Tag Archives: Tennessee River

Tennessee Elevates to a Level 3 – State of Emergency

Numerous rounds of heavy rainfall and flash flooding moved across the state starting February 6th. This rainfall set new records across many locations in Tennessee for the month of February and nearly the entire state received between 10”-20” of rain. Flooding during this time caused widespread damages to roadways, homes, farms, infrastructure, and communities.

Roane County’s Office of Emergency Service responded to support the local fire departments, law enforcement, EMS crews, Roane County Highway Department and the Roane County Rescue Squad to deal with the immediate threats to life and property. Communication with local governments, utilities, and county departments started early to assess the damages caused by the rainfall.

Estimates are approaching $10M to repair the losses in Roane County. New hillside slides are still being identified creating major safety concerns on our roadways so this number could continue to grow. We established an e-mail address Roane.EMA@roanecountytn.gov for residents to self-report damage to their homes or businesses in addition to our crews being out completing damage assessments. All of the information is compiled and reported to TEMA on a daily basis. Seventy-six of our county residents have reported some level of damage to their homes. Residents are urged to call the TEMA Assistance Hotline at 1-833-556-2476 for flood damage assistance.

While flood waters have largely resided across the state, the Tennessee River still remains at the action and minor flood stage, the Mississippi River remains at a minor flood stage, and the Obion, Hatchie, Cumberland, and Stones Rivers remain at action flood stages. Locally, we continue to see new slides along our roadsides. Our Highway Department is working hard to make our roads safe as quickly as possible.

The State of Emergency is still active and the danger is still present. Please do not move safety barricades or signage. Public safety is of the utmost importance. Roads will be opened as soon as they are safe.

Watts Bar TVA Grave Removal

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

In preparation for the building of Watts Bar Dam, some single graves and entire cemeteries were removed because those areas would be flooded by the backwaters created by Watts Bar Dam. To move the graves, TVA required a family member to approve the grave to be moved. If no relative was found or the family did not wish for the graves to be removed, TVA left the graves there, and they were covered by the backwaters. Two cemeteries, the Jackson Cemetery, and the Perry Cemetery, both located in the Tennessee River, are now located on islands. In the Jackson Cemetery (located across from Boyd Woody’s house) there are 35 graves, and in the Perry Cemetery (which is located on Thief Neck Island) there are six graves. In all, about 100 graves were moved. The most graves that were removed from a single cemetery were forty-seven graves which were located in the Kendrick Cemetery near the New Hope Community. The graves that were removed from the various cemeteries were relocated to several different cemeteries. Some were removed to the Oak Grove Cemetery in Rockwood, Luminary Cemetery (South of the River), Eagle Furnace Cemetery, and Cedar Grove Church Cemetery near Paint Rock among others. Some graves were removed to cemeteries in Rhea and Meigs County. New roads were also created to provide access to other cemeteries in which the old roads were covered.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, June 2017.

The Controversial Dike in Kingston

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

In 1939 – 1940, the Tennessee Valley Authority drew up plans to create a dike on Highway 70 at Kingston which would keep the waters of Watts Bar Dam from flooding the town of Kingston. This plan was supported by TVA and many of the citizens of Kingston and Roane County. The dike allowed traffic to travel directly on Highway 70 West from Knoxville, instead of the route which had for many decades required drivers to turn right onto Kentucky Street coming from Race Street and then turn left on Cumberland Street. The plan was controversial, in that there were people who were for the dike and those who opposed the building of it. Those for the plan pointed out the amount of land that it would take up and the amount of flooding that still would occur if the dike was not built. Plus the costs would have included Roane County having to replace Roane County High School. Still, there were some citizens who were opposed to it. However, many of these opponents would have ended up with lakefront property. But the plans continued as originally designed.

The following article appeared in The Rockwood Times, July 3, 1941, about the completion and the description of the dike.

“Work on Kingston Dike Against Lake Nears Completion. Roadway On Structure To Make Beautiful View Of Lake Area Available.” The much talk of the dike being erected by the TVA to keep the backwaters of Watts Bar dam from inundating the town of Kingston is now receiving the finishing touches. The main construction has been completed and the roadway on top of the dike has been aided with a temporary rock surface which will be later converted to concrete or asphalt. The main dike is tied into the hill just beyond the home of Hugh E. Wyatt and extends out through what was the Wilkey bottom through the Evans, Muecke and Oran lots coming to grade at the intersection of Cumberland Street and Harriman avenue where the dike and Highway 70 or Broadway of America come together. The highway has been raised too, so as to become a part of the dike on out to the old Clinch River Bridge. Most local travel will now go down Cumberland Street and go on the new highway where the dike and highway come together. The main travel through town will come down Race Street which has been raised to go onto the dike near the M.E. Church property. Highway 58 intersects with Race Street at the junction with Kentucky Street and the travel going over this highway will go into Race Street and on over the dike. The dike itself is approximately 35 feet high, 160 feet wide at the base and is 1550 feet long. The top is 40 feet wide with a roadway and sidewalk on the side. The north side of the dike is being sodded (sic) and the south or lakeside is being rip-rapped with a heavy stone. At the west end of the dike, a boat ramp and parking area is being erected. From the top of the dike is one of the best scenic views in all the TVA territory and thousands will stop and gaze upon the beauties of the lake extending down the Pellissippi (sic) to historic Southwest Point and the main lake of the Tennessee River. The boating and fishing of this immediate lake cannot be surpassed in all the country of the Tennessee Valley.— “Roane County Banner.”

