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Things to do in Clarksville

    Montgomery County Historical Society Montgomery County Historical Society Clarksville, Tennessee
    The Montgomery County Historical Society in Clarksville, Tennessee has become one of the finest repositories of historical materials in the region, since the early period when various Native American tribes lived and thrived along the Cumberland and Red Rivers; including the Paleo-Indians, the Archaic, the Woodland and the Mississippian tribes that have left plenty of evidence of their living and being here, those many centuries ago. With some knowledge beforehand, John Donelson would begin a historic journey with his flotilla of flatboats as they moved along the Tennessee River. An excerpt from one of his journals stated that on April 12, 1780, one Moses Renfroe and a party would take their leave of the main group and climb the hills above the Red River and begin a settlement that would exist for just a short time. By the early 1780s, there were three major stations located in the Cumberland Red River area; the Prince's Station that had been started in 1782, near Sulphur Fork and Red River, then Neville's Station that was started in 1784 between Prince's Station and Clarksville; and the Clarksville Station that was the only one of the three that would grow into a city, which was also started in 1784 by the confluence of the Cumberland and Red Rivers. In the start of the new year in 1784, one John Montgomery and Martin Armstrong would survey the area and begin selling lots, naming it after General George Rogers Clark, a great Indian fighter and Revolutionary War hero. By the end of 1785, the state of North Carolina had established Clarksville as a town, even though there were numerous Indian attacks, it would still be surveyed and plotted, with early settlers coming here to try and recreate the homes and lifestyles that they had before coming here, but in this wilderness. In 1796, Tennessee would become a state of its own, Tennessee County that had Clarksville in its region, was soon divided into Montgomery and Robertson Counties, with Clarksville becoming the seat of Montgomery county. The Montgomery name would be in honor of John Montgomery, who was one of the founders as well as being known for his prowess as an Indian fighter and Revolutionary War leader. During the early years of the 19th century the area would progress quite well, with new roads, bridges, railroads and construction of churches and schools. In the 1860s, as the Civil War broke out, citizens would have to declare their allegiance to either the Union or the Confederacy; with the folks in Montgomery County voting to secede or remain in the Union, with just 33 out of the 2,664 residents voting against the secession, so Forts Donelson, Henry and Defiance would be constructed to prepare for the Union invasion, only to fall to them in 1862. Once the Civil War was over, the Cumberland River would continue to be a main source of traveling the regions, and soon Clarksville would become known for its production of dark fired tobacco, which would become the main money crop for the area. During the years from 1900 to 1940, the city's trade and business would continue growing as did the town since it was so closely intertwined with the agricultural business. In the latter 19th century and the early 20th century, education would become very important, so the Rural Academy would be opened in 1806 on the current site of the Austin Peay State University, which had its roots begin in 1929 as the Austin Peay Normal School, which was a two year school to train teachers for the rural public schools of the state. During WWII, the military would once again create an impact on the region, when it constructed Fort Campbell in Montgomery County set on 42,000 acres that had been purchased for its creation and by June 1942, the relocation of many families would be finished. The post would be named in honor of General William Bowen Campbell; which became a permanent installation in 1950.

