Greetings from Historic Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Born from the Manhattan Project 💣 and rich in natural beauty, Oak Ridge is the “Secret City” with a big story to tell.
Oak Ridge Tennessee is a city in Anderson and Roane counties in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Tennessee, about 25 miles west of downtown Knoxville. Oak Ridge’s population was 31,402 at the 2020 census. It is part of the Knoxville Metropolitan Area.
Oak Ridge’s nicknames include the Atomic City, the Secret City, the Ridge, the Town the Atomic Bomb Built, and the City Behind the Fence.
In 1942, the United States federal government purchased nearly 60,000 acres of farmland in the Clinch River Valley for the development of a planned city supporting 75,000 residents.
It was constructed with assistance from architectural and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, from 1942 to 1943.
Oak Ridge was established in 1942 as a production site for the Manhattan Project—the massive American, British, and Canadian operation that developed the atomic bomb.
Being the site of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex, scientific and technological development still plays a crucial role in the city’s economy and culture in general.
The Community of Oak Ridge, Tennessee
More coming soon.
The earliest substantial occupation of the Oak Ridge area occurred during the Woodland period (c. 1000 BC – 1000), although artifacts dating to the Paleo-Indian period have been found throughout the Clinch Valley. Two Woodland mound sites—the Crawford Farm Mounds and the Freels Farm Mounds—were uncovered in the 1930s as part of the Norris Basin salvage excavations.
Both sites were just southeast of the former Scarboro community. The Bull Bluff site, which was occupied during the Woodland and Mississippian (c. 1000–1600) periods, was uncovered in the 1960s in anticipation of the construction of Melton Hill Dam.
Bull Bluff is a cliff immediately southeast of Haw Ridge, opposite Melton Hill Park. The Oak Ridge area was largely uninhabited when Euro-American explorers and settlers arrived in the late 18th century, although the Cherokee claimed the land as part of their hunting grounds.
In 1942, the United States federal government chose the area as a site for developing materials for the Manhattan Project. Major general Leslie Groves, military head of the Manhattan Project, liked the area for several reasons. Its relatively low population made acquisition affordable, yet the area was accessible by highway and rail, and utilities such as water and electricity were readily available due to the recent completion of Norris Dam.
Finally, the project location was established within a 17-mile-long valley. This feature was linear and partitioned by several ridges, providing natural protection against the spread of disasters at the four major industrial plants—so they wouldn’t blow up “like firecrackers on a string”.
Oak Ridge, TN Real Estate Trends as of June 2022
Affordability of Living in Oak Ridge, TN
- The typical home value is $331,796
- Homes are typically worth $195/sqft
- In June, 2022 the average home was on market for 14 days
Average Home Value in Oak Ridge, TN, by Home Size
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Current Market Statistics
Information is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed. © 2023
Listings in Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Immediately northeast of Oak Ridge, the southwestward-flowing Clinch River bends sharply to the southeast for roughly 6 miles toward Solway, where it turns again to the southwest.
After flowing for approximately 17 miles, the river bends sharply to the northwest at Copper Ridge, and continues in this direction for nearly 7 miles.
At the K-25 plant, the Clinch turns southwest again and flows for another 11 miles to its mouth along the Tennessee River at Kingston. This series of bends creates a half-rectangle formation—surrounded by water on the northeast, east, and southwest—in which Oak Ridge is situated.
The Oak Ridge area is striated by five elongated ridges that run roughly parallel to one another in a northeast-to-southwest direction.
In order from west-to-east, the five ridges are Blackoak Ridge—which connects the Elza and K-25 bends of the Clinch and thus “walls off” the half-rectangle—East Fork Ridge, Pine Ridge, Chestnut Ridge, and Haw Ridge.
The five ridges are divided by four valleys—East Fork Valley (between Blackoak and East Fork Ridge), Gamble Valley (between East Fork Ridge and Pine Ridge), Bear Creek Valley (between Pine Ridge and Chestnut), and Bethel Valley (between Chestnut and Haw).
These ridges and valleys are part of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians physiographic province. The main section of the city is located in the northeast, where East Fork and Pine Ridge give way to low, scattered hills. Many of the city’s residences are located along the relatively steep northeastern slope of Blackoak Ridge.
The completion of Melton Hill Dam (along the Clinch near Copper Ridge) in 1963 created Melton Hill Lake, which borders the city on the northeast and east.
The lakefront on the east side of the city is a popular recreation area, with bicycling trails and picnic areas lining the shore.
The lake is also well known as a venue for rowing competitions. Watts Bar Lake, an impoundment of the Tennessee River which covers the lower 23 miles of the Clinch, borders Oak Ridge to the south and southwest.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 90.0 square miles, of which 85.3 square miles is land and 4.7 square miles, or 5.25%, is water.
