Anderson County is home to the small towns of Clinton, Norris, Oak Ridge, Rocky Top, and Oliver Springs. Many communities in this area were originally developed by the government as an experiment in urban planning and to support employees of ongoing confidential and/or industrial projects. Nowadays, the secret is out, but the history remains just as fascinating.
I loosely put together an itinerary to cover the famous Antique Trail, discover some unrelated landmarks, historic squares, and to revisit places I enjoyed in the past.
Starting in Powell on Clinton Highway, my first must see stop is Ciderville Music Store. Despite their posted “No Jamming!” rule, there usually are some fellas in the side room playing music and they have live shows sometimes. Today they were playing Hank and it set the tone for my day.
Crossing the Clinch River via the Hon. William Everette Lewallen Memorial bridge, 25W becomes Main Street and leads you right into the municipal squares of Clinton and Hoskins Pharmacy & Grill.
Hoskins carries medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, gifts, local goods, antiques, baby items, clothing, and doubles as an ice cream shop and grill. It is exactly what I imagined these extinct drugstore combos would be, long before buildings were renovated and chopped into pieces or torn down to accommodate strip malls.
Next to Hoskins is the Ritz Theatre. Now Showing: Spiderman. Just Spiderman.
The intersection of Market Place and Main Street, with a few peripheral blocks and side streets, comprise downtown Clinton and the densest segment of the Antique Trail. Shops line both sides of Market Place with a handful of cafes in between.
Truffles Cupboard Cafe
So I was talked into ordering this sandwich called the Truffles 10, which brings to mind that irritating old adage about Communism; “it looks great on paper but not in practice.” Leave it to me to link just about anything back to the Motherland.
Admittedly I was intrigued. Can they really pull this off? Is it a real sandwich or a clever casserole?
Reeled in with the description as follows: a slice of meatloaf, a fried green tomato, a few slices of fried potatoes, pimento cheese, and grilled onions between slices of marbled rye, I ordered with hesitation…
I took a few bites. I respect it for what it is. The fundamental problem could be that I do not like meatloaf and I do not like cornmeal breading. Actually I do not like most southern American foods. But none of these things should go on marbled rye.
Around the corner is the Clinton Antique mall with three floors of booths, displays, and a bookstore. As you enter, some very nice gentlemen welcome you, offer assistance during your quest, and direct your attention toward Amelia’s Cafe to the left. I picked up a latte, banged out some polka bars on an old organ, and mosied around a bit.
I considered ordering real lunch here but the food line was backed up and the scorching heat from outside had began to impose itself indoors. As I was leaving, I overheard two separate tables praising their sandwiches and nodding in approval.
To my utter dismay, the whole town was celebrating “Christmas In July.” Christmas carols and Jesus music blasted from every direction. Otherwise mellow, nostalgic merchandise was glittered with ornaments and Santa Claus heads and other obnoxious decoration. Insert desired emoji.
Anyone who loves shopping, particularly for antiques, could probably spend an entire day working this block. I enjoyed my time here and found some fantastic items, but I had something else in mind.
The Green McAdoo Cultural Center is located half a mile outside the town center at the top of the hill. Clinton High School was the first public school that received a court-ordered desegregation in the late 50s, a ruling that was not embraced with open arms.
KKK members held rallies and forced their children to form and join a white supremacist youth coalition. Picketing and riots took place, the mob got involved, well-meaning community leaders were attacked and beaten, and ultimately the school was bombed.
Of course this violence and hatred did not reflect the views of everyone in the town, and Clinton seems to be a welcoming community today.
Green McAdoo was developed as a memorial for these brave students and the adults who fought to desegregate and to protect their lives and rights.
To learn more about the Clinton 12, watch one of these short documentaries.
Also, for what it’s worth, there are a LOT of references to Communism in this video. I did not plan that.
If you are interested in following the same trail or visiting some of the places I mentioned, check out the Clinton Antique Trail website.
Norris is known for its lake, marinas, state park, the giant Tennessee Valley Authority dam, and museums such as the Museum of Appalachia, Lenoir Museum, the Rice Gristmill, and the Threshing Barn.
Norris Dam was created in 1933 when the federal government and TVA took on the great task to control massive flooding and to set the groundwork infrastructure to bring electricity to the area.
An entire populace sacrificed their homes with the understanding that everything they knew would now be buried under miles and miles of water. I have previously written about Norris and Cirrhosis of the River, if you please.
***Currently working on a separate entry about some of my favourite places in Oak Ridge. It’s been years since I lived there and have a few places I intend to investigate soon, so check back.