Tag Archives: Judge Elmer Eblen

The Beginnings of Roane County Park

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

On April 23, 1949, the Harriman Lions Club, took over sponsorship to develop the Roane County Park to have a place for camping, picnics, swimming, and boating among other outdoor activities. Several attempts had been made to develop the park previously but they had failed. The area that was utilized for immediate development by the Lions Club was 60 acres while there were another 120 acres for possible future expansion. Roane County Court Judge Elmer Eblen created a County Park Commission and appointed the same men who were leading the project for the Lions Club. Those were Frank Faris, John R. Evans, R.T. Hamilton, E.T. Primm, and Roy Carmack. The land for the park had been taken by TVA as part of the Watts Bar Dam project and was then turned over to Roane County for the sole purpose of creating a park. The Lions Club first started drilling a well on the property and talked about digging another well for the central part of the park that would handle three picnic areas and the trailer camp area. Various members of the Lions Club were appointed for the following projects:

Wells – Clyde Suttles
Boat Dock – C.W. Bohanan
Tables and Ovens – Albert Ahler
Swimming Area – E.R. Allen
Garbage disposal – R.C. Williams
Recreation Area (slides, swings, sandboxes) – Wallace Smith
Roads – Ed Browder Clearing Wood and Underbrush – H.L. Kindred
Signs – Walter H. Scarbrough
Rest Rooms – Herbert Rawlings

It was the vision of the Harriman Lions Club to start development of the park that led to the Roane County Park becoming what it is today.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, September 2016.

Roane County’s Ugliest Man

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

The person who was given that title was Wesley M. Featherly. In Walter Pulliam’s, “Harriman, Tennessee, The Town That Temperance Built,” the late Judge Elmer Eblen was quoted as saying Featherly “was not exactly the handsomest person you ever saw. Matter of fact, some thought he was the ugliest man they ever saw.” Originally from Michigan, he came to Harriman from Florida and purchased what became “The Harriman Record” newspaper in 1900. He ran the newspaper until 1919 when he moved to California. In 1923, he appeared as the King’s Chancellor in the movie Robin Hood with Douglas Fairbanks and also appeared in about a dozen other movies. It is said that he capitalized on his ugliness to get his roles in Hollywood. In 1923, he was severely injured while playing the role of a traveling salesman in the film version of Dante’s Inferno. He never fully recovered from his injury and died in 1925.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, March 2015.