    Dunbar Cave
    Dunbar Cave Clarksville, TennesseeThe Dunbar Cave State Park in Clarksville, Tennessee sits on 110 acres of land that encompasses the Dunbar Cave, that is the 280th biggest cave system in the world, running 8.067 miles into the earth's core, with a marvelous and big concrete poured structure running along the front entrance containing three distinct arches. The cave sits in karst topography with limestone bedrock, springs and sinkholes, with a lovely lake along its frontage called Swan Lake, which was manmade. The entrance or the area within the entrance had been the site of many prehistoric natives for thousands of years before the first European settlers came here, leaving awesome drawings on the cave walls that could be anything, but researchers believe them to be more related to religion or its ceremonies. Isaac Rowe Peterson had come to the region and liked what he saw, so he claimed it and left to bring his family back in 1790, but while he was gone, Thomas Dunbar arrived and claimed it for himself and brought his family here and settled it. By the time Peterson got back and discovered the claim, he would become involved in a difficult legal fight that eventually gave him the clear title in 1792, even though the name was Dunbar would be kept. In the Mexican-American War, the cave would be mined for saltpeter, which was one of the main ingredients of gunpowder, and after it was over, in 1858, some developers arrived here and saw the outstanding potential , especially with the Idaho Springs being located nearby and constructed the first cabins in the area. Once the Civil War was finished, the cave and springs would be acquired by J. A. Tate, who would build a two-story hotel there. By 1931, the area could boast of numerous social events, that included fairs, dances and concerts, but was in dire need of repairs and refurbishment. The state had just finished putting in a new road by the front of the hotel and a few businessmen in the area began cleaning up the site, putting in more recreational facilities and activities, that included a bathhouse, tennis courts and a concrete swimming pool, as well as renovating the hotel and enlarging it. The lake that was there already would be dammed to increase its size to 20 acres; and then, in 1948, Roy Acuff would purchase the cave for $150,000, which became the site of entertainment shows and musical festivals, hosting big bands like Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman; also adding a golf course next to the lake, although it slowly but surely declined in popularity as the nation opened up with the transcontinental roadway system and other areas became just as popular. McKay King bought in in 1963, and operated the Dunbar cave complex until his passing in 1971, although the pool had closed down in 1967. His widow, would inherit the property, and in 1973, the state bought it to become a state natural area. In January of 2005, park specialist Amy Wallace, history professor Joe Douglas, geologist and author Larry E. Matthews and local historian Billy Frank Morrison would discover the magnificent Native American petroglyphs in the cave, containing over 30 drawings and etchings that could be dated to the Mississippian era using torches and uncovering many relics near by. A few of the pictographs are believed to be religious symbols, with one showing a Mississippian supernatural warrior.

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    Custom House Museum & Cultural CenterCustom House Museum & Cultural Center Clarksville, Tennessee
    The Custom House Museum and Cultural Center is the state of Tennessee's second biggest general interest museum situated in Clarksville's downtown district, containing children's, fine art and history displays. The museum is housed inside an 1898 structure that had been constructed for use as a Federal post office and custom house created to handle the huge volume of foreign mail that had been created by the city's international tobacco business, constructed on the site of a former boarding house. The building had been designed by the Federal Treasury Supervising architect, William Martin Aiken in the eclectic style that had become very popular during the Victorian era in America, with Aiken incorporating many elements of that style including stick, Italianate, Flemish, gothic, Queen Anne and Romanesque. The high pitched roof contains four big eagles on its corners, lovely terra cotta ornamentation and steep gable windows that have been combined to showcase the rather small structure. There was one story that had the architect becoming inspired by a trip to China, but it was denied; and constructed by Charles A. Moses of Chicago. The center occupies more than 35,000 square feet of space with numerous hands-on activities and many special events that bring the citizens of the community to visit more often as the exhibits change offering new and interesting exhibits. The cultural center is situated in an entire city block of outstanding gallery spaces, filled with history, fine artworks and science. Permanent exhibits include; the Bubble cave, Lucy Dunwody Boehm's porcelain collection, the Memory Lane, postmaster's office, Explorer's gallery, student art gallery and Challenges and Champions sports gallery. In the Peg Harvill gallery, local and regional artists are encouraged to showcase their works and talents each year, with many being shown during the summer from June 1st to August 1st.

    Don F. Pratt Memorial Museum
    Don F. Pratt Memorial Museum Fort Campbell, Kentucky
    The Don F. Pratt Memorial Museum at Fort Campbell, Kentucky is housed in Building 5702 on Tennessee Avenue containing many military relics and memorabilia that is very touchable and indoor, as well as outdoor exhibits that will give visitors a better idea of military history. Some of the marvelous relics include tanks, planes, helicopters, capture enemy weapons, jeeps, trucks and equipment from Vietnam, with a recruiter's jeep from the 1970s and other various objects that had belonged to German Nazi high ranking officials. Its main theme is the history and glory of the 101st Airborne division, with visitors getting a better feel for it all with a close encounter with a restored CG-4A cargo glider. The Fort Campbell Historical Foundation is a nonprofit that offers support and assistance to the museum while continuing to construct the new Wings of Liberty Military Museum and the Fort Campbell historical complex, which will commemorate and save the legacy of the fort's many soldiers, both present and past.

