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Oliver Springs

Have you ever heard of a town that’s actually in 3 places at once? Sounds impossible, right? Well, Oliver Springs is proof that it’s not! This small town, located in Morgan, Anderson and Roane Counties, was once well-known as a vacation destination due to its beautiful hotel and natural springs.

Historic Oliver Springs was founded in 1821 as a coal mining town. The small town of 3000 people was incorporated in 1905, and is known for their pre-1900s buildings. Some of these include a former hospital, a family general store, and a train depot that serves as a museum/library. A walking tour brochure showcasing all of the beauty of Oliver Springs is available at the Roane County Visitors Center (1209 N Kentucky St in Kingston).

Downtown’s Train Depot Museum is a must-see! Built c. 1893, the Oliver Springs Depot was one of the busiest of the Coster Division. Its popularity grew along with the nationally known Oliver Springs Resort Hotel and nearby coal production. The last passenger train pulled through the depot in 1968. In 1983 Southern Railway planned to demolish the structure. The town rallied for saving this historic remnant and eventually struck a deal with Southern Railway, provided it would be removed from the site and relocated elsewhere. In 1986, the citizens of Oliver Springs were able to have the building moved across the street with the help of TVA. Today, you can even get up close and personal with a train caboose, ticket station and more! The Depot Museum is located at 610 Walker Avenue.

Oliver Springs is also home to one of the country’s largest distributors of confections, Country Fresh Fudge, and its retail store, Pamela Anne’s. Be sure to stop in and load up on sweet treats while in town!

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Murals Around Roane

We’ve all seen that picture perfect Instagram photo in front of a cool mural and wondered where we’d have to travel to snap the same photo. Look no further than right here in Roane! With murals of all kinds spread out across the county, you’ll be racking up likes in no time.

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Kingston, Rockwood and Harriman all have an abundance of artwork to check out, all with their own unique style and subject. From riverboat scenes to football games, there are lots of ways to enjoy these larger than life pieces of art.

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To begin your mural tour, we recommend starting your morning at Our Town Coffee or Handee Burger for a quick breakfast. Make your way toward the courthouse and you’ll find at least 3 murals within walking distance.

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From there, it’s a quick car ride down to Harriman where you’ll find gorgeous murals on both ends of N Roane Street. One even features a football game between Harriman College and the University of Tennessee in the early 1900s! You just may spot the remnants of murals from days gone by if you look close enough between buildings.

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Last, make your way to Rockwood to see their beautiful tribute to the city’s 150th birthday featuring a Tennessee Tri-Star mural that has quickly become a favorite among visitors in Roane.

No matter where you wind up, be sure to tag your murals photos with #soakinroane so we can see them!

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K-25 Overlook & Visitor Center

Roane County is made up of 5 unique cities, but did you that one of those cities was once a secret community that changed the course of history? Oak Ridge, Tennessee, formerly known as “The Secret City,” was formed from farmland in Anderson and Roane Counties and used as a top-secret location for enriching the uranium that went into the atomic bomb that ended World War II.

Both counties are doing their part to preserve that history, and Oak Ridge is now a part of the Manhattan Project National Historic Park! Fortunately for us, Roane County holds much of the rich history of the Manhattan Project, including the community once known as Happy Valley.

In fact, Happy Valley is where the K-25 Facility sat from the 1940s until recent years, and it’s history is now being preserved through the K-25 Overlook & Visitor Center.

The Overlook & Visitor Center was recently renovated by our friends at Bionomics, Inc.  and the help of Designsensory with the shared vision to see this space become a recreational hub as well as an additional resource for preserving this piece of our past.

The Overlook features maps of trails surrounding the visitor center, historical displays and a chance to relax and recharge before exploring the recreational opportunities laid out before you.

The Overlook is open during daylight hours. Be sure to use the hashtags #soakinroane and #exploreroane when you visit!

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Hooray for Harriman

Every Labor Day, the City of Harriman opens its arms to everyone as they gather to celebrate the city’s history and tradition at the annual Hooray for Harriman street festival! This event features live music, lots of arts and crafts vendors, delicious food and fun for the whole family! This year’s event takes place September 2 from 9a – 4p in Downtown Harriman (N Roane Street).

This year, the Princess Theatre is getting in on the fun! You can beat the heat by stepping inside this restored art-deco theatre and enjoying a variety of entertainment. See schedule below:

9a-11a – The History of Harriman

11a – 12:40p – Film: “A Dog’s Life”

2p – The Singing Cookes on stage

Once you step back outside, you shouldn’t miss kids alley! There will be kids activities, inflatables and more! One of our favorite parts of the day is strolling from vendor to vendor finding all sorts of great handmade items. If you’re ready to start thinking about Christmas, it’s a great chance to get a jump start on gifts! Many of the downtown shops will be open as well, allowing you the opportunity to meet local business owners who are striving to make Harriman an even better place to live, work and play!

