The East Tennessee Region is excited to host the 2023 Southeastern Divisional Tour, on April 30th – May 3rd.
The 2023 Southeastern Divisional Tour will explore the rich history of a secret city that was constructed as a part of the Manhattan Project. There, scientist Robert Oppenheimer led the effort to produce enough enriched uranium to build the first atomic bomb. The work was performed in secret, in an area that is now known as Oak Ridge.
We will visit the landmarks that define the “Secret City,” hear from historians with extensive knowledge of the area and enjoy the natural beauty of the East Tennessee countryside.
We will enjoy morning coffee breaks along the shore of Melton Lake, at Fort Loudon State Park, and in Oak Ridge’s historic Jackson Square.
Each day of the tour will feature a stop at one of the three museums dedicated to the history of Oak Ridge, it’s role in ending World War II, and the cutting-edge nuclear technology that is still being developed in the region.
Along the way, we will visit Norris Dam, the first dam built by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and we’ll enjoy lunch at the picturesque Museum of Appalachia.
We will drive through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and enjoy breathtaking views. We’ll have lunch at the Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, where we will learn about the important work of the Appalachian Bear Rescue organization.
We will also visit the infamous Brushy Mountain State Prison, a foreboding fortress surrounded by mountains that once housed the country’s most dangerous criminals, including assassin James Earl Ray.
The third afternoon of the tour will feature an ice cream social and car display in Oak Ridge’s Bissell Park, where our guests will enjoy fellowship, East Tennessee hospitality, and an assortment of antique cars owned by area residents. Visitors will have the opportunity to ring the 8,000-pound International Friendship bell; a bronze memorial, cast with images that symbolize the peace and friendship shared by Japan and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The park also features the Secret City Commemorative Walk, which chronicles the major events that occurred during the Second World War.
The tour will conclude with a banquet featuring author and local humorist, Sam Venable.
The East Tennessee Region is looking forward to hosting AACA members from across the country, as together we explore East Tennessee and discover the secrets of the Secret City!