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Local Restaurants in Clarksville

    Looking Glass Restaurant & Gourmet Bakery
    Entrees; 5 pepper chicken is pasta tossed with cheesy white wine sauce, topped with chicken breast slices & bell peppers with a side; seafood pasta is penne pasta tossed with salmon & shrimp in lobster bisque sauce with a side; chicken alfredo is fettuccine pasta tossed in white creamy Alfredo sauce with diced chicken with a side; coconut-pecan chicken is chicken encrusted with coconut & pecans with 2 sides; salmon wellington is baked salmon in puff pastry & topped with caper-dill sauce with 2 sides; Hawaiian ribeye steak is marinated steak & mashed potatoes with 1 side; coconut shrimp is seven coconut shrimp with 2 sides; seafood fra diablo is mussels, scallops, shrimp in spicy marinara sauce; portabella garden is Mediterranean style penne pasta with sautéed portabella mushroom topped with spinach.

    Entrees; stuffed red pepper is quinoa & mushroom stuffed pepper, braised greens, beet tzatziki; monk fish osso buco is Pat Woodbury clams, fennel sausage, black kale, fingerling potatoes, olives, tomato-paprika broth; house-smoked chicken with ricotta dumplings, sautéed spinach; duck breast with parsnip puree, house-smoked bacon, Brussels sprouts, dried fruit & nut compote; Pat Woodbury clams & linguine is littleneck clams, linguine, herbs, garlic, white wine; sirloin steak with potato pancetta gratin, garlic-shallot sautéed rabe; braised lamb shank with green olives, preserved lemon, oven-roasted tomato, cous cous, black kale. 

Seafood Pasta Looking Glass Restaurant & Gourmet Bakery Clarksville, Tennessee



Braised Lamb Shanks Casablanca Clarksville, Tennessee

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    Historic Collinsville Historic Collinsville, Tennessee
    Historic Collinsville, Tennessee has become a living history museum that contains authentically restored outbuildings and log houses that had been used from 1830 to 1870, and includes the earliest home to the elegant mansion that sits high atop a hill with separate sleeping quarters, kitchen and living areas. Every structure has been reconstructed or refurbished to its original condition and then painstakingly furnished with all the period interior decorations and furniture. The experience is one of going back in time to the mid19th century and partake the life that had been enjoyed back then, enjoying the magnitude of the beautiful Tennessee hills and countryside, with a crosswork pattern of farms, taking a leisurely walk along the many trails or just exploring the marvelous old structures that have been brought here for the delight and enjoyment of the community and its visitors. There is a two story log house that was constructed in 1870, that is considered to be a double-pen dogtrot house with attached kitchen and many other unique homes from that era. This land has been traveled by the Shawnee, Creek, Iroquois, Cherokee and Chickasaw, and then the hordes of European pioneers and settlers that were looking for a permanent place to build their homes and families, farming off the land and enjoying the fruits of their labors. It is a place filled with history, culture and beauty, where cotton and sheep filled the landscapes and the Cumberland River where all the goods were brought to be shipped by riverboat to various ports along the river system. The Delta Queen Riverboat still flows along the river, where the banks are filled with crops of wheat, soybeans, corn and cattle grazing, where hard work was always rewarded with a table filled with fresh vegetables grown organically, before there even was an organic farm, and lands that were lovely to look at, often filled with deer, bear or other animals native to the region. The park has a new exhibit called the Irby-Bumpus Wildlife and Native American Center that contains their collections of prehistoric Native American relics and a small example of the outstanding variety of that wildlife that has wandered through these fields, woods and streams for centuries in the Cumberland River Valley. One such exciting story that was reported in the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle in 1893 told its readers that Gus Davis, that lived near Collinsville, which is located on the south side of the river, arrived in the city that morning to tell his tale of sighting the biggest wildcat he had ever seen in that part of the country, and eventually would be the biggest bobcat ever killed in the county; weighing more than 50 pounds and having a hide that stretched more than four feet from tip to tail. When you visit the area around Clarksville, be sure to stop by and peruse the awesome collection and learn more about the early history of the region that sits close to the Kentucky border and had been one territory in the beginning.