For more information about Hooray in Harriman, visit http://www.cityofharriman.net.

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From Steers to the Stage

As most of you know, Roane County is home to Roane State Community College, but did you know that Roane State hosts cultural and community events like rodeos, dog shows, concerts, plays and much more? You’ll find something for everyone at Henry/Stafford East Tennessee Agricultural Exposition Center (or Ag Expo for short) and the O’Brien Theatre!

Ag Expo

The Expo center hosts events nearly every single weekend with most being free or at minimal cost to visitors. These events range from reigning horse demonstrations to barrel racing filled rodeos to Westminster style dog shows. Many of the events use both the indoor and outdoor arenas and are open to spectators.

The Ag Expo is also home to the annual Three Rivers Antique Tractor Show & Pull every October. This two day event features tons of antique tractors, a garden tractor pull and a large tractor pull as well as live music, concessions and lots of activities for children!

O’Brien Theatre

The O’Brien Theatre is home to many types of productions from plays to concert and everything in between. This auditorium has played host to famed authors and actors and is the perfect setting for The Nutracker Ballet performed by Arts in Motion every year.

The Theatre is also adjacent to the O’Brien Art Gallery which features exhibits of all media throughout the year. The gallery is free, but events in the Theatre often have an admission charge.

Whether you’re looking for a choral concert or a chance to pull on your rodeo boots, look no further than right here in Roane!

For more information on Roane State, click hereroane state expo.

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Moonshine, Music & More

If you haven’t been to Rockwood lately, let me just start by telling you that you’re missing out. With more and more awesome events, restaurants, and concerts popping up, you need to check our calendar and schedule some time exploring this gem! Let’s start with a few of my favorites:

Rockwood Museum & Visitors Center

Featuring artifacts from Rockwood’s rich history, this museum is a labor of love and an absolute gem. Stop in to learn about this small town’s history of moonshine and more!

The Museum is available as Rockwood’s favorite event rental space providing round tables, chair, platform stage and kitchen.

The Museum & Visitors Center is also home to the #RoaneSong concert series.

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RoaneSong is the aptly named concert series that takes Rockwood by storm on select Friday nights throughout the year. These concerts are a great chance to get up close and personal with your favorite (and soon-to-be favorite) singer songwriters in an intimate venue setting.

Just some of the incredible talent Roane Song has hosted include Jason Eskridge, Sam Lewis, Blue Mother Tupelo, Johnny Neel and more!   Always family-friendly enjoy some of the best live music this side of Nashville for only $10-$15/person admission.  Reservations usually not required but calling ahead is recommended as many times it is standing-room only and feel free to BYOB or bring something to eat (food and beverage are not available).

Favorite Eats

It’s no surprise that you’ll find me in Rockwood on any given weekend enjoying a small taste of what this town has to offer. My personal favorites all offer a little something different, but you can’t go wrong with any of these listed below.

Cadillac Grill – Roane’s newest and biggest sports bar and grill! Try the rock-a-maki appetizer. You won’t regret it!

6 Blessings Cafe – Rockwood locals love this great little lunch spot. When at 6 Blessings, NEVER skip dessert!

Club House Bar & Grill – One word. Wings. If you want the best wings in Roane, run, don’t walk to Clubhouse Bar & Grill located at Rockwood’s Golf Course.

Jake’s Bar & Grill – If you go to Jake’s, and you don’t try their new pizzas, you’re doing it wrong. Seriously. Get the pizza.

MeMe’s Restaurant – You NEED to be here for breakfast. Really, any meal is amazing, but their breakfast is good enough to make you wanna smack your mama, y’all!

Live & Let Live’s Soda Fountain – After you’ve gone on a full food tour of Rockwood, there’s ALWAYS room for ice cream! Stop in and step back in time at this old fashioned soda fountain complete with hand scooped ice cream.

Boutiques & Antiques

If you’re looking to walk off some of those calories, you’re in luck. Rockwood has several great boutiques and antique stores to find your new favorite conversation piece! Whatever you do, don’t miss a visit to A&E Mercantile for cute clothing and accessories for women and children. They have a great selection for curvier girls, too! Some of my favorite outfits were bought right here in Rockwood!

When I’m in the market for home decor and antiques, I always stop by You Say Tomato. You never know what amazing items you’ll find as you wander through the many booths at this antique paradise! I can almost guarantee that you won’t want to walk out empty handed.

