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Frame The Importance of

Commercial Truck Insurance in Oak Ridge, TN

  • Let's face it - truckers in America have always been the backbone of our great country. They still are in modern times. On any given day, thousands of trucks traverse our highways and local roads, delivering goods and products on time so that businesses and consumers have what they need to live life. And while commercial trucking can be an incredibly lucrative way to make a living and put food on the table, it can also be risky and expensive.
  • Whether you're the owner of a fleet, an independent trucker, or have a business that uses big rigs to transport goods, you need commercial trucking insurance to protect you and your client's investments, shield you from liability, and more.
  • That's where working with a reliable truck insurance agency comes into play. Unfortunately, for many commercial truck insurance providers, serving the needs of truckers is low on the proverbial totem pole. At Independence Insurance Agency, nothing could be further from the truth.

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Insurance Agency in Oak Ridge, TN You Can Trust

Much like you pride yourself on running a successful trucking business, Independence Insurance Agency prides itself on its years of experience providing truck insurance for hardworking men and women across the country. And in our experience, insurance rates for truckers are just too high - so high, in fact, that they eat away at their bottom line, making it more difficult to run a business and make a profit. Fortunately, at Independence Insurance Agency, we provide truckers the freedom they need from astronomically high insurance rates so they can stay on the road and keep driving America forward.

As one of the most trusted commercial trucking insurance agencies in the U.S., we understand the challenges that you face daily as a trucker. We also know how important it is to protect your business. That's why we go above and beyond to find you the best-priced coverage available, whether you're an operator, own a small fleet, a large fleet, or something in between.

Commercial Truck Insurance Oak Ridge, TN

We Put Truckers First Because Others Don't

 Truck Insurance Oak Ridge, TN

Truckers across the country choose to work with Independence Insurance Agency because we put their needs first before anything else. As experts in transportation insurance, we proudly offer a range of quality insurance products that are both practical and affordable for them. Our industry-leading carriers provide coverage that caters to the unique challenges faced by the trucking industry, ensuring that your business is protected at all times.

At our core, we are committed to finding the best possible price for your coverage without compromising the quality of service you deserve. The truth is, we understand how essential truckers are to the United States and take pride in making their insurance experience more streamlined and affordable.

One way we do so is by simplifying the insurance process. Our transportation specialists take the time to understand your specific needs and budget to tailor a comprehensive plan that works for you. You won't ever have to worry about cookie-cutter plans or uninterested agents when you work with our commercial trucking insurance agency. We take an educational approach to ensure that the entire big rig insurance process is quick, painless, and easy to understand. If there's something you don't understand, we're happy to take the time to explain. After all, the success and safety of your business are on the line.

Looking to the future, we are committed to providing innovative new products that cater to the ever-changing needs of truck drivers. As your one-stop shop for commercial trucking insurance, we are dedicated to your success, one policy at a time.

If you're a commercial trucker looking to ensure your rig, you can rest easy knowing that Independence Insurance Agency provides:

  • Affordable Trucking Insurance Plans for Any Budget
  • Exemplary Customer Service
  • Seasoned Transportation Specialists Who Customize Plans to Your Needs
  • A+ Carriers Across the Country
  • Simple, Easy Quote and Bind Process
  • Multiple Insurance Carriers Quoted to Find You the Best Rates
  • Truck Insurance for New Ventures

Call us or send us a message today to learn more about the best 18-wheeler insurance options for your trucking business.

chart The Commercial Truck

Common Types of Big Rig Truck Insurance in Oak Ridge, TN

At Independence Insurance Agency, we offer several types of insurance coverage for local, intermediate, and long-haul trucking needs. Here are just a few categories of trucking insurance coverage that our agency offers.

As the foundation of your insurance policy, liability coverage is required by law in most states in the U.S. It provides coverage for damage or injuries caused to properties or other people if your 18-wheeler is responsible for the crash. Without liability coverage, it's almost impossible to drive a truck or run a trucking business without major legal consequences.

Having physical damage coverage is an essential component that shouldn't be overlooked. This insurance is responsible for covering the expenses related to repairing or replacing your truck in situations such as accidents, theft, vandalism, and other damaging events. By having this coverage, you can rest assured that your business won't be affected significantly by unexpected incidents, and you can continue running your operations smoothly even in challenging times.

