About Anderson County.

About Anderson County.

The county spans 598 square miles and has a population of 71,330. The median age of its residents is just shy of 40, and the median household income is $36,006.

The county is home to two planned communities - Norris, built in the Great Depression to house those working on Norris Dam, and Oak Ridge, which mushroomed into existence during World War II as a secret city devoted to helping build the first atomic bomb.

Other cities in Anderson County are Clinton, Lake City, which straddles Anderson and Campbell counties, and Oliver Springs, parts of which are also in Roane and Morgan counties. A number of smaller unincorporated communities also dot the county map, including Claxton, Briceville and Marlow. The most remote section of the county is called New River, an isolated community only reached by a winding state Highway 116.

Carved from chunks of Knox and Grainger counties by legislative act on Nov. 6, 1801, Anderson County was named after then-U.S. Sen. Joseph Anderson. The Legislature also decreed two centuries ago that the county seat would be next to the Clinch River.

Originally called Burrville, after Aaron Burr, the city was later renamed Clinton after Burr fell into dishonor. Clinton early last century was famed for its thriving market in fresh-water pearls. That unique industry was doomed when Norris Dam was built, for the dam forever altered the environment needed for the mussels that made the pearls.

Now, Clinton is the county's industrial hub, and last year city officials announced three new industries for its new Clinton/Interstate 75 Industrial Park, located a couple of miles off I-75.

With a population of 9,409, Clinton has several public parks, including Jaycee Park behind the site for the annual county fair, a tradition that's more than 100 years old. The city also has a sprawling community center that includes a large indoor pool, basketball court, bowling alley and numerous meeting rooms.

Located seven miles west of Clinton, Oak Ridge now has a total population of 27,387, including the portion of the municipality that spills over into Roane County. Oak Ridge, nicknamed the Atomic City in tribute to its legacy in the field of nuclear weapons and research, is immersed in efforts to decrease its dependency on the U.S. Department of Energy.

There are three facilities in Oak Ridge that are part of DOE's Oak Ridge Reservation: the Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the former K-25 Site, a former uranium enrichment complex that's being converted to private-sector use. Oak Ridge is known for its broad spectrum of organizations devoted to the arts, from the Oak Ridge Playhouse to the Art Center to an orchestra that performs several times as year.

The county is also home to several notable museums. It's home to both John Rice Irwin's Museum of Appalachia, which abounds with artifacts from the county's history, and the American Museum of Science and Energy, which showcases some of the newest scientific advancements. They're only a 20-minute drive apart. There's also the Children's Museum of Oak Ridge, located in a former school building on West Outer Drