Anderson County has a proud history and a very bright future. Indians first ventured into the northwestern rim of the Great Valley as early as the 1400’s. White explorers and long hunters, like Daniel Boone, first ventured across the wild and rugged Cumberland Mountains and down the untamed Clinch River in the 1770’s. Anderson County was originally a part of Knox County, that single county once extended all the way to the Kentucky border. But by 1801, there were enough people in the region above Copper Ridge and Poplar Creek to warrant the establishment of a new county, named Anderson for Judge Joseph Anderson. A county seat was decreed and built that year, near a popular spring and ford on the north side of the Clinch River. The town was originally named Burrville for Aaron Burr, but in 1809, in the wake of Burr’s disgrace, it was renamed Clinton for Thomas Jefferson’s vice president, George Clinton. For the next sixty years, the county grew only slowly, the people endured the hard soil and enjoyed the honest pleasures of a simple, almost primitive rural/agricultural lifestyle.
The county suffered great turmoil and desolation during the Civil War years. But change came rapidly in the decades following the war, agriculture resumed and the county prospered.
The mining of coal in the mountains developed into a major industry. Life was hard, with long hours of toil and regular loss of life in cave-ins and other disasters. The coal industry has declined in recent years, but the sturdy descendants of these mineworkers, still living in the old communities, are a living heritage of this demanding way of life.
The industry brought growth to Clinton. The railroad from Knoxville to the coal fields reached Clinton in 1869, it provided the town with easy ingress and egress for what had been an isolated area. There was steady commercial and industrial growth.
The face of Anderson County changed in 1934 when the Tennessee Valley Authority, chose a site near Coal Creek to build its first major dam.
The project provided thousands of jobs during the heart of the depression. However, many families suffered the tragedy of forced evacuation, the communities were dismantled and moved to make way for the coming reservoir.
In 1936, the town of Coal Creek gained the new name of Lake City. The quaint new town of Norris was established, and a major fishing and recreation lake was formed which laid the foundation for the Anderson County water recreation industry.
When Oak Ridge was established in 1942 drastic change came to Anderson County. At the height of World War II, thousands of construction workers, technicians, and top nuclear physicists were brought to the huge complex.
There were three large plants built, along with administrative buildings, barracks, houses, churches, stores and other facilities. The facilities were not built until the dropping of the atomic bombs in 1945, which brought an end to the war with Japan.
The plants at Oak Ridge remained in operation as research and nuclear production centers. Many of the workers stayed, started families and continued the community life.
Anderson County has a number of special assets, which make life here uniquely rich, rewarding and satisfying. The sheer beauty of the area is an asset. Both the natural splendor of the mountains and rivers, and the manmade enhancements of the TVA lakes at Norris and Melton Hill contribute to the areas intense appeal. The largest asset of Anderson County is the amazing mix of people who have come here from various phases of the county’s development and joined together to form a fascinating, diverse and stimulating community.
Located at the edge of the rugged Cumberland Mountains in East Tennessee, it is easily accessible from three exits along interstate 75 and several highways branching from interstate 40. Anderson County is located at the approximate population center of the United States and within a one day’s drive to roughly 76 percent of the U.S. population.
The Community is served by one of the best major north/south-east/west transportation corridors in America, including interstates 75, 40, and 81.
Anderson County has a very unique situation regarding labor. The prevailing background of our work force is mining, timbering, and agriculture. People learn to work early in life and demonstrate one of the highest work ethics in the U.S. The people include farmers, merchants, doctors, lawyers, bankers, salesmen, and others who have built and maintained a prosperous commercial and community life in the various towns around the county.
Among those scientists and technicians of international distinction, who literally came from all over the world to work at the Oak Ridge plants, several decided to make their home among our beautiful mountains and friendly people.
The people are community minded and that community life centers on neighbors, churches, civic clubs, schools, sports, and the arts. Anderson County supports the arts of the community with numerous shows and festivals featuring the old style crafts and the traditional fiddle and banjo music. There are many practitioners. The more contemporary forms also enjoy their devotees. Choral, drama, dance and the literary groups abound.
Oak Ridge supports a local symphony, a ballet, several museums, and a top-flight community theater and other entertainment opportunities.
Anderson County school systems rank in the top five in Tennessee and the top ten nationally. The area has the fourth highest concentration of PH.D’s in the U.S. and an abundance of community/industry research facilities. Anderson County has three public school systems. Anderson County Schools are operated by the county, the City of Clinton operates Clinton Schools, and Oak Ridge Schools are operated by the City of Oak Ridge. Each district has a central office, headed by a superintendent or director, who manages elementary and secondary education within the jurisdiction.
Anderson County School District is the largest of the three public school systems in the county. There are nine elementary schools, four middle schools, two high schools and a vocational/technical center.
Special Education staff includes a number of certified teachers, aides, an occupational therapist, physical therapist, audiologist, vision specialist, psychologists, and a homebound instructor. Programs are available for the deaf, hearing impaired, blind, visually impaired, learning disabled, speech, language deficient, developmentally delayed, and the gifted.
Anderson County Career & Technical Center primarily serves secondary students from Anderson County High School and Clinton High School. The center is mandated to the goal of education and training of secondary students as well as training and retraining adults for competitive level job skills.
Programs that are available include electronics, automotive-related, health care, office technology, cosmetology, marketing, building trades, computerized machining, drafting, and agricultural. After completion of two years of a program students are eligible to enter cooperative employment. Many classes are available in the evening.
Roane State Community College has a branch campus in Oak Ridge and a main campus in nearby Roane County. In partnership with Tennessee Technological University, Roane State operates off-campus Centers of Higher Education in Campbell, Cumberland, Loudon, and Scott counties and a Health Sciences Center in Knoxville. Off-campus courses are taught in Morgan, Fentress, and Knox counties. The two-year college parallels university programs for transfer to four-year institutions, career preparation programs, and customized programs for business and industry.
Pellissippi State Technical Community College provides two-year college technical education and industrial training. Pellissippi State is only a few minutes south on the Pellissippi Parkway at 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The college offers the Associate of Arts degree, which guarantees admission to the University of Tennessee.
Tennessee Technology Center at Harriman, a short drive from Oliver Springs on the Harriman Highway (27N), offers adult technological training programs designed to meet the needs of business and industry.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the state’s flagship university, is an easy commute. UT is one of America’s top 100 research universities with 15 academic colleges and schools and more than 300-degree programs. More than 6,000 students are enrolled in graduate degree programs in many fields.
Oak Ridge offers one of the finest rowing facilities in the country. The Oak Ridge Rowing Association can be contacted at 865-482-6538.
The Oak Ridge Senior Center offers opportunities for recreation, information, volunteerism, education, health screening, physical fitness, and provides a meeting place for many community senior citizen organizations and an information source on programs/services available to the elderly.