70 Mile Drive Brings Deeper Appreciation for Union County History
Yesterday, Jim and I got cabin fever and I came up with the idea of taking a drive in the country to get to know the area. My goal was to visit the town of Luttrell, TN. My friend Julie had mentioned it and I wanted to see it to be able to join the conversation. The plan was to take 25E out of Tazewell, circle around on a country road that ran parallel somewhat to 33, and head back through Maynardville.
We started out taking the alternate route out of Sharps Chapel that I had written about in a previous post. It is pure country, with lots of narrow, winding roads. It ended up exactly opposite the entrance to Rock Harbor development on 33. I could see this as a nice alternative route home on a sunny, summer day.
25E out of Tazewell was surprisingly scenic — the 5-lane road was in excellent condition and the mountains and rolling hills were beautiful. We crossed the Clinch River, which feeds Norris Lake. I fantasized about taking the boat from Norris Lake up the river until Jim pointed out the rapids. Minor detail. Oh well.
We turned onto 131 S towards Luttrell. 131 is fittingly also called “Mountain Valley Highway” as it follows a beautiful ridge of mountains. We came upon a small town that I thought was Luttrell, but turned out to be Washburn, TN. The main building of significance was the huge public school. I couldn’t help but wonder what made this area develop into a little town. There was and is a railroad that parallels the road, so perhaps it had more significance in the past.
When we finally got to Luttrell, we noticed the Town Hall with a sign proudly posted stating that this was the birthplace of Chet Atkins and Kenny Chesney. I am a lover of bluegrass, but am not familiar with the country music of these two legends, so I have another avenue to explore.
When we got to Maynardville, we stopped at the public library to check it out. We met the librarian Chantay Collins, who was extremely friendly and helpful. Before we left, we picked up a free copy of the Union County Shopper News.
Well, imagine my surprise, as I read the Union County Shopper News the next day, as everything that I had seen and experienced the previous day seemed to come to life!
- I see a reference and photo of Chantay Collins being a member of the Union County Business and Professional Association. That organization recently awarded Shirleee Grabko, a local realtor, the Woman of the Year award. Not pictured in the same photo was someone with the family name of “Chesney”.
- Also included was an article on historical figures from the area that hilighted Dr. Herbert Acuff, born in Washburn, TN. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was related to Roy Acuff, who was born in Maynardville, TN.
Jim heard somewhere that when you meet someone new around here, they first thing they ask you is “who is your family”? I can understand this now. There are some longtime family names around here that are very much alive and well. Family truly is the “glue that binds”. They can be proud of their history.
Life is an adventure!