In the late 1700’s, the settlers chose Roane County for its prime location. The settlers established and constructed Fort Southwest Point on a high bluff overlooking the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers. The fort served as a stopping point on the Avery Trace, connecting the cities of Knoxville and Nashville.
The city of Kingston was established in 1799 as a result of the growing population around Fort Southwest Point. An Army garrison between 1792 and 1807, the fort was surrounded by several trading posts, and provided a protected environment for the convergence of southeastern trade routes at the mouth of the Clinch River. On September 21, 1807, Kingston served as the state capital for one day, and the Tennessee House of Representatives convened here. With a growing population, in the mid 1800’s a courthouse was built by slaves using bricks made by hand on site.
After the Civil War, a Union Officer, John Wilder discovered an abundance of iron on Walden Ridge in Roane County. He later returned with Northern industrialists to form the Roane Iron Company in 1868. The population grew, and the city of Rockwood was named after the company’s first president, William O. Rockwood.
Harriman was a utopian community built on social temperance. Former Methodist minister and founder of the East Tennessee Land Company, Frederick Gates, envisioned a town of social temperance and industry where no manufacture storage or sales of intoxicating liqueur or beverages would take place. He advertised his idea across the county, and thousands came to the 1890 Great Land Sale. The sale was a success, and the city of Harriman was formed. The American Temperance University was founded in 1893, moved into the building previously owned by the Land Company.
Situated in the northern corner of Roane County, Oliver Springs was founded in 1830 as Winter’s Gap, so named for its first white settler, Major Moses Winter. Archaeological evidence suggests that Native Americans frequently used the area as a campsite, probably because of its natural mineral springs and abundance of wildlife on Windrock Mountain. The town’s name was later changed to Oliver Springs in honor of Richard Oliver.
Oak Ridge is one of East Tennessee’s newest cities. It was formed in 1942 when the United States Government constructed two extensive facilities in East Roane to house part of the massive World War II effort known as the Manhattan Project, responsible for building the world’s first atomic bomb. The graphite reactor on the Oak Ridge Reservation is the world’s oldest continuously operated nuclear reactor.
The County is served by two excellent school systems, the Roane County School System and the Harriman City School System. Both systems have achieved the Governor’s A+ Award for Community Commitment to Excellence in Education for five consecutive years. The A+ award, which was established by the State of Tennessee, recognizes our entire community, as well as our schools, for placing high emphasis on quality education. We are one of 47 A+ communities in Tennessee and are two of 60 school systems, out of 139 systems in the State to have achieved A+ status.
Roane State Community College is a place where you’ll find friends and faculty alike who speak your language and value your ideas. It is a community where learning is a “shared” experience and where your instructors help you reach your educational goals, where they are always available to answer your questions in class, during normal office hours, or through your very own personal e-mail account.
There are many area museums and galleries, two nearby symphony orchestras, a choral group, and a community-wide band. The County also has ballet, theater, and craft centers. For those with a literary bent, the cities of Harriman, Kingston, Oliver Springs, and Rockwood each have an excellent public library.
Because of the natural attractions of the area, most residents spend a good deal of leisure time outdoors. Golf, bird watching, fishing, hiking, hunting, boating, picnicking, these are examples of the outdoor activities within easy reach of Roane Countians.