The highest point is Melton Hill (35.90962°N 84.30525°W) on the DOE reservation, at elevation 1,356 feet.
Parks and Recreation
Oak Ridge features over 16 parks, plus golf courses, greenways, and more!
A.K. Bissell Park –1403 Oak Ridge Turnpike
This park is 38 acres, and features a 1.25-mile hiking loop, a picnic shelter, a performance pavilion, and is also home to The International Friendship Bell.
Features: Commemorative Walk | Performing Arts Pavilion | Friendship Bell | Playground | Walking Trail | Picnic Shelter
Big Turtle Park –100 Monterey Road
This park offers soccer and softball fields, a playground, and picnic areas. PetSafe Dog Park 🐶 provides two fenced areas for dogs to play off-leash.
Features: Field Rentals | Dog Park | Playground | Big Turtle Greenway | Soccer Field | Softball Field
Briarcliff Park – 100 Deerfield Lane
Briarcliff has a small playground good for little one, a practice soccer field, and plenty of parking. It is adjacent to the Briarcliff Community Club swimming pool.
Features: Playground | Practice Soccer Field
Carl Yearwood Park – 235 Bus Terminal Road
Features: Skate Park | Disc Golf | Softball Fields | Picnic Shelter
Cedar Hill Park – 609 Michigan Ave.
Features: Picnic Shelter | Playground | Basketball Court | Cedar Hill Greenway
Elm Grove Park –351 E. Tennessee Ave.
Features: Basketball Court | Playground | Walking Trail
Elza Gate Park –101 Oak Ridge Turnpike
A former entry point to the Secret City in the 1940s and TVA’s Worthington Cemetery Trail with a wooden habitat, a cemetery from the 1800s, a pond and pier that extends out to the wetland with over 125 bird species 🐦, and the trailhead for the Melton Lake Greenway.
Features: Melton Lake Greenway | Worthington Cemetery
Groves Park –795 Tuskegee Dr.
Features: Disc Golf Course | Open park space
Haw Ridge Park –Edgemoor Rd.
The 780-acre park is situated on a scenic peninsula along the Clinch River. Greenways for Haw Ridge, and Melton Lake, a Mountain Bike pump track and trails, and room for biking, hiking, and running. 🚵🏼♀️🚶🏼🏃🏼♀️
Features: Haw Ridge Greenway | Melton Lake Greenway | Dirt Lab
Highland View Park –451 West Outer Dr.
Features: Picnic Shelter | Playground
LaSalle Park –168 Lasalle Rd
Features: Soccer Field | Playground
Melton Lake Park –697 Melton Lake Dr.
With 173 miles of shoreline, Melton Lake Park is located on the eastern edge of Oak Ridge, is also known as one of the best 2,000-meter rowing venues in America, and a peaceful 5.6-mile waterfront greenway great for walking, running, and biking.
Features: Melton Lake Greenway | Volleyball Court | Playground | Boat Ramp | Pavilion for Rent
Milt Dickens Park –100 Athens Rd
Features: Soccer Field | Playground
Pinewood Park –205 Bus Terminal Rd.
Features: Soccer Field | Softball Field
Solway Park – Edgemoor Rd.
Features: Boat Ramp | Fishing Pier | Picnic Area | Walking Trail
Get more info at Oak Ridge Recreation & Parks
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions about Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Q. What is famous about Oak Ridge Tennessee?
A. It was the first and largest of the three Manhattan Project sites built to produce the world’s first atomic weapons. Known as the “Secret City,” Oak Ridge was built in 1942, and its population skyrocketed to 75,000 in just 2.5 years, making it the fifth-largest city in Tennessee at the time.
Q. Is Oak Ridge Tennessee a good place to live?
A. Oak Ridge is blessed with limitless amenities that make day-to-day living a pleasure. Safe neighborhoods, award-winning schools, top-notch healthcare and a traditional sense of community, make Oak Ridge the perfect environment to nurture a family or to nest for retirement.
Q. What happened in Oak Ridge Tennessee?
A. In 1942 the federal government quietly took over 60,000 acres nestled in the ridges of East Tennessee. It was the beginning of Oak Ridge: a city cloaked in secrecy that tens of thousands of people flocked to during World War II, most unknowingly helping to build the world’s first atomic bomb.
Details about Oak Ridge, Tennessee
- It has an elevation of 850 ft
- Population (in 2020) is 31,402
- The time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST)) and in Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
- The ZIP codes are 37830 – 37831, and the Area code is 865
Get more info at the City of Oak Ridge