Filed under: Art, Attractions, event, history, museum, outdoor, top-feature, town
The Secret (Town) is Out: Visiting Oak Ridge, Tennessee
And one of the more fascinating things about it is that in 1905, resident and mystic John Hendrix predicted this in a way.
Returning to back to the secret, unbeknownst to the workers and residents until 1945, this small valley located in the eastern part of the state was selected as one of the sites for the Manhattan Project. Yes, that one; the one that was the development of the atomic bomb.
This weekend, June 18-19, you can learn more about the area’s past during the 8th annual Secret City Festival. In addition to Southern Appalachia Railway Museum’s (map) Secret City Scenic Train Excursion ($15/adults; $10/children, ages 12 and under; free/children, ages two and under), there’s the Y-12 National Security Complex Tour (open to U.S. citizens with valid drivers license and minors must be accompanied by adults), where you can view the world’s only Alpha Calutron Magnets. Special festival tours include the K-25 Heritage Bus Trail Tour (must be 10 years or older) that leaves from the American Museum of Science and Energy (map) and the DOE Facilities Public Bus Tours* (pre-registration is required; must be 10 or older, valid picture ID and a U.S. resident.)
Don’t think that’s all to the festival, there’s more. In fact, a lot more. The weekend is filled with live entertainment featuring Chubby Checker (celebrating the 50th anniversary of the twist); arts and crafts, children’s area, and WW II Combat Reenactment and Living History. Aside from the any (or all) of the tours, you want to see the reenactment and living history since the festival is commemorating the 65th anniversary of the end of War World II.
Beyond the Secret
While there’s no arguing about Oak Ridge’s fascinating past, the town has more to it. Some places that you don’t want to miss is the above-mentioned American Museum of Science and Energy, and if you are traveling with children, definitely stop in the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge (map) for some hands-on fun. Before Oak Ridge was a name on the map, it was primarily made up of farming families and small Appalachian communities. You can revisit this time at the Museum of the Appalachia (map).
For a town of its size, Oak Ridge has quite an arts scene. It fact, it’s home to Oak Ridge Community Playhouse (map), the longest continuously ran theater in the Southeast. Watch a performance or take time to tour Oak Ridge Art Center (map).
Whether you’re a history buff, arts enthusiast, or lover of outdoors, the secret about Oak Ridge, Tenn., is out. It’s a place for everyone to visit.
Easily accessible to both I-40 and I-75, Oak Ridge is located within a day’s drive of 70 percent of the country’s population.
*The DOE Facilities Public Bus Tour is a three-hour tour that takes you behind scenes with four stop. If you can not make it to the festival, this particular tour runs through September 3.
photo credit: All photos are courtesy of Oak Ridge CVB. (top left) K-25 Overlook with Historical Marker; (mid right) Engine, Secret City Scenic Train Excursion; (mid left) Re-enactment; (bottom left) Pioneer Cabin with Blazing Fire at Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge
ASouthern Appalachia Railway Museum2010 Highway 58, Oak Ridge, TNView Details and Book
BAmerican Museum of Science and Energy300 South Tulane Avenue, Oak Ridge, TNView Details and Book
CChildren's Museum of Oak Ridge461 West Outer Drive, Oak Ridge, TNView Details and Book
DMuseum of Appalachian2819 Andersonville Highway, Clinton, TNView Details and Book
EOak Ridge Playhouse227 Broadway Avenue, Oak Ridge, TNView Details and Book
FOak Ridge Art Center201 Badger Rd, Oak Ridge, TNView Details and Book
GUniversity of Tennessee Forestry Stations & Arboretum901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, TNView Details and Book
HHaw Ridge ParkView Details and Book