For trucking companies, the goods they transport are crucial to their operations. To protect these goods from damage, loss, or theft while in transit, cargo insurance is essential. This coverage provides much-needed peace of mind for both you and your clients, allowing you to reimburse clients for any losses sustained while protecting your reputation and brand identity.

Non-Trucking Liability Insurance is designed to cover property damage or bodily injury that may occur during personal time when the driver/truck is not under dispatch. This coverage can be applied with or without a trailer and is added to a commercial policy as an endorsement.

While Independence Insurance Agency has built a reputation of excellence in serving the needs of truckers, we also offer general liability. Also known as Truckers General Liability, this coverage insures for bodily injuries or property damage that happen due to business activities that are NOT the cause of operating a truck. It covers accidents that occur in parking lots, rest stops, also while loading or unloading. General liability can also cover losses related to theft and vandalism. Most brokers and shippers will require this coverage to work with you.

Bobtail insurance is a type of coverage that is comparable to non-trucking liability, which is designed to offer protection when driving a truck without a trailer attached. This is commonly referred to as "bobtailing." With bobtail insurance, the tractor is covered at all times, even when it is not attached to a trailer, regardless of whether or not the truck is under dispatch.

Trailer interchange insurance is a must-have if you're involved in a trailer interchange agreement. This essential coverage offers protection for trailers owned by other parties that you're using under a contractual agreement. It covers damages caused by collisions, fire, theft, and vandalism, providing assurance to all parties involved.

Curious whether our commercial truck insurance agency in cityname, state offers additional coverage? The following options can be bound in your insurance policy:

  • Business Interruption Insurance
  • Reefer Breakdown Insurance
  • Occupational Accident with Contract Liability Insurance
  • Rental Reimbursement Insurance
  • Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Insurance
  • Towing Insurance
  • Electronics Insurance
  • Much More

Three plus 3 Safe Driving Tips to

Lower the Cost of Truck Insurance in Oak Ridge, TN

Keeping your drivers safe on the road is crucial not only for their own well-being but also for the safety of other motorists and the financial stability of your business. The Department of Labor has identified the trucking industry as one of the most hazardous sectors in the U.S. In fact, trucking and logistics fleets are known for their high injury and fatality rates. By improving how safely your truckers drive, you can help reduce expenses related to claim payouts, accidents, and insurance premium hikes.

Whether you own a large fleet or you're the owner and operator of a single rig, keep these safe driving tips in mind to help lower your insurance costs.

Implement Preventative Maintenance Plans

Ensuring the safety of your drivers begins with the safety of their vehicles. Trucks and tractor-trailers that do not receive regular maintenance, such as oil and brake pad changes, are more likely to experience breakdowns while on the road. Telematics devices provide real-time insight into engine and odometer data, including fault codes.

This information enables your mechanics to create comprehensive preventative maintenance schedules based on mileage, history of previous breakdowns, days, and more. Additionally, they can receive immediate notifications for critical fault codes. By implementing routine maintenance and proactive repair schedules, you can ensure that your vehicles are in top condition, minimizing the likelihood of breakdowns, which can help reduce the cost of trucker insurance.

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 Trucking Insurance Oak Ridge, TN

Practice Defensive Driving

This approach aims to mitigate the risk of fatal crashes and injuries by proactively identifying and responding to potentially dangerous situations and making informed decisions while driving. By adopting defensive driving techniques, drivers can reduce their likelihood of accidents, thereby minimizing the need for expensive repairs, claim payouts, and increased insurance premiums.

Some of the easiest ways for you or your drivers to practice safe driving include:

  • Be Wary of Blind Spots: Operating a reefer or tractor-trailer means driving high off of the ground, which can make visibility limited, especially in blind spots. To check your blind spot, look over your shoulder and out of your windows while changing lanes.
  • Be Ready for Emergencies on the Road: It's important for drivers to be ready for unexpected situations when driving, especially during long trips. They should be equipped to handle emergencies such as poor driving conditions or big rig breakdowns.
  • Use the Three-Second Rule: Truck drivers should try to maintain a three-second gap between their vehicle and the car in front of them. This means that the truck driver should reach a certain point on the road three seconds after the car in front of them has passed that same point.
  • Always Use Right and Left Turn Indicators: It's important for drivers to always use their turn signals when changing lanes or exiting highways, even if they don't see any other cars around. This is not only required by law, but it also reduces the chances of accidents occurring on the road.
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 Commercial Liability Insurance For Truckers Oak Ridge, TN

Find Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), distracted driving is the primary reason behind truck driver accidents. Any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road or the steering wheel is considered distracted driving. Distractions can come in various forms, such as eating while driving or gazing at a billboard outside the window. However, the most frequent form of distracted driving is the use of cellphones, specifically texting while driving.

