The last Oak Ridge Reservation Nature Walk of 2019 will be held at the historic Freels cabin—the oldest structure in Oak Ridge—on Saturday.
The cabin is on Freels Bend near Melton Hill Lake in south Oak Ridge, east of Clark Center Park. It was built in 1844, and it’s been reported to be on the National Historic Register.
The opportunities to see the cabin are rare because it’s on restricted U.S. Department of Energy land.
Saturday’s walk is titled “History of the Oak Ridge Reservation—Freels Bend.” Registered walkers will meet at 1 p.m. in the parking lot behind the ORISE building at the corner of Bethel Valley and Pumphouse roads, a press release said.
Walking will be through fields and over level dirt and gravel roads (limited distances). Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring sunscreen, bug spray, and water, the press release said.
Hosted by Mick Wiest, the walk will be held at the historic Freels cabin, which will be open for touring. Limit: 20 (children are allowed); no pets please.
Wiest will discuss the history of the Oak Ridge Reservation and the families that lived in the area. The tour ends at 3 p.m.
Reservations for the walk must be made in advance by contacting Tracy Clem at (865) 574-5151 or [email protected]. If the weather forces the walk to be postponed, it will be announced on ORNL’s Information Line at (865) 574-9836 (i.e. 574-XTEN) at least two hours before the scheduled start of the walk, the press release said.
Oak Ridge was built during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project, a federal program to build the world’s first atomic weapons, and there are only a handful of pre-war buildings that remain in the city, including the Freels Bend cabin. Another is a one-story stone bungalow at 151 Oak Ridge Turnpike known as the Luther Brannon House, and there are two churches that pre-date the construction of Oak Ridge: the George Jones Memorial Baptist Church in the former Wheat community in west Oak Ridge and the New Bethel Baptist Church on Bethel Valley Road near Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
One hundred eighty of the pre-World War II houses were used to alleviate the severe housing shortage on the 59,000-acre military reservation in Oak Ridge during World War II. The city’s population quickly swelled to 75,000 during the frenzied top-secret effort to build the world’s first atomic bombs, and homes, businesses, and military activities replaced acres of farmland and several rural communities. Almost all of the remaining pre-World War II homes were torn down after the war.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
You can contact John Huotari, owner and publisher of Oak Ridge Today, at (865) 951-9692 or [email protected]
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