By Samuel Strait – November 7, 2022
Oak Ridge and the Manhattan Project are on tap to start the day. While
most of the original laboratory buildings are long gone, many of the
cabins and hutments remain scattered around the remains of the community
of Oak Ridge. In the forties the US government basically moved
approximately 1100 local residents out of the area in order to create
space for the huge laboratory complex that became the initial stages of
the creation of the nuclear bomb. Up to 75,000 people were engaged in
the program, many with families. At the time, the creation and
deployment of the atomic bomb was justified by Democrat, President
Theodore Roosevelt as a way to save the lives of the many US soldiers it
would have taken to invade Japan. Since that time there have been many
different interpretations of that action, but those engaged in the
program were convinced they were doing their part to “win the war”.
Most were not even aware of what part they played as the security was so
stringent that only well after the war did they finally realize what
part they had played.
In any event the story of those days was certainly a clear narrative of
life in wartime America and the privations many existed under during WW
II. We had originally intended to see the home of David Farragut,
famous as an admiral during the Civil War, but found out part way there
that the home was not open. You may recall, or maybe not, famous for
his “Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead” as he and the Union fleet
entered the Mississippi River at New Orleans. A quick change of plans
and off for Nashville with a stop at Fort Southwest Point. This fort
while mostly long gone represented one of the early outposts of frontier
America. Situated along the banks of the Tennessee River it was
originally just a blockhouse prior to the Revolutionary War, then
following the war it was transformed into a garrisoned fort. The new
Federal government used it as a control point for engaging the local
native tribes while protecting settlers in the area.
Our final stop was to be Stones River, out side of Murfreesboro, but
came up short and elected to take an early day of it and see this
important Civil War site in the morning. Tennessee, has been a pleasant
variety of Mountains and lush grassy fields. Gas is back down to under
$3.00 per gallon, but likely will begin to climb again in Democrat
controlled Illinois and Michigan. Stones River in the morning, then
Fort Donelson and north to Kentucky and Indiana.
Day nineteen in the can.
Day Twenty begins in the misty fields of Stones River, one of the first
signs of Union success during the Civil War. Things hadn’t been going
very well for the Union armies of Abraham Lincoln in the War between the
States and Stones River gave him that much needed victory, yet at a
huge cost in lives. The way to the heart of the Southern States was
finally open and would ultimately lead to Sherman’s march to the sea in
1864. I suppose most have become a bit tired of refighting the Civil
War, but hanging in there, only eleven more days and we will be back to
the less than golden state of California.
A zip through Nashville, it was Sunday after all, and things were pretty
quiet in town, then northwest to the Land Between the Lakes, a massive
series of lakes and waterways created to provide electricity for much of
the surrounding territory. I guess some people have decided that
damming rivers is not the environmental catastrophe when you need some
way to keep the lights on. Carbon neutral after all. While the water
is used primarily for electrical production, recreation and water fowl
sanctuaries are also on the menu. Funny how that works. A short break
to drive the site of Fort Donelson and the river batteries, then over
the border to Kentucky again.
We cross the skinny end of Kentucky in an hour before entering Indiana,
where Vincennes is our destination for the day. We have crossed back
and forth between eastern time zone and central so many time today that
it has been hard to keep track, but one thing is certain, gas in Indiana
is sixty cents higher than Kentucky, can’t wait for the sticker shock of
Michigan. Early to bed tonight as we are headed to Alma, Michigan in
the morning, four hundred and change to the north. Cord, Auburn, and
Duesenberg automobiles on the way north.