Assuming you or your driver's rigs are equipped with dual-facing cameras, try reviewing footage of an unsafe driving incident. Coach your drivers on ways to correct their unsafe behaviors or look up ways to do so yourself if you're the one operating the big rig. The bottom line is that when your drivers aren't distracted, they drive safer. And when they drive safer, the cost of 18-wheeler insurance in cityname, state can be reduced.

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 Commercial Truck Insurance Quote Oak Ridge, TN

Ensuring the safety of your drivers begins with the safety of their vehicles. Trucks and tractor-trailers that do not receive regular maintenance, such as oil and brake pad changes, are more likely to experience breakdowns while on the road. Telematics devices provide real-time insight into engine and odometer data, including fault codes.

This information enables your mechanics to create comprehensive preventative maintenance schedules based on mileage, history of previous breakdowns, days, and more. Additionally, they can receive immediate notifications for critical fault codes. By implementing routine maintenance and proactive repair schedules, you can ensure that your vehicles are in top condition, minimizing the likelihood of breakdowns, which can help reduce the cost of trucker insurance.

 Low Priced Commercial Truck Insurance Oak Ridge, TN phone Call Now

This approach aims to mitigate the risk of fatal crashes and injuries by proactively identifying and responding to potentially dangerous situations and making informed decisions while driving. By adopting defensive driving techniques, drivers can reduce their likelihood of accidents, thereby minimizing the need for expensive repairs, claim payouts, and increased insurance premiums.

Some of the easiest ways for you or your drivers to practice safe driving include:

  • Be Wary of Blind Spots: Operating a reefer or tractor-trailer means driving high off of the ground, which can make visibility limited, especially in blind spots. To check your blind spot, look over your shoulder and out of your windows while changing lanes.
  • Be Ready for Emergencies on the Road: It's important for drivers to be ready for unexpected situations when driving, especially during long trips. They should be equipped to handle emergencies such as poor driving conditions or big rig breakdowns.
  • Use the Three-Second Rule: Truck drivers should try to maintain a three-second gap between their vehicle and the car in front of them. This means that the truck driver should reach a certain point on the road three seconds after the car in front of them has passed that same point.
  • Always Use Right and Left Turn Indicators: It's important for drivers to always use their turn signals when changing lanes or exiting highways, even if they don't see any other cars around. This is not only required by law, but it also reduces the chances of accidents occurring on the road.
Commercial Truck Insurance Oak Ridge, TN phone Call Now

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), distracted driving is the primary reason behind truck driver accidents. Any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road or the steering wheel is considered distracted driving. Distractions can come in various forms, such as eating while driving or gazing at a billboard outside the window. However, the most frequent form of distracted driving is the use of cellphones, specifically texting while driving.

Assuming you or your driver's rigs are equipped with dual-facing cameras, try reviewing footage of an unsafe driving incident. Coach your drivers on ways to correct their unsafe behaviors or look up ways to do so yourself if you're the one operating the big rig. The bottom line is that when your drivers aren't distracted, they drive safer. And when they drive safer, the cost of 18-wheeler insurance in cityname, state can be reduced.

 Truck Insurance Oak Ridge, TN phone Call Now

check light FAQs About

Independence Insurance Agency

If you're looking for a commercial trucking insurance agency for your business, chances are you have some questions - and we've got answers. Keep reading to learn more about some of the most commonly asked questions we hear from truckers like you.

Why go with a "jack of all trades" when you can work with specialists who focus exclusively on transportation insurance? We have excellent relationships with major trucking insurance carriers and, as such, can provide the best assistance and reasonable rates.

Typically, companies will look at claims that date back three years or less.

We proudly work with more than 20 carriers to provide our clients with the most advantageous options at competitive prices, catering to the needs of owner-operators and big fleets alike.

Permit filings are typically done by insurance companies on the next business day. Federal (FMCSA) filings are completed online and updated immediately, while some states may take up to three weeks to process.