Husbands, don’t panic! If you’re not a fan of shopping in antiques and boutiques, make your way just outside of downtown to visit Jerry’s Bait Shop. Here you’ll find all of your bait and tackle dreams come true! You’ll even find a brand new farmers market stocked with fresh goodies and baked treats to take home!

Festivals & Events

When it comes to festivals and events, there’s no where on earth that knows how to celebrate what makes a community unique better than Rockwood. Rockwood is home to the Thunder Road Festival held each April celebrating the city’s history as a primary route for moonshine runnin’ long before this high octane spirit was deemed legal.

Rockwood is also home to Rockwood’s Summer Cruise-In series and Fall Festival held in conjuction with the East Tennessee Polk Salad Festival. Each of these events bring in live entertainment, delicious food, lots of arts and crafts vendors and a great opportunity to spend time soaking in Roane right here in Rockwood.

This is just a small taste of all you can experience right here in Rockwood. Go check it out for yourself and let us know how you like to #SoakinRoane!

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Bark About Town at Fort Paws

It’s no surprise that people with pets love to do as much for their fur babies as possible. New toys, tasty treats, and new places to explore and exercise are all a part of the life of a dog owner, and now thanks to Roane’s new dog park, our canine friends and their owners are finding new and better ways to Soak in Roane!

Located on Highway 58 off I-40 Exit 352 before you reach Fort Southwest Point, Fort Paws is a brand new dog park featuring fire hydrants, lots of room to run, dog water fountains, shade trees, benches and more! Built in safety features ensure that your four legged furry friends can run off-leash without fear of an escape.

The parking lot even features a protective coating to keep those fuzzy feet from suffering painful burns on hot asphalt.

Located adjacent to the park, you’ll find gorgeous views of Watts Bar Lake and access to a waterside walking trail that spans several miles. From the trail, you can easily walk your dog (on a leash, of course!) to Fort Southwest Point or to the Gravel Pit or Kingston City Park. There are lots of ways to enjoy the views and amenities offered for animal lovers!

My dogs, Hoagie and Clementine, are big fans of Fort Paws, and we go every week! If you see us, come say hi! We’d love to tell you more about why we call this place our Roane Sweet Roane!

 

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Where to Eat on Watts Bar Lake

volcano burger caney creek.jpgOne of my favorite things about summer is finding a patio, a cold drink and good food. If there’s live music, even better! Lucky for me, Roane County has a handful of great options for waterfront dining. Whether you’re traveling by boat or by car, you don’t want to miss out on these local gems! Here are a few of my personal favorites:

If you find yourself near Caney Creek, stop on in and see Mike at Caney Creek Grille! Famous for their all-you-can-eat catfish on Sundays, this is the place to be on weekends. The Grille features great local bands often, and it’s not uncommon to find a packed house. Friday nights are my favorite because there’s almost always a live band. My personal favorite is the cajun burger, but you’ll never go wrong with the catfish either. Seasonally, Caney Creek Grille is open Thursday – Sunday (hours vary). If you’re arriving by boat, but you’d rather keep on cruising, call ahead for dockside delivery! Now THAT’S service!

Next, we’re on to the Crow’s Nest Restaurant at Blue Springs Marina! My personal favorite is karaoke night on Thursdays topped off with a cup of shrimp and corn chowder and crab cakes. Wash it all down with an ice cold beverage, and you have the recipe for an excellent night! The Crow’s Nest is also an excellent venue for lakeside views and live music. While the Marina itself is open 7 days a week for boaters, the restaurant is open Thursday-Sunday (hours vary). If you don’t have your own boat, no worries. You can rent one from Blue Springs! Excuse me while I plan my next day off… a boat rental on Watts Bar, great food, live music or karaoke…days like that can’t be beat.

Lastly, I want to make sure you know about an option that’s a little outside the box. Long Island Marina has grown so much over the past 2 years, and it’s now one of my personal favorite hangouts. Every single weekend, they bring in a food truck and with last summer’s addition of their patio affectionately known as “The Perch”, I could stay there all day! I’ve met so many interesting people there, and I love to chat with the owner, Marla. She’s warm and welcoming, and you can tell she genuinely loves her job. The food trucks she brings in offer everything from waffles to veggie burgers, and it’s such a fun experience all around. The food trucks are usually there on weekends, but the Marina store is open 6 days a week (closed Mondays) if you’re just looking for a light snack or on a beer run.

So what are you waiting for? Make plans to check out one or all of these great spots this weekend. You won’t regret it!

