Eastbound visitors to our region likely enter through Roane County. Traveling along 1-40 atop Walden Ridge, drivers can look out southeast across the county, looking down upon the towns of Rockwood, Cardiff, Harriman, and, in the distance, Kingston. Like its sister county, Anderson, Roane County was greatly affected by the Manhattan Project of the 1940s, and also by the technological development that followed.
The K-25 plant is located in the north part of the county. K-25, along with the Y-12 and X-10 sites, were instrumental to the war’s Manhattan Project. Deconstruction and long-term remediation have transformed the site, now known as the East Tennessee Technology Park.
Roane is a strong economic driver for our region. Located along the transit spine of the state, it boasts an individual income per capita of $37,441, compared to the regional average of $33,612. Area Roane State Community College is known for building partnerships between technology focused industries and local workforce applicants.
In terms of natural features, Roane county bridges the Cumberland Escarpment and the Tennessee Valley. There is an abundance of water. In fact, almost nine percent of Roane county’s geographic area is water! The Clinch, Emory, and Tennessee Rivers are impounded in the county creating Watts Bar Lake, instrumental in providing an abundance of energy to assist in the Manhattan Project effort. Today, Watts Bar attracts lake recreationists while still providing plentiful energy for the region. A Coal Ash Spill occurred at the Kingston Plant in 2008, resulting in changes to regulations on how fly ash from power plants is handled.
Roane Tourism Alliance recently began the Soak in Roane campaign to help promote Roane County and Watts Bar Lake. If you’re planning on sight seeing in Roane, you should check it out. You just might win a prize!