While most of “old Oak Ridge” has been razed and rebuilt in the ubiquitous modern American style of strip malls and parking lots, parts of the city date back to the 1940s. Jackson Square remains largely unchanged since it was built as Oak Ridge’s original town center. The low-slung horseshoe-shaped shopping center is home to professional offices, a few cafés, and the Oak Ridge Playhouse.
Across Kentucky Street from the square are the remains of the Alexander Motor Inn, Oak Ridge’s original and only hotel during the war. Above the inn is the Chapel on the Hill, a church that served as the place of worship for numerous denominations during the war.
Other attractions in Oak Ridge include the International Friendship Bell, located downtown, which is a monument to peace. The Secret City Commemorative Walk, also downtown, is a memorial to the 75,000 men and women who built Oak Ridge during the 1940s.
An attraction for children is the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge (416 W. Outer Dr., 865/482-1074, www.childrensmuseumofoakridge.org, Tues.–Fri. 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Sun. 1–4 p.m., adults $6, seniors $5, children 3–18 $4). Founded as a Girl Scout project in 1973, this is probably Tennessee’s best children’s museum, with exciting and creative activities for young and old.
The Secret City Scenic Excursion Train (865/241-2140, www.techscribes.com/sarm/srm_scs.htm, $10–15) combines pretty scenery with the history of Oak Ridge. The train departs from Wheat Union Station, near the K-25 overlook on Highway 58. The journey travels a 12-mile route through the Manhattan Project site.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition