the campaign via social media.

“COVID-19 is a serious threat to the health and livelihood of our state that must be treated seriously by Tennesseans so that we can slow the spread of this virus, keep our people healthy and get our lives back to normal as soon as possible,” said Governor Lee. “Involving influential Tennesseans will help us reach more of our citizens to drive home the message that the only way to beat the virus is to stop it from spreading. Maria and I are deeply grateful to the individuals in this campaign who are utilizing their tremendous public influence and reach to protect the health of their fellow Tennesseans.”


Like most Tennesseans practicing safe social distancing, the participants have recorded messages from the safety of their homes to emphasize that Tennesseans should stay home as much as possible, avoid gathering with friends, at church or in any unessential activity – and outside the home to maintain a six-foot distance from others.

In addition to preventive health behavior, the message encourages Tennessee citizens to watch out for neighbors, especially those who may be vulnerable to illness: “Right now, the best way for us to care for one another is to keep our distance – and take care of our neighbors. Give them a call or video chat. We’re all in this together. Please do your part, by staying apart.”

The “Do your part, stay apart” PSA campaign will launch initially on social media and will very soon be supported by broadcast partners Charter Communications (Spectrum) and Comcast, as well as Outdoor Advertising Association Tennessee who donated poster and digital billboards across the state. Social media handles are #TNStayApart @GovBillLee @TNDeptofHealth.

You can watch the Governor and First Lady’s video here.

Increased Cleaning Protocols at Discovery Park

As always, the safety and wellbeing of our guests, employees and volunteers is of the utmost importance to us at Discovery Park.  Like you, we are monitoring the developing COVID-19 situation closely and following all guidelines from local authorities. We wanted to let you know about the precautions we are taking to maintain a safe and healthy environment at Discovery Park.

We have increased our cleaning protocols and the disinfection of frequently touched, high traffic surfaces such as doorknobs, exhibit counters and bathroom faucets.  Hand sanitizer and tissues are available throughout the museum and park.

We have instructed our staff, and ask our guests as well, to follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Where possible, practice social distancing and avoid handshakes
  • Sneeze or cough into your sleeve or a tissue
  • Remain at home if you feel sick

Should you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 731.885.5455 orinfo@discoveryparkofamerica.com.

Ten Fascinating People (and two Mosasaurs) Your Family Will Meet at Discovery Park of America

With spring break and summer vacation right around the corner, many are looking for fun trips for families in Northwest Tennessee. Whether you’re in search of a quick, family-fun getaway or you have several days to explore the area, children and adults of all ages will have a unique, one-of-a-kind experience at Discovery Park of America in Union City, Tenn.

Today, Discovery Park is famous for its iconic 100,000-square-foot building, interactive galleries, educational exhibits, and 50 acres of heritage park that is a blast to explore. However, one of the best parts of a visit to this Tennessee gem involves meeting a host of incredible people as you explore.

Here are a few of the most fascinating people you’ll discover at Discovery Park:

10. A Collector of Scales
The interesting collection of scales on display in the Enlightenment Gallery were donated by Phil Wehman, a Union City-native, who collected scales with his wife, George Anna Wehman, since 1970. George Anna first started the collection and joined the International Society of Antique Scale Collectors (ISASC). Phil Wehman’s photographs of their many scales have been featured in the ISASC publications over time. Their collection amounted to over 1,000 scales.

9. Kimberly and Ian – Two Real Mosasaurs
The large fossil reproductions of dinosaurs and marine reptiles that dominate Dino Hall, part of the Natural History Gallery, are all from the Mesozoic Era. The dinosaurs on display include a Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus rex, Apatosaurus, and Appalachiosaurus. The marine reptiles on display include two Mosasaurs named Ian and Kimberly. Kimberly was discovered by Aaron Scott, a University of Tennessee at Martin student, during a dig cosponsored by Discovery Park of America and Triebold Paleontology. He named the fossil after his mother. Scott has visited Discovery Park several times, speaking with guests about the dig and the process of unearthing a fossil.

8. Slingshot Charlie
While most hunters prefer shotguns for shooting ducks, one became famous for his skill with a slingshot. “Slingshot Charlie” Taylor worked as a hunting guide on the lake. One of his clients represented a traveling sportsman show, and he recognized Taylor’s skill and offered him a role in the show. “Slingshot Charlie” later traveled with vaudeville shows and appeared in a Hollywood newsreel. Artifacts from Slingshot Charlie can be found in the Regional History Gallery.

7. The 100-year-old Photographers
Verne and Nonie Sabin
illuminated the wild beauty and life around Reelfoot Lake in the 1920s, and a century later their photographs remain some of the most captivating ever produced of this area. Prints of their photos can be found in Sabin’s Café—named in honor of the legendary photographers—and on display in the Reelfoot Room on the entry level of Discovery Park.

6. The Press Master
The Gutenberg Press on display in the Technology Showcase is a full-scale, fully functional reproduction.  It was built by Pratt Wagon and Press Works of Cove Fort, Utah. Included with the printing press were plates containing the story of Gideon from Judges Chapter 7.  These plates are on display with the press and can be used for printing demonstrations. Pratt Wagon and Press Works was run by Stephen Pratt and his son Ben. They built meticulous replicas, using detailed mechanical drawings as their starting point and the finished pieces were noted for their accuracy. Stephen did all the woodwork while Ben forged the metal pieces. The Gutenberg Press displayed in Discovery Center is among the last printing presses Stephen Pratt built before his death from cancer in 2012.

5. Dolly Dear
A special collection of Dolly Dear dollhouse accessories call the Fantasy Forest Children’s Play Area home. Dolly Dear was founded by Rossie Turner Kirkland of Union City in 1927. She was the grandmother of Discovery Park Founder, Robert Kirkland. By 1944, the company was operating from a factory on First Street and employed 30 people. The dollhouse accessories were sold nationwide through a mail order catalog as well as through other popular mail order catalogs such as Sears and Montgomery Ward.

4. David Crockett
Discovery Park is proud to feature American folk hero, frontiersman, solider, and politician, David Crockett, who lived in West Tennessee from about 1822 to 1835. In The Settlement, guests will find a statue dedicated to Crockett standing near the middle, while his political career is documented in an exhibit in Liberty Hall on the south side of the park.  A print of his portrait by John Gadsby Chapman is on display in The Regional History Gallery.


3. Sleeping Beauty
Inside the one-room Hicks Family House in the Settlement, guests experience the story of Susan Godsey who was born in Obion County sometime between 1835 and 1842. When she was around nine years old, she became sick and then fell into a semi-comatose state. Every day, for the rest of her life, she would only wake up for a very short time. When she was awake, her family would feed her and give her water. Doctors from all over the world came to try to solve the mystery of the sleeping beauty, but no one was able to provide any kind of remedy. She died on Oct. 27, 1873 having been asleep for most of 25 years.

2. Hoot Gibson and Rhea Seddon
The two NASA flight suits on display in the Moon Dome at STEM Landing were used by married astronauts Robert “Hoot” Gibson and Rhea Seddon and were loaned to the park by the astronauts themselves. In 1978, Seddon was selected as one of the first six women to enter the Astronaut Program. After three successful space shuttle flights and 30 days in space, she left NASA to become the Assistant Chief Medical Officer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

1. Robert Kirkland, the Man who Dared to Dream
Discovery Park founder Robert Kirkland began his business with a rented office on First Street in Union City, Tennessee. For a desk, he had an old door set atop a pair of sawhorses. Whatever he may have lacked in furniture, Kirkland more than made up for in determination, inquisitiveness and work ethic. He grew his business and made his fortune in home décor, first in retail, then in imports. His career allowed him to travel the world, exposing Kirkland to sights, sounds and ideas that many live a lifetime without ever experiencing. As his business and fortune continued to grow, Kirkland and his wife, Jenny, committed themselves again and again to supporting their community in powerful ways. Today, Discovery Park of America stands not just as a life-changing gift to West Tennessee, but to the entire world.

Here at Discovery Park, you’ll discover a premier world-class museum and heritage park that provides you and your family a transformational experience with the mission of inspiring both children and adults to see beyond. In addition to these fascinating people, you’ll find fascination around every single corner.

Plan your family-friendly adventure here or buy tickets now and save 10%