Taking A Walk

Walking Down US Highway 11 – Winchester, Virginia to Louisiana

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Day 36 – Frost, Dust, an Oasis, and Everything in Between

October 30th, 2008 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Today was a full day – 20 miles with many attractions and events. We walked through Philadelphia, Sweetwater, and Niota, Tennessee. This may be a long post. It was 32 degrees F this morning with frost. The weather warmed quickly, we stripped off all our extra layers, and it ended at near 70 degrees.  Not a cloud in the sky all day. Beautiful.

I love this type of landscape. Walk five miles, go through a town, walk five miles, go through a town. Great.

The day started out in the countryside. The first “town” was Philadelphia (appropriate on the morning after that other Philadelphia won the baseball World Series). Route 11 sort of passed by Philadelphia as the town was maybe a quarter mile to the west. I am surprised to report that not only does Wikipedia have a page on this town, but also photos of it. I took this photo of the twin rusty water towers. It is rare to see two water tower close to one another, especially in such a small place.

After another few rural miles, we walked through Sweetwater. This town has a great downtown area. It is only two or three blocks long, but well kept and busy. The unique thing is that it only has buildings on one side of the main street. There are several small parks downtown with bandstands. I like towns that have bandstands. I assume they occasionally have live music. Here is a photo of the downtown area.

The Wikipedia page for Sweetwater already has several nice photos of the town.

One other thing about Sweetwater. On the north side of town up on a hill sits a large brick building. The building is hard to see, but has a military look to it. This was once the Tennessee Military Institute. Then in 1989 it became the Tennesse Meiji Gakuin High School. That was associated with the Christian university of the same name in Japan that opened in 1863. I know this is going around in circles. This high school closed in 2007. It was a boarding school for Japanese high school kids whose parents were working in the U.S. It prepared them to attend colleges in Japan.

I don’t understand why a small town in Tennessee had such a school. Are there many Japanese nationals working in Tennessee? Someone help me with this.

Then the oasis. South of Sweetwater we walked upon this place (not a good photo I confess). The Spring Creek Crossing – a true oasis for a weary walker. It had several restaurants and stores all in one place. They don’t sell junk as this is not a flea market. They sell good, old, historical items. Where did this place come from? We spoke with the owner and several of the people there. I cannot express my surprise at this place. A really good place on the side of the road just north of no where.

If you are traveling Interstate-75 in Tennessee, this place is to your east a couple miles. Take exits 56 and head north or exit 60 and head south. Skip all the corporate stuff at the Interstate exits.  Take half an hour out of your trip and visit this place. Amazing.

Oh, and by the way. Across Route 11 from Spring Creek Crossing is this See Rock City barn. This one is in the best condition of any I have seen. All the words are still standing.

After Spring Creek Crossing, we came upon a road construction project. The crew was stripping off the top couple inches of asphalt. The result was dust. We walked five miles into traffic that stirred the dust and threw it into our faces. We made a note that if we came upon such a project in the future that we would drive though it. It wasn’t pleasant.

Our final town of the day was Niota. This is a really small place that Route 11 runs right down the middle. Niota has two gas stations, four churches (three of them Baptist, the town sign proudly proclaims this), one school (K-12 all in one), and a gold course. A golf course! How does such a little town get a golf course?

A word about the gas stations. I stopped in one for a quick snack. They didn’t have RC Cola and Moon Pies, so I got the next best thing – a big bag of Fritos and a Coca Cola. The second gas station sold Hunt Brothers Pizza (more on that pizza in another post). I haven’t seen Hunt Brothers Pizza in a hundred miles. Nice to see it again.

To top off Niota is this rusted water tower. The tower is so small that you cannot read it without walking around it. It reads “Socktown.” There is a sock factory at the north end of town that was established in 1902. I guess Niota has always been known as a sock-making town.

I have more to write from today. I will try to put that into other posts.

Tags: Loudon County · McMinn County · Monroe County · Tennessee

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