    William Bowen House
    William Bowen House Goodlettsville, TennesseeThe William Bowen House, also called the Bowen Plantation House or the Bowen-Campbell House in Goodlettsville, Tennessee is a two story Federal style brick house that was constructed by William Bowen, Revolutionary War veteran, after he brought his family here in 1785. The house would be constructed over several years, and would be the birthplace of William Bowen Campbell in 1807. The house is currently in the process of being refurbished to its 1790 condition, with tours available through the Historic Mansker's Station, and is now encompassed by the Moss-Wright Park that had been part of the original plantation land. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and is a magnificent testament to the abilities and craftsmanship of the day. After the Revolutionary War, Captain William Bowen would be awarded some land grants for his service and he and his wife, Mary would move here with their four young children, although that number would eventually turn into ten as the years rolled by. Bowen would someday own more than 4000 acres thanks to his hard work and determination, becoming fairly well off, but passing on in 1804, and followed by Mary in 1827. William Russell Bowen would live in the house until it was sold off in 1835. The William Bowen Campbell that had been born in the house in 1807 went on to become the fifteenth governor of the state of Tennessee, he was the grandson of William Bowen. Their brick house would become the first brick house constructed in the state, after living in a double log cabin until it was completed.

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    Smith-Trahern MansionSmith-Trahern Mansion Clarksville, Tennessee
    The Smith Trahern Mansion in Clarksville, Tennessee is located by the campus of the Austin Peay State University, and had been constructed just before the start of the Civil War, becoming the home of Christopher Smith and his wife. Smith was a riverboat captain, tobacco farmer and prominent businessman; which occupations would drastically affect his life later on. The family had become well known in the region before the Civil War, living in a magnificent mansion that survived the many decades, overlooking the Cumberland River, where he worked as a riverboat captain. It has been told that one night Smith was sailing on the river when a violent storm began coming down on him, as his wife sat at home wondering how he was doing in the terrible night. As the time passed, Mrs. Smith became increasingly worried, until the news arrived that he had perished by drowning in an accident on the river. She went into shock and immediate denial, refusing to believe that he had drowned, and continued sitting by the window looking down onto the river, actually expecting him to come walking up the hill to her. She waited vigilantly for days, then weeks, then months, as she went about her daily routine, still looking and waiting for him to return; in fact, for the remainder of her life, she waited for her husband to come home, and according to many, she continued on doing it after she passed away. Many visitors and passers-by, claim that they have seen her, or a woman looking very much like her, peering out the window, as if she was still looking for Christopher to return; while others claim that they feel an unknown or unseen presence when walking or exploring the house. However, it does seem very strange that Mr. Smith would die a violent death, and never return, as a spirit, to the house, while Mrs. Smith died of natural causes, serenely lying in her own bed; and yet, she is the haunting figure that looks out the window for a dead husband? Sounds like a good place to visit, but the ghost story is more enticement to have people visit. Either way, the house is such a beautiful mansion that it is well worth the visit regardless of what folks have seen or heard. The mansion was built in the Greek revival and Italianate style that had become very popular during that period, with a gorgeous curved staircase, grand hallways and a widow's walk on the roof. Also, an addendum must be added to the story; since evidently Christopher did not drown but rather died of the yellow fever in New Orleans and on his way home, the riverboat exploded for mysterious reasons and his body never found.

    Manskers Station
    Manskers Station Goodlettsville, TennesseeMansker's Station was started by Casper Mansker in 1780 near Manskers Lick, Tennessee, who was considered to be one of the first white men to come to the region; who was a frontiersman, soldier, Indian fighter, long hunter and pioneer, actually becoming quite famous in the region. He signed the Cumberland Compact in 1780, and the city of Goodlettsville, considers him to be their first citizen. The station is a reconstructed building of his first station fort near the site of the original location of the living history museum in Goodlettsville. There are numerous stories and legends about Mansker, but those you can read when you visit here. The station is located in the Moss-Wright Park and although it isn't the original, there were enough records and descriptions found to rebuild it according to the various other stations in the region, and constructed using the same materials and construction methods. Wooden pegs were used instead of nails, the skillful joining of the logs and an adze was used to hew and smooth all the flat wood surfaces. It has become a living history museum as well, with costumed docents, well learned in the history and ways of the people back then, to help modern folks understand more about these early hardy pioneers that came and settled here. It is a marvelous venue to learn about the early days of pioneering in the wilderness of Tennessee and the hazards and hardships that met these good folks when they arrived.

