South Knox Ridgetops Bad News: A Shining Water Tower Upon a Hill
It all began with KUB’s South Knox water tower. That 500,000 gallon behemoth that overlooks our city was approved and nearly completed without a whole lot of fuss. But then, all of a sudden, something occurred to a few of our city officials. Then they looked around and realized there’s some weird looking developments around here. That driveway is awful steep, they said. And didn’t there used to be a hill over there? With trees on it and stuff? What happened to that?
Heeey, they thought, maybe the hillsides and ridgetops here are an actual resource. Maybe we should have some sort of set of guidelines about how and where developers can screw around with those hills. And thus was born the Joint City-County Task Force on Ridge, Slope, and Hillside Development and Protection.
The task force, chaired by City Councilman Joe Hultquist and County Commissioner Tony Norman, has been working on a development policy for Knox County’s unique geography. (About one-third of the land in the county is on a 15 percent or greater slope.) It’s been meeting about once every six weeks since the summer. When it’s completed—task force members aren’t sure how long it will take—the final ordinance may include regulations that would reduce road widths, place limitations on hillside grading, and reduce permitted building heights.
South Knox Ridgetops Good News: Civil War Forts Saved
Log Haven is an agreeably odd cluster of log cabins arranged along a suburban-style cul-de-sac in a wooded section of South Knoxville between Vestal and the river. Maybe a four-minute drive from downtown, it always seemed a surreal sort of experience in the middle of a city. Not surprisingly, it had been threatened by various development projects until 100 acres of it was bought by the charitable Aslan Foundation, founded as a legacy of philanthropist Lindsay Young, who died in his 90s in 2006. The purchase also saved an obscure Civil War ruin, the small Union earthwork known as Fort Higley, one of several forts built quickly in 1863 to fend off the anticipated Confederate siege.
Three such forts exist on the ridgetops of South Knoxville. In the fall, the vigorous Legacy Parks Foundation announced it would move to preserve all three—Higley, the well-known Fort Dickerson, and the rarely seen Fort Stanley, to the east of the others—and link them via a hiking trail that would eventually reach all the way to Ijams Nature Center, a couple of miles away. Why didn’t General Burnside think of that? We’re not sure, but when completed, the three-fort hike will present Knoxville with an extremely unusual historical amenity.
History Makes a Comeback
Half a decade after it closed for the expansion and renovation of the History Center, the East Tennessee History Museum finally reopened in August, on the ground floor of what was Knoxville’s post office during the Gilded Age. With several interactive audio and video features, it’s much more modern and busy than the old exhibit was, and spreading across a larger section of the building, it has more square footage than ever—but still bursting at the seams, as it probably would be at any size. We, as a culture, never throw anything away. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there—a car, a cabin, a wagon, lots of historic pharmaceuticals, and a Dolly blouse. Early indications are that it’s a hit.