Friday, April 11, 2008

April 11, 2008 Heiskell, TN and Oak Ridge, TN

This was a full day. We started out going to Oak Ridge, TN. This is the home of The Manhattan Project - the World War II project that originated, tested and perfected the atomic bomb that was used to end the war. On the way, we once again passed the beautiful lavender bushes that are all along the highways in this area. We came to a bridge that crossed our road that looked like it had seen its better days BEFORE the Manhattan Project. At the American Museum of Science and Energy, there were demonstrations and attractions that explained and demonstrated life in Oak Ridge during the war. Oak Ridge was called the Clinton Engineer Works during the war and was named Oak Ridge after the war. It was 60,000 acres surrounded by a barbed wire fence, guards and gates. It became the fifth largest city in Tennessee with 75,000 workers. The project consumed one-seventh of the electricity used in the United States during this time. There were very few automobiles so the bus transportation system became the fourth largest in the U.S. Workers, both military and non-military, were sworn to secrecy and could not tell anyone why they were there or what they were doing. This was a self contained city with schools, stores, entertainment, stores, et al. It was so secret that many did not even know what they were doing - if this light goes on, flip this switch, for example. Today, this is still at the forefront for energy and weapons creation, testing and utilization, relied upon by the military and civilian sectors alike. When we left, we passed a station of the gigantic TVA, The Tennessee Valley Authority. This is a massive electrical power producer covering much of the south. This area is on sort of a plateau between mountainous areas. Heavy, dangerous storms were approaching from the west. Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms had raked Nashville and Memphis and there were watches and warnings all over.The wind picked up with gusts over 40 MPH and rain started falling very hard. The wind and boomers have left but it is still raining. We walked in the rain down to the clubhouse in the campground and listened to The Bushy Valley Boys pickin' and singin'. The Bushy Valley Boys actually consist of two guys and two gals, three guitars and a string base.They all sing and a good time was had by all. This started out as a pot luck but, since it was raining hard, we ate at home. When we arrived, we were told several times to "eat up" but we didn't. Because of this changing weather, we will stay another night here before going on to Berea, KY on Sunday. Tomorrow night here is supposed to go down to 34 degrees and then 32 Sunday night in Berea. We are being prepared for our Michigan return.

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