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    Fort Donelson National BattlefieldFort Donelson National Battlefield Dover, Tennessee
    Fort Donelson National Battlefield in Dover, Tennessee preserves Fort Donelson and Fort Heiman, the two sites that the Civil War battles of Forts Henry and Donelson campaign, where General US Grant and Admiral Andrew Hull Foote would capture three forts, reopen two rivers and their extensive waterways to the Union navy and would get national recognition for their actions that occurred in February, 1862; which would become the first major victories of the war for the Union. The majority of the park is situated in Dover, and commemorates the Battle of Fort Donelson, which turned out to be one of the most influential battles of the war and American history. Fort Heiman, which is in Calloway County, Kentucky had been a Confederate battery that was used in the Battle of Fort Henry. According to historians, the most penetrable area of the Confederate defenses was in the western theater, and included the state of Kentucky. The main two waterways, the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, could become the best way for the Union to invade the state and then head into Tennessee and south. It would be a bold plan, although Kentucky had made itself neutral, which meant that any Confederate defenses that could have been constructed in the state might alienate the local citizenry. In May of 1861, two engineers would be detached from the 1st Tennessee Infantry, William F. Foster and Adna Anderson, who were sent to search out a suitable area just inside the Tennessee border to cover the defense of the two rivers at the same time, surveying possible sights by the Cumberland, making note of the high ridges and deep hollows by the Kentucky border. By mid-May, by the west bank of the river not far below Dover, Anderson would be able to lay out the water battery of Fort Donelson, which was about twelve miles from the border. The new fort would be named in honor of General Daniel S. Donelson, that had approved the site of the fort, along with Colonel Bushrod Johnson of the Corps of Engineers; and the construction started with the help of a big force of men from the Cumberland Iron Works. In 1928, the site would be officially named the Fort Donelson National Military Park, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. However, in 1985, it would be redesignated a national battlefield in 1985, which allowed for the increase of its size from 551 acres to 2000 acres. The park preserves quite a bit of the original battlefield, which includes the river batteries and the eroded remnants of the fort, although the area where the Confederates assaulted the Union forces in 1862 is still in private hands and much is occupied with residential developments. In the 1960s, the Cumberland River would be dammed and become Lake Barkley; encompassing an area that is almost the same size of the river when it was in flood stage, which it had been during the battle. The Fort Donelson National Cemetery is located adjacent to the park and contains 15.34 acres and has 670 Union soldiers interred, with many veterans from other wars; but is currently closed to further burials.

    Ringgold Mill
    Ringgold Mill Clarksville, TennesseeThe Ringgold Mill was one of the first commercial businesses in Clarksville, Tennessee constructed as a grist mill in 1810 by Thomas Rivers, located along the banks of the Little West Fork Creek. The mill would be sold in 1853 to M. D. Davie, who then constructed a stone dam to improve the efficiency of the mill that cost him some $10,000. In 1857, he would construct a house on the property, although Union troops would destroy part of the mill in 1863, hoping to mess up the supply lines of the Confederate army, as well as retaliating for the loyalties of the owner, M. Davie. After the war ended, Davie had the mill reconstructed and it would continue operating until 1885, when it was hit by lightning and destroyed by fire. It would be rebuilt once more, only this time a small turbine engine would replace the water wheel power. In 1907, it would be renamed to its present name and then operated until 1974, under the ownership of the Durrett family of Clarksville. It was used as a post office, library and then voter precinct location during the interim, but today, it is privately owned.

