A Day Away: Darrow gets his space in Dayton

By Mike Steely It took 92 years but Clarence Darrow finally stands opposite his historic opponent William Jennings Bryan in front of the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee. Bryan, the defender of Creationism during the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925, got a statue in 2005 courtesy of the Bryan College Board of Trustees.. Darrow, […]

Scopes Festival planned for Dayton

By Mike Steely One of the greatest court trials in America is being re-enacted as part of the Scopes Festival in Dayton in July. The 1925 trial, where a local teacher was charged of illegally teaching evolution, will be presented on various days from July 14th to July 22nd in the same room the original […]

The Mysteries of Tellico Plains

By Mike Steely What may be the oldest settlement in our region is only an hour or so away. The village of Tellico Plains is, indeed, a gateway to the lower Smoky Mountains. The little town is just south of Madisonville and  is an historic site that is the entry to the Cherohala Skyway. That […]

Oak Ridge’s Friendship Bell

By Mike Steely It sits by itself in a lonely spot in Oak Ridge, a symbol of peace between Japan and the United States and a reminder of Pearl Harbor and the dropping of atomic bombs that ended World War II. The Friendship Bell seems like a contradiction between the horrors of war and the blessing […]

Silver Springs has changed

By Mike Steely Silver Springs, Florida, is about eight hours south of Knoxville and a long day’s drive. There’re lots of places to stop to eat or stretch along the way. Once you get through the nightmare known as Atlanta traffic the drive becomes pretty routine. If you haven’t been to Silver Springs in the […]

Visiting the World Trade Center

Visiting the World Trade Center

By Mike Steely Did you know that  it’s quicker to fly from Knoxville to New York than to drive from here to Bristol or Nashville? Yep, in just less than two hours you’re there and what a change of cultures. My wife and I recently spent six days in New York City, the first time […]

A DAY AWAY: Who built state parks in Tennessee?

A DAY AWAY: Who built state parks in Tennessee?

By Mike Steely Ever wonder who built the state parks in Tennessee? The parks—with pools, trails, campgrounds, roads, parking lots, pavilions, cabins, dams and administration buildings— didn’t just spontaneously appear. As I’ve written before, my wife and I have visited all but one of the 59 Tennessee State Parks and what surprised us was the […]

A history lesson while camping

By Mike Steely All Tennessee State Parks have some connection with our state’s history but Harrison Bay State Park just north of Chattanooga touches that category more than most. The 1,200 acre park on Chickamauga Lake on Highway 58 can claim pre-statehood links through the Cherokee, an early statehood town site, and the Tennessee Valley […]

Visiting the Barter Theater

By Mike Steely Small towns do not usually boast professional theaters but Abingdon, Virginia, just northeast of Bristol and a few blocks from Interstate 81, is the exception. Only about three hours from Knoxville, the Barter Theatre there is worth a destination or a side trip. The theater was founded during the depression when a […]

Sultana descendants to gather

Sultana descendants to gather

By Mike Steely steelym@knoxfocus.com The riverboat was built for about 376 passengers but, because the captain was being paid for each passenger he could carry, the Sultana was packed with more than 2,000 people on its final voyage. Most of the passengers were Union soldiers returning from the Civil War or from Confederate prison camps. […]

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