Independence Insurance Agency: Committed to the Trucking Industry

There's no question about it - you've got to protect your staff, your rig, and your trucking business with insurance. But choosing the right insurance partner isn't always easy. Thankfully, with Independence Insurance Agency by your side, you can rest easy knowing you're covered no matter where the road takes you. If you're in need of a commercial truck insurance agency in Oak Ridge, TN that caters to truckers like you, pick up the phone and contact one of our transportation specialists today. That way, you can get back on the road with confidence tomorrow.

 Trucking Insurance Oak Ridge, TN

Latest News in Oak Ridge, TN

Drivers need to remain aware of several road projects underway in Oak Ridge

Oak Ridge Public Works crews will be conducting asphalt repairs on South Illinois Avenue beginning Oct. 23. That's just part of the various road work people traveling within the city of Oak Ridge need to keep in mind.Asphalt repairs begin Oct. 23The asphalt work by the city will begin Monday on South Illinois Avenue near ...

Oak Ridge Public Works crews will be conducting asphalt repairs on South Illinois Avenue beginning Oct. 23. That's just part of the various road work people traveling within the city of Oak Ridge need to keep in mind.

Asphalt repairs begin Oct. 23

The asphalt work by the city will begin Monday on South Illinois Avenue near Oak Ridge Turnpike and travel toward Lafayette Drive and Scarboro Road. Crews will repair various locations along South Illinois Avenue in both directions, according to a city news release.

This work is being conducted in anticipation of a complete resurface that the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has scheduled for 2024.

Resurfacing work on Oak Ridge Turnpike continues

Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) contractors began work to resurface Oak Ridge Turnpike last week.

Crews are milling the Oak Ridge Turnpike from east to west. The project is expected to take four to seven weeks, according to city spokesperson Lauren Gray.

Work is expected to be primarily after business hours. Drivers should expect temporary, short-term lane closures; no full lane closures are planned.

Road closures on Scarboro Road for water lines

Road work continues for the new water lines for the city's new water treatment plant.

From late November to mid-January, according to Gray, work will continue up to and on the Y-12 National Security Complex campus to the connection point at the existing water plant at the top of the hill inside Y-12.

Questions about any of the road work in the city can be directed to Oak Ridge Public Works at (865) 425-1875.

And for those traveling outside of the city - road work is currently being done in downtown Clinton's Main Street and continuing northbound outside the city toward Rocky Top on U.S Highway 25W.

The Oak Ridger's News Editor Donna Smith covers Oak Ridge area news. Email her at dsmith@oakridger.com and follow her on Twitter@ridgernewsed.

Support The Oak Ridger by subscribing. Offers available at https://subscribe.oakridger.com/offers.

Oak Ridge nonprofit helping homeless families secure housing

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An Anderson County nonprofit is on a mission to make sure no child sleeps outside.Thousands of people are experiencing homelessness on any given day in Tennessee. A homeless assistance group in Anderson County is working to offer a solution that gets families off the street and into housing.“We knew as case workers we were going out and we were meeting with children and their parents and families that were staying out in vehicles in parking lots around town and we were thinking to ourselves...

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An Anderson County nonprofit is on a mission to make sure no child sleeps outside.

Thousands of people are experiencing homelessness on any given day in Tennessee. A homeless assistance group in Anderson County is working to offer a solution that gets families off the street and into housing.

“We knew as case workers we were going out and we were meeting with children and their parents and families that were staying out in vehicles in parking lots around town and we were thinking to ourselves why are we allowing children to sleep in cars and in parking lots. There has to be something better,” said Andy O’Quinn, the TORCH Executive Director.

O’Quinn said while investigating shelter solutions the Tennessee Out-Reach Center for Homeless, commonly known as TORCH, implemented the Housing First concept with an emphasis on families with children.

The new model bypasses the need for a congregate shelter and most of TORCH’s families stay in temporary housing for several months.

“People are proud, and they do not want people to know that they’re not making it. So, housing first establishes the dignity of each individual and is not blaming them. It’s just getting them into housing,” said Sheila Michel, the TORCH Founder and Board Chair.

This year TORCH finished building Bookhart Village in Oak Ridge. The duplex and fourplex can house up to six families. There are also three other units off-site. The Oak Ridge Housing Authority manages the properties which allows TORCH case managers to devote more time to help families secure permanent housing.

“We want to try and give the families autonomy so that they can meet with their children and be families first and then homeless is just something that’s happening to them. Rather than being homeless and then trying to be families during that time period,” said O’Quinn.