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    Belmont MansionBelmont Mansion Nashville, Tennessee
    Belmont Mansion in Nashville, Tennessee is also known as the Acklen Hall, which had been called Belle Monte or Belle Mont or Belmont, and is a magnificent historical mansion constructed in 1849 by Adelicia Hayes Franklin and Joseph Alexander Smith Acklen. But that isn't when the story starts, since it is more about this marvelous woman that was born into a well known and prosperous family from Nashville, who was born in the city in 1817. When she was 22, Adelicia would marry Isaac Franklin, a man 28 years her senior, and they would have four children together before he passed away, leaving his widow a millionaire. All of their children would pass away before the age of 7, and Isaac himself would pass away from a stomach virus while visiting one of his plantations in Louisiana. Adelicia would inherit his enormous estate that included, 8700 acres of cotton plantations in Louisiana, over 50,000 acres of undeveloped land in Texas, 750 slaves, stocks and bonds and Fairvue, a marvelous 2000 acre farm in Tennessee. In May of 1849, she would marry Joseph Alexander Smith Acklen, a lawyer from Huntsville, Alabama and Mexican War hero. They would construct the beautiful mansion together, finishing it in 1853, constructed in the style of an Italian villa and filled with elegant gardens with many outbuildings, which includes a great water tower that is still standing today and supplied the gardens and fountains with their water needs, and in the front of the tower sat a two hundred foot greenhouse and conservatory. The grounds also housed a number of gazebos, that are still there today, a bear house, zoo, bowling alley and art gallery. Adelicia even went so far as to open the zoo to the citizens of the city so that they also could enjoy the zoo, since there weren't any public zoos available at the time. They would hire Adolphus Heiman, a Prussian born architect working out of Nashville, to increase the size of the mansion and add a back porch that would become the Grand Salon, a huge room with a French style barrel-vaulted ceiling in 1859; which architectural historians have described as the most elegant domestic space in antebellum Tennessee. With the new changes, the mansion contained 36 rooms and some 10,000 square feet of living space, with another 8400 square feet in the cellar; all filled with exquisite furniture, marble statues and paintings. Joseph would die while in Louisiana managing Adelicia's Angola plantation, with 2800 bales of cotton held in storage. Adelicia would then travel to Louisiana with a female friend to try and sell the cotton illegally to a broker from Liverpool, England for $960,000 in gold. She would marry Dr. William Cheatham, a well known doctor in Nashville, in 1867, and the reception held at Belmont with around 2000 guests attending. As the 1880s approached, she would be spending more time in Washington DC, visiting her only surviving daughter, Pauline. She would sell Belmont in 1887 to a land development company when she moved to the capitol permanently, but later that year, she would contract pneumonia on a shopping trip to New York City and die in a Fifth Avenue hotel. Her body would be sent back to Nashville so that she could be buried in the family mausoleum at Mount Olivet Cemetery. In 1890, two women would purchase the estate, and open a girl's school, eventually merging it with Nashville's Ward Seminary, which then would be renamed Ward-Belmont, which would become an academy and junior college for women. It would change hands again in 1952, when it became Belmont University which is now a co-educational liberal arts school that offers bachelor and graduate programs. The mansion would be added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

    Lane Motor Museum
    Lane Motor Museum Nashville, Tennessee
    The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee houses one of the finest unique collections of automobiles, which are mainly European, started in 2003 by Jeff and Susan Lane, using his personal collection. It is located in the former Sunbeam Bakery that occupied its present site from 1951 to 1994, with numerous architectural details kept on the marvelous old structure. This outstanding collection contains more than 330 automobiles, related art and memorabilia and about 20 motorcycles. It includes the biggest collection of Czechoslovakian cars outside the confines of Europe, amphibious vehicles, microcars, three wheeled cars, propeller-powered vehicles, military vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, prototypes and one-of-a-kind; showcasing the unusual and outlandish of the automobile's developments that have occurred through history. The floorspace contains 132,000 square feet, and houses vehicles that were manufactured during the 1950s through the 1970s, but there are a few from the 1920s and as new as 2000. It is a working museum, which means that every vehicle is being worked on to make sure that they are in running condition and arranged by country, like the majority coming from Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan, Great Britain, Italy and the US.

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January 21, 2011