COVID-19 UPDATES: Keeping Visitors Healthy

Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park Honored for Innovation

January 31, 2020  |  Permalink

Thursday, January 30, 2020

CONTACT: Kim Schofinski
(615) 350-3431




NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has honored Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park as winner of the 2019 Excellence in Innovation Award for Tennessee State Parks.

Parks nominated in the innovation category are those that have demonstrated the ability to “think outside the box” to create new ideas for enhancement or improvement. The “innovative” project must be long-lasting or far-reaching.

“Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park found an affordable way to replace and preserve lights in its iconic map of Tennessee, and it is very deserving of this award,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of TDEC, said. “We are always looking for better ways to serve our visitors, and this is an example of finding an effective way of preserving a real treasure.”

Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park contains the largest physical map of the state in existence. It is in prominent view of the Capitol and is the “welcome mat” for many of the park’s visitors since it is the closest feature to the tour bus stop off James Robertson Parkway in Nashville. The map contains 95 halogen lights for the 95 counties in Tennessee, one in each county seat on the map. The original design presented several challenges. The lights pulled over 3,000 watts of electricity. When lit, the bulbs generated enough heat to cause burns. They frequently failed and were expensive to replace. The waterproofing in the fixtures degraded and electrical shorts often occurred. After only a few years, the lights were all replaced with metal caps.

Last year, park staff researched alternative methods of relighting the map using current technologies. The staff procured and installed solar-powered LED light pucks that are designed to be installed in roadways at a much lower cost than it would have taken to replace with wired lights. All 95 counties in the map are lit again but now consume zero watts from the electric grid, produce no heat, need no replacements or maintenance for many years, and are durable and waterproof.

The Tennessee State Park Awards were created to recognize excellent work in the parks and are overseen by the Park Area Managers. Parks and Conservation directors vote on the awards, which are presented annually in January at an award ceremony during a parks management conference. Categories for the awards include facilities management, innovation, interpretation, resource management, and sustainability.

Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park has been honored with the Excellence in Innovation Award for Tennessee State Parks by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. From left are Chris Padgett, area manager; TDEC Commissioner David Salyers; Jerry Wooten, park manager; Mike Robertson, parks director; and Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner.

About the author