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Shelby Farms Park: Five Times The Size of Central Park

- Hye Sung

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Shelby Farms Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, ranked even higher than Central Park. Situated in Memphis, Tennessee, this 4,500 acres is a natural habitat for many species. You may spot beavers, turtles, deer, and even a bison herd when visiting Shelby Farms Park. There are also an abundance of birds, so go birdwatching if you’re into that sort of thing. Packed with lakes, forests, and wetlands, this park is perfect for a peaceful afternoon stroll. Alongside hiking trails, there are bike trails perfect for an awesome workout.

History of Shelby Farms Park

The history of Shelby Farms Park is actually kind of bizarre but extremely fascinating. Shelby Farm Park was first established as Nashoba Commune, an experimental project of Fanny Wright, an abolitionist, feminist, social reformer, and free-thinker. It was to be a place for the education of slaves and preparation for their freedom and eventual colonization in either Haiti or Liberia. Though the commune never reached its goal of emancipation, it was a project that stirred much controversy in its day.

The land was acquired by Shelby County in 1928 and was used as a “penal farm”, in which local prisoners were involved in agricultural labor. Since the 1970s, though, the farms became utilized for recreational purposes. By 2008, a major redesigning of the park was undergone, creating more boating activities, more paved trails and roads, and they planned to plant 1 million more trees.

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Since 2008

A new playground has since been built, as well as a disc golf course, a BMX race track, and horseback riding trails.  The Shelby Farms Greenline was built, which is a 6.5 mile long trail that runs from an area close to Midtown and into the Shelby Farms Park. The Greenline is the longest urban trail in Memphis and the first trail in the state of Tennessee to use a pedestrian hybrid beacon at two major crossings.

If you are ever in Memphis for the Italian Festival, Beale Street Music Festival, May in Memphis International Festival, or for the general music scene or even a day-trip to Graceland, why not make your way to Shelby Farms Park? It’s the perfect haven for Tennessee’s largest city.

For more information on events and attractions at Shelby Farms Park, go to http://www.shelbyfarmspark.org/

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