 

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National Tourism Week Recap

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For those of you who don’t know me, the voice behind the blog, I’m Sam. I’m the Communications & Marketing Manager for the Roane Alliance, and it’s my job to tell the world about all of the great things Roane County has to offer. When Lake Season begins, we hit the ground running, typically launching into full summer mode on National Tourism Week in early May. Since then, things have been crazy, but I wanted to take a minute to recap what a great week we had!

As part of National Tourism Week, we went on the road with brand new t-shirts and koozies to showcase a few of the many things we love about Roane. This meant visiting local attractions, restaurants and lodging as part of a marketing strategy encouraging visitors and residents to Soak in Roane. We also wanted to make our tourism partners aware of the merchandise we have available in our welcome center by advertising our tourism brand.

We kicked off the week with a Grand Re-Opening Party at the K-25 Overlook & Visitor Center in Oak Ridge which gave the public an opportunity to try local food trucks, hear homegrown bluegrass music and experience the history of Happy Valley and its role in the Manhattan Project.

On Tuesday evening, my mom and I put on our dancing shoes for an evening of wonderful music and fun as we sat in on bluegrass jams at Bradbury Community Center’s weekly Pickin’ and Grinnin’ event! We had a blast going from room to room listening in and singing along to gospel and bluegrass favorites. Now, it’s an event I don’t miss!

On Wednesday, Gabe Collier took me on a tour of Whitestone Inn’s beautiful grounds compete with a sneak peek into their summer concert series. We took the golf cart all over the property, peeking into the beautiful suites, scoping out the tennis courts and talking about what makes Whitestone such an incredible place to stay.

On Thursday and Friday, Alix (our project manager) and I hit the pavement visiting Our Town Coffee Café, Rusted Roots Café & Market, Amazing Bakes Cookies and Cakes, Harriman’s Carnegie Library, Chuck’s Deli, Oliver Springs’ Depot Museum & Abston Garage, Old Pals Kitchen, Jolly Bowl, the Clubhouse Bar & Grill at Rockwood Golf Course, Shipwreck Diner, Cadillac Grill, and The Living Room Arcade & Event Center. We topped off the week with our friends from the Morristown Marine Team Trail at Jerry’s Bait Shop where more than 220 boats were set to launch as part of their fishing tournament series. Donna Cox at Jerry’s Bait Shop said that the week had been “great” and that business was better than ever while expressing her thanks for the part we play in promoting her business.

It was so much fun to connect with local business owners while promoting all of the wonderful assets we have in Roane. The sights, sounds and flavors of Roane County all come together to create something truly special, and I love that we get to share it all during National Tourism Week!

What’s your favorite Roane County restaurant or attraction? Who would you like to see featured on our tourism facebook page, Roane County Visitors Bureau?

 

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Spend a Saturday Evening in Kingston

meg on waterTomorrow, there are 2 very different events taking place in and around Kingston. Whether you’re more into fear or farms, we’ve got you covered!

For those that like to be scared, don’t miss your chance to experience The Meg on the Water at Kingston City Park (333 W Race St, Kingston) on Saturday, June 22.

Bring your own inner tube, life jacket (life jackets are required) and $15, and you can spend the evening floating in Watts Bar Lake while you watch The Meg on the big screen! Don’t have an inner tube? Bring an extra $5 to rent one! Everyone who stays in the water until the end of the movie will get an “I survived” style t-shirt!

The movie starts at sundown (approximately 9:00 PM). Brave movie watchers should arrive and check in at 7:00 P.M. at Kingston City Park under the pavilion. There will be directional signs and shuttles to drive you and your tube to the drop-off location to enter the water. There will be multiple parking areas surrounding the park including: Roane County High School, Kingston Community Center, Byrd Field Park, The Gravel Pit, and limited spots available inside Kingston City Park. You will be allowed entry 1hr prior to start of movie. Food vendors will be at the event, so come hungry!

Before you head down to get in the water, stop by Our Town Coffee Cafe for a shark bite frozen lemonade, too! We’ll call it liquid courage even though there’s no alcohol. Ha!

If you’re not a scary movie fan, there are other options! Head to Narramore Farms Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze (199 Laurel Bluff Road) for their first-ever Sweet Corn Festival! On Saturday, June 22 from 5p-9p, the farm will be open for an evening of family fun.

For just $5, you can come play on the farm, enjoy live music by husband & wife duo Westwend, purchase their sweet corn right from the source,  enjoy roasted corn, shop local vendors & top off the evening with s’mores around the bonfire.

Rumor has it, Narramore Farms’ corn is the best around. So why not bring the family over to find out? There’s plenty for kids of all ages to do, too!  This includes swings, small slides, culvert slides, pedal car track, duck races, ring toss, tetherball, tug o war, culvert swing, and many other activities.

For a calendar of upcoming events around Roane, click here.

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