The Secret

Trip Start Apr 03, 1996
Trip End Apr 04, 1996

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Wednesday, April 3, 1996

Oak Ridge, Tennessee, population 27,310.

Secret City invites one and all to visit now -- start at the American Museum of Science & Energy and watch the slide show telling The Oak Ridge Story. You'll learn how these hidden hills became the secret site of part of the Manhattan Project during WWII, at one time housing over 75,000 people working on this wartime effort. The museum is fabulous, with live demonstrations and over 200 interactive exhibits. It's all about ENERGY -- Einstein's picture overlooks the area, where you'll learn about everything from Atoms to Quarks. A must for school groups, or any science-loving kids and adults who are fascinated by "what makes things work." They will even tailor demonstrations and films for a specific age group if you call ahead to arrange.

In connection with the Manhattan Project, you also are allowed to visit the Historic Graphite Reactor. The world's oldest nuclear reactor, it was built during World War II and later used for peacetime applications. Active until 1963, it's a National Historic Landmark and is open daily. Down the road in tiny New Bethel Church you can see pictures and mementos of the Old Bethel community before Oak Ridge was built. Other "energy" attractions are the Oak Ridge National Laboratory from the Visitor's Overlook, the US Department of Energy's largest energy laboratory; and TVA's coal-fired Bull Run Steam Plant; all easy to find following the Oak Ridge Self Guided Driving Tour.

Art, history and science are presented for children and adults at the Children's Museum of Oak Ridge with major emphasis on the Appalachian region. There's a permanent collection of contemporary international artists and changing exhibits of local and regional artists at the Oak Ridge Art Center, home of the Gomez collection of 60 works by contemporary artists. And you can enjoy nature's artistry at the UT Arboretum, where trails wind through 250 acres in this forestry experimental station and arboretum. Displays at the on-site Visitor's Center and trails open 8 AM to sunset.

Jackson Square Historic Park is the original townsite of Oak Ridge. It's now a retail area, with craft shops, a playhouse, and several nice restaurants; kiosks display photographs of early city scenes and tell the story of John Hendrix, a turn-of-the-century visionary who prophesied the beginnings of Oak Ridge.

Head south by Melton Hill Dam & Lake on the Clinch River; there are campsites, a picnic area, swimming and boat ramp, and an observatory visitors center.
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