TORCH wants to share its success in the hopes that other communities can duplicate the Shelter in a Future Home concept and end the generational trauma and cycle of homelessness.

“My favorite story is about a child who was housed here at Bookhart Village and went to school and his first day in the classroom announced to everyone in the class, I have a new home and I have a bunkbed. I might be able to invite you over for a sleepover,” said Michel.

TORCH said their work doesn’t stop here. They will continue to make homes for the homeless. Visit oakridgetorch.org for more information on TORCH’s programs and how to volunteer or donate.

City of Oak Ridge, Anderson County governments announce holiday closings, changes in hours

The Oak RidgerThe city of Oak Ridge and Anderson County governments have announced when offices and services will be closed for the Christmas and New Year's holidays.All city of Oak Ridge administrative offices, including City Court, will be closed on Friday, Dec. 22 through Monday, Dec. 25, in observance of Christm...

The Oak Ridger

The city of Oak Ridge and Anderson County governments have announced when offices and services will be closed for the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

All city of Oak Ridge administrative offices, including City Court, will be closed on Friday, Dec. 22 through Monday, Dec. 25, in observance of Christmas, according to a news release.

City offices and City Court will also be closed on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, for New Year’s Day. Offices reopen and court continues as normal beginning Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024.

Additional closures and adjustments to city services and facilities are listed below.

Household trash and recycling pickup will occur one day behind schedule the week of Christmas, Dec. 25. For questions, contact Waste Connections of Tennessee at (865) 482-3656 or visit www.WasteConnectionsTN.com.

The Centennial Golf Course is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday (weather permitting) through December. In January and February, golf course hours will change to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Police and fire services will continue to operate as normal. Emergencies can be reported by calling 911. The non-emergency line is (865) 425-4399. Customers can continue to make utility payments online at https://customerservice.oakridgetn.gov/ or by phone 24/7 by calling (833) 268-4341 (six-digit account number required). Customers are also welcome to use the overnight drop box located in the parking lot at 200 S. Tulane Ave. or payments can be mailed to P.O. Box 1, Oak Ridge, TN 37831. For more information, visit OakRidgeTN.gov or call the city manager’s office at (865) 425-3550.

Anderson County holiday closings

Anderson County government offices and facilities will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 25 and 26, in observance of the Christmas holidays. County offices will also be closed on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024 for New Year’s Day.

According to a news release, the following are the holiday hours and closures for specific locations:

Law enforcement and emergency services will operate as normal throughout the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Oak Ridge Boys come 'home' to where the group originated

Tennessee Music Pathways marker located outside Historic Grove Theater now High Places churchThe Oak Ridger0:001:30ADFirst there was Wally Fowler and the Georgia Clodhoppers.Then the Oak Ridge Quartet.And finally, the Oak Ridge Boys.But whatever their moniker, the group got a good start in the Manhattan Project area that would later be called the city of Oak Ridge. That city - and the state of...

Tennessee Music Pathways marker located outside Historic Grove Theater now High Places church

The Oak Ridger

First there was Wally Fowler and the Georgia Clodhoppers.

Then the Oak Ridge Quartet.

And finally, the Oak Ridge Boys.

But whatever their moniker, the group got a good start in the Manhattan Project area that would later be called the city of Oak Ridge. That city - and the state of Tennessee - honored the "Boys" and family members of the performers in the earlier group incarnations on Nov. 20 with a marker on the Tennessee Music Pathways. The new marker tells the history of the Oak Ridge Boys and the group's predecessors and includes images of the Boys and the Oak Ridge Quartet. It is located outside the Historic Grove Theater, home of High Places Community Church, and the former performance venue of Fowler and his Clodhoppers.

William Lee Golden, who joined the Boys in 1965, said the music of the Oak Ridge Quartet inspired him while he was growing up on a farm in southern Alabama. But, he said, sitting on a tractor in Alabama wasn't achieving his dream, so he traveled to Nashville and told the Boys he'd like a chance to try out for a spot in the group if that chance came about - and it did in January 1965.

Golden, who attended this week's unveiling of the marker with Richard Sterban, said they were honored to be in Oak Ridge with the families that started the Oak Ridge Boys. He said talking about how that legacy had been passed down gave him chills.

"This is a tremendous history," Sterban said of the fact they were standing where the Oak Ridge Boys got their start during World War II. He joined the Boys in 1972 after performing with Elvis Presley and singing bass for J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet.

