America was founded on the principles that everyone is created equal and that these people have fundamental rights. Over the course of American History, Americans have fought and many have died because of their firm belief of these principles. America was also founded by men and women with a spirit comprised of hard work and ingenuity. Generation after generation of Americans have handed down these principles and beliefs. The spirit of the American pioneer is on display in Anderson County.
Many of America’s Pioneers have called Anderson County, in the mountains of East Tennessee, home, from the pioneers that settled the Southern US to the scientific pioneers that created the atomic bomb to the civil rights pioneers that took the first step in ensuring civil liberties for all Americans regardless of color.
In 1775, Daniel Boone blazed a trail through the Cumberland Gap leading the way for the establishment of the first settlements in the Appalachian Mountains in what is now known as Tennessee. The term “Appalachian” is not only the name of the mountain range in Eastern North America. It also refers to a unique American culture of crafts, music, cuisine, heritage, and beliefs. Plan on spending some time at the Museum of Appalachia to discover how the pioneers lived off the land and made the tools they needed to survive.
In 1865, the Civil War was ending while coal mining in the Appalachian Mountains was beginning. It didn’t take long for Tennessee, like other near-bankrupt states in the former Confederacy, to legalize the leasing of convicts to private coal companies as forced labor. After which, it didn’t take the free miners long to rebel against this unjust system leading to the Coal Creek War. You can hear about the outcome of the war and the two major mine explosions that killed all but two men in the community at the Coal Creek Miners Museum and along the Miners Discovery Trail of the historical sites.
In 1933, Americans were battling the Great Depression and East Tennessee was additionally hit with devastating floods and lack of food from agricultural neglect. Roosevelts answer was the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority that decided in their first meeting to build Norris Dam and the City of Norris. Explore Norris Dam State Park and its Lenoir Museum Complex to experience life before and after the construction of the dam.
In the early 1940’s, while the Germans struggled to find the fuel source for a weapon that would give them the ultimate power, the United States was looking for a site in the mountains and valleys of East Tennessee to build a top-secret city that would be used to create the world’s first Atomic Bomb. Discover how 75,000 people kept a secret while exploring the World War II Secret City of Oak Ridge. Be sure to start at the Oak Ridge History Museum and include the DOE Public Facilities Bus Tour in your trip.
On August 27, 1956, twelve young people in Clinton, Tennessee walked into history and changed the world. They were the first students to desegregate a state-supported high school in the south. Learn the fascinating history of the twelve and how they not only changed a community but a nation at the Green McAdoo Cultural Center.
The City of Oak Ridge was built to discover a technology that didn’t exist and that basic purpose did not end with the end of World War II. The origins of most of the technological advances of the 20th and 21st century can be traced back to Oak Ridge. Plan on spending some time at the American Museum of Science and Energy to learn about the technological successes that have occurred in Oak Ridge since the the Manhattan Project. You will also get a glimpse of technologies that will have significant impacts on our future.
On December 4, 2014, the United States House of Representatives passed the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which included provisions authorizing the Manhattan Project Park. The Senate passed the bill on December 12, 2014. President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law on December 19, 2014, authorizing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which designates the three Manhattan Project sites as a collective National Park. Stop by the park's welcome center located at the Children's Museum of Oak Ridge for information on all the park's attractions.