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, February 2017.

Roane County at the End of the Civil War

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Even though the Civil War ended in 1865, animosities continued in every aspect of life. One of those was the petition sent in 1865 by the Paint Rock Baptist Church, located South of the Tennessee River, to all of the Baptist churches in the Hiwassee Baptist Association in which part of it stated, “Whareas some of our brethren and sisters have beene engaged in bringing about the rebellion of 1861 which has brought the deth of many of our sones and daughters made widows and their children orphans and drenched our land and country in blud” . . . “do hearby denounce discoutynence & protest Aganst the wicked Rebellion & will exclude from among us all such as may have pertisipated in said wicked Rebllion by premetated acts of aid or comfort to said so cald confedersey or to the advancment of Rebllion & Aganst Eney & Aganst enney acts of enney or our Bros. & Sisters May have commited whitch wood desfanchise & in(?) chredous n A govermentle point view & consiquuenely so soon or as fast as we may arive at proper testimony of Enney Such transgressor among us. Resolved that we will rid ourselves as A Church of all such offenders by a strict corse of diseplen ordering such offenders up for an investigation of ther wicked conduct & Apon convicttion unless an ackowledgment & satisfaction on ther parte & Exclusion shall Be ther distney.”

Not all of the records of these churches survive. The Paint Rock Baptist Church minutes are among those missing. Of those that survive, the largest number of members removed was at Shiloh Baptist Church, located South of the Tennessee River. There were 99 members removed including the minister, Rev. M.H. Sellers, who was charged with “Loaning his gun to the rebels & saying that wasent able to gaw himself but he had his gun in hands that would use it & for joining a company.” Interesting enough, Jonathan Barnard (who was pro-union), had given the land for the Church, closed and locked the door to the Shiloh Church to the members who had joined or aided the Confederacy during the Civil War. The Confederate supporters created another Shiloh Church and the two Shiloh Churches remained split until 1879 when “. . . that in the year 1865 there arose a division in the Shiloh church which remained until the present and it has long since been found that said division has not been beneficial to the cause of the Lord & master but instead thereof we feel satisfied that it has proved detrimental to the cause of Religion in the vicinity of our once happy church. Therefore we the surviving members mutually agree to rescind all our acts of exclusion. Note this is intended to embrace only those exclusions that were declared against each other for political principles or that had their origin from politics.” In the minutes of other churches, Cave Creek Baptist Church excluded four members. In the Smyrna Baptist Church minutes, there is approval of the petition but no exclusions of members. At that time the Smyrna Church only had twelve members. Also, there is mention in the Hickory Creek Baptist Church minutes of the petition but no record of any removal of members. In the Hinds Creek Baptist Church minutes, the petition is not mentioned at all. John H. Acuff, who had two sons in the Union Army and two sons in the Confederate Army (one of which died in the war), led the uniting of the Post Oak Springs Christian Church, located near Roane State Community College, by arranging for a Communion Service at the church. At the close of the service, he invited all of the people there to partake. His two sons from the Union Army and the one from the Confederate Army came forward and sat down together to have Communion. This marked the beginning of the healing of the Post Oak Christian Church. [The words in quotations are transcribed as they are written.]


Cave Creek Baptist Church (1943)

Paint Rock Baptist Church

Paint Rock Baptist Church

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, November 2015 and January 2016.

Guido and Hindo – The German Police Dogs

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Thomas L. Brown (1866- 1931) was one of the best known (notorious?) Roane County “characters” of his time. He was superintendent of the Roane Iron Company’s Chamberlain ore mines, south of the Tennessee River. Besides owning two ferries that operated in Roane County, he also was the owner of a steamboat that operated between Knoxville and Kingston. In today’s terms, he would be a multimillionaire. In a time when very few people in Roane County owned automobiles much less seen them, Tom Brown could be seen driving with his German police dogs, Guido and Hindo, riding with him. When he died in 1931, he left a trust of $1,500 in his will to take care of his two dogs. Today, $1,500 would be about $23,000. Tom Brown is buried in the Bethel-Kingston Cemetery in an unmarked grave. It is not known when Guido or Hindo died or where they are buried.

Originally Written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, September 2014.

Roane County’s Only Toll Bridge

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

The bridge on Highway 58 crossing the Tennessee River which was torn down in 2004, was Roane County’s only toll bridge in its history. It was built between 1928 and 1931 for a cost of $306,683.96 as part of the Federal funding for toll bridges. A private ferry had operated at that location. The bridge had been named after Calvin John Ward, from Morristown, who was the most decorated WWI veteran with twelve awards (one of which was the Congressional Medal of Honor). Nearby was the toll collector’s house. The bridge was advertised as being open 24 hours a day and the cost to cross the bridge was $0.50. In 1939, the toll was removed, and it became a free bridge. In preparation for Watts Bar Dam, the bridge was raised and lengthened. The toll collector’s house was relocated. It is currently located across from Bethel Presbyterian Church in Kingston and until recently was the home of the late Bobby Allen. According to the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), it is only one of two known toll collector’s houses still standing in Tennessee.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, June 2014.