Sterban spoke of how he and Golden and the other two Boys, Duane Allen and Joe Bonsall, have been together for 50 years and started their farewell tour this year. But, he said, they didn't announce when the farewell tour would end.

That's because they don't know yet, he added.

After the event, Sterban told The Oak Ridger they hope they will be able to perform in this area before they end their tour. They were departing the Oak Ridge event for a Nov. 21 performance in Portsmouth, Ohio. They currently have tour dates booked through April 2024.

The Oak Ridge Boys performed at Oak Ridge's Secret City Festival in June 2007. A road that runs just north of the Civic Center was named Oak Ridge Boys Way while they were here in 2007.

The history, the legacy, the families

Family members of Wally Fowler and Lon "Deacon" Freeman attended the unveiling. Rosie Mosteller, Freeman's oldest child, attended with sisters Susan Hill and Lynn Starks and brother Danny. Mosteller said she and her siblings were the reason Freeman quit performing on the road.

She spoke of her family fondly. She talked of her mother, Nell Hampton Freeman, telling her about how they lived in a duplex in Nashville. Sarah Cannon, who would become better known as "Minnie Pearl," lived on the other side of the duplex and would babysit Mosteller. Her father worked for the Jewel Tea Co., and eventually started and performed with a quartet he called The Original Oak Ridge Quartet because Fowler had sold the rights to the Oak Ridge Quartet name.

Now all of Freeman's children live close to each other in the area of Dalton, Georgia , she said The family is musically inclined, as is most of the extended family, she said. Many sing and are praise leaders at churches

As previously explained in The Oak Ridger and City Historian D. Ray Smith's "Historically Speaking" columns, a country, comedy and gospel music group called Wally Fowler and the Georgia Clodhoppers performed in 1944 at the Grove Theater. They would be allowed to enter the Manhattan Project area on Saturdays to perform in the morning for kids and in the evening for adults. The group was eventually invited to perform at the Ryman Theater and moved to Nashville in 1947. Fowler started "All Night Singings" at the Ryman in 1948 and changed the name to the Oak Ridge Quartet. The name was changed to the Oak Ridge Boys when they developed a broader sound and wanted a more youthful name.

Fowler's daughter and grandson, Hope and Gregg Kimmer, were also at the unveiling.

The current Oak Ridge Boys have won four Academy of Country Music, two American Music, five Billboard, four Country Music Association, five Grammy and 12 Dove awards. They're members of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry. Mayor Warren Gooch said their hall of fame inductions and other accolades were "pretty much a grand slam" that would be difficult to surpass. State Rep. John Ragan and Vice Mayor Jim Dodson also were on hand at the event.

Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Mark Ezell said there are now 350 points of interest on the Tennessee Music Pathways. A nearby one is in Rocky Top, where performer and songwriter Dean Dillon grew up. He graduated from Oak Ridge High School. His marker outside the Coal Miners Museum on Main Street was unveiled in September.

"Tennessee truly is the soundtrack of America," Ezell said, adding that the idea behind the pathways is to attract tourists who want to visit the various locations behind the music of Tennessee.

The Oak Ridger's News Editor Donna Smith covers Oak Ridge area news. Email her at dsmith@oakridger.com and follow her on Twitter@ridgernewsed.

Support The Oak Ridger by subscribing. Offers available at https://subscribe.oakridger.com/offers.

The Secret Is Out in Oak Ridge, TN

The Secret Is Out in Oak Ridge: This is where the Manhattan Project beganWith the popularity of “Oppenheimer” in theaters, perhaps it’s time for a look at where America’s quest to create the atomic bomb began: Oak Ridge, Tenn. A four-hour drive north from Lake Lanier into northeast Tennessee to learn what really happened in the “Secret City,” probably one of the best-kept covert operations of the U.S. government on domestic soil during World War II.Lakeside Senior Reporter Pam ...

The Secret Is Out in Oak Ridge: This is where the Manhattan Project began

With the popularity of “Oppenheimer” in theaters, perhaps it’s time for a look at where America’s quest to create the atomic bomb began: Oak Ridge, Tenn. A four-hour drive north from Lake Lanier into northeast Tennessee to learn what really happened in the “Secret City,” probably one of the best-kept covert operations of the U.S. government on domestic soil during World War II.

Lakeside Senior Reporter Pam Keene toured Oak Ridge with the town’s official historian Ray Smith, who also worked at Y-12 starting in the 1980s. Today the town has preserved many of the original buildings. The city remains active in scientific research.

It was a top-secret location, created from the farmlands and pastoral rolling hills of northeast Tennessee in the early 1940s. Even the people who worked and lived there from 1942 to 1949 didn’t know the whole story at the time. It was simply referred to as The Manhattan Project.

What began as Clinton Engineering Works has become the City of Oak Ridge, one of three sites for The Manhattan Project at the beginning of World War II. Its purpose? Atomic research that led to the creation of the atomic bomb.

“In its heyday in 1945, Oak Ridge was the fifth-largest city in the state with more than 75,000 residents,” says Ray Smith, the official city historian of all things Oak Ridge. “Yet until (atomic bombs) Little Boy and Fat Man were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the secret of Oak Ridge was protected. It’s amazing to realize that of all those people, no one there knew what work was being done. Everything was compartmentalized and people were strictly forbidden to talk about what they were doing.”

About 3,000 families were displaced along Black Oak Ridge as the federal government took over the area in the early 1940s. Contractors constructed large industrial buildings, makeshift houses, dormitories, a non-denominational chapel, a guest lodge and a community swimming pool.

The 60,000-acre complex in East Tennessee functioned like a city with concrete construction facilities, a cafeteria, a commissary and schools. Underemployed and unemployed people were hired to work on small parts of the project, intentionally kept unaware to protect a national secret.

Signs throughout the area warned of the need for secrecy: “Hold Your Tongue. The Job’s Not Done.” “Who Me? Yes You … Keep MUM about this Job.” “Your Pen and Tongue can be Enemy Weapons. Watch What You Write and Say.”

“When workers traveled by bus to nearby Knoxville, they were sometimes met with questions like ‘What are you doing out there?’ to which the reply was ‘As little as possible.’ Even couples working in different areas weren’t allowed to discuss what they did,” he says. “Some of the women sat all day at consoles turning dials; little did they know they were enhancing uranium that would be used for making the atomic bomb.”

Ray moved to Oak Ridge several decades after Little Boy and Fat Man brought an end to World War II. For 47 years, he worked at the Y-12 facility, previously used to produce enriched uranium. Along the way, Ray’s interest in history and photography led him to become an authority on Y-12 and the heritage of Oak Ridge.

At one point, he was asked to make a list of all the buildings at the site, nearly 800 of them. Some 300 were demolished; others were repurposed, such as the New Hope Community Center, formerly a gathering place for employees’ dances and bingo and now a museum.

He’s written several books about Oak Ridge, compiled years of newspaper columns for The Oak Ridger, and consulted with authors, including Denise Kiernan who authored “The Girls of Atomic City.” He was a producer on a 90-minute documentary “Secret City: The War Years” about Oak Ridge, narrated by actor David Keith, as well as a documentary about the Manhattan Project and Department of Energy photographer Ed Westcott.

“My purpose is to keep the heritage and history of Oak Ridge alive for future generations,” Ray says. “So much happened here and is still happening, and there are so many stories to tell.”

The Oak Ridge site is one of three units that make up The Manhattan Project National Historic Park, established on November 10, 2015. The other two are located in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Hanford, Washington.

“To have the full experience of the Manhattan Project National Historic Park you have to visit all three locations,” says Mark Watson, city manager of Oak Ridge. “You’ll only get one-third of a stamp on your national park passport if you only visit one site because they each played a vital part in The Manhattan Project.”

As for Oak Ridge, the city is home to several museums that tell the story of the people and the history of the Manhattan Project: The American Museum of Science and Energy, The Oak Ridge History Museum, The K-25 Museum and the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge. Exhibitions tell the story of the past, the present and the future of Oak Ridge.

“What many people don’t understand is that what happened in Oak Ridge more than 85 years ago as the beginning of the atomic age opened the doors to much more,” says Matt Mullins, marketing director of the American Museum of Science and Energy. “From the technology used in rockets and submarines to identifying isotopes to treat cancer, it was just the beginning of transforming our very world.”

Tours of the museums, a chance to speak with volunteer docents, some of whom worked at the top-secret project, and drive-bys past the remnants of the original complex paint a picture of the past; however Oak Ridge is a thriving community.

“We are still an active site for research and development with many federally secured facilities,” Mark says. “However, when people visit Oak Ridge, they are not only seeing a part of history, they are getting a window into the future. It’s an exciting place to be.”

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