Just south of Knoxville is Marble Springs Historic site. It’s the last remaining home of John Seiver, first Governor of Tennessee and Revolutionary War hero. The buildings are representative of his life and times. They include a tavern, loom house, smoke house, spring house, and the John Sevier Cabin and detached kitchen. The large loom in the picture is over 100 years old. The tour guide shows how they prepared and spun wool, cotton and flax.
While looking for a good place to take our morning walks we decided to visit the University of Tennessee Arboretum at Oak Ridge about 20 minutes from our campground. I was looking for a place to walk on flat trails through pretty gardens at this working University Research and Education classroom. It is set up to be a natural laboratory and wildlife area. There are plenty of hiking trails but they steeper and rougher than I expected. At the visitors’ center there is a large collection of walking sticks for visitors to use as they hike the trails and enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors. It was an interesting place to visit but the trails are a bit more challenging than I wanted for a morning walk! We did find a great, paved walking trail along the Clinch River in nearby Clinton. We enjoyed walking there several times.
The highlight of our time in eastern Tennessee was two especially enjoyable day trips. One was to Pigeon Forge where I wandered through the shops and enjoyed seeing the old mill. The other a fun and beautiful drive up to Newfound Gap high in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We drove to the top, right on the Tennessee/North Carolina state line. However, we were up in the clouds and the view was lost in the fog. A bit lower down the mountain we ate a picnic lunch by a beautiful stream. The weather was cool and cloudy but it didn’t take away from the beauty of it all.
We picked a pretty day to visit Knoxville’s Market Square for the Dogwood Arts Festival. There was a wide variety of items for sale there including jewelry, pottery, photography, metal art as well as a booth you could have a Henna design applied. There were many food trucks there providing a variety of tempting treats as well as local restaurants doing a brisk business. My favorite thing was the music stage where we heard the Empty Bottle String Band performing.
Nearby Oak Ridge is famous for its part in the Manhattan Project where uranium was enriched to be used in the first atomic bomb ever made to end World War II. We visited the American Museum of Science and Energy and did a bus tour of various facilities where scientists searched for ways to quickly produce what was needed for an atomic bomb. At the Graphite Reactor we heard a lecture on how it worked. We could walk around some and saw the actual log entry made when the enrichment was finally achieved. We were surprised to learn that several other buildings still being used for research and by the Department of Energy. Along the way we saw two original churches with their cemeteries that were part of the rural community before the area became a research area in World War II. The American Museum of Science and Energy has many hands on activities relating to atomic energy as well as information on the coal mining done in the area.
As you can see the Knoxville area has a lot to offer sightseers. It’s no wonder that it’s such a well known and loved area.