Built in 1844, the Freels Bend Cabin is the oldest structure in Oak Ridge, and Ruby Shanks lived there for a few years in the 1940s, when she was a teenager.
“It was a beautiful place,” Shanks told historic preservationists during a meeting at the cabin in south Oak Ridge last week. “We loved it.”
The unusual setting for last week’s Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association meeting gave about 60 people a rare opportunity to see the cabin, which is on restricted U.S. Department of Energy land.
When family member Louise Freels was unable to speak at the meeting, Shanks filled in.
Shanks said she and her parents and four siblings lived in the cabin for about two years starting in October 1941. They had no running water, fished in the Clinch River, and raised cattle and horses. The children had to trek a long distance, all the way from Freels Bend to where a stoplight is now located at Y-12 National Security Complex, just to catch their school bus.
Her father was a farmer and miner who worked for Roane-Anderson Company during World War II. She recalled plucking chickens for 50 cents an hour.
ORHPA board member Mick Wiest said the Freels Bend Cabin is on the National Historic Register.
“It is one of our historic jewels,” Wiest said.
During the tour, which included a drive around Freels Bend, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wildlife manager Jim Evans talked about the history of the Three Bend Scenic and Wildlife Management Refuge Area as well as ongoing conservation work.
Evans said the work includes initiatives to get rid of exotic plants, grow native grasses, and manage wildlife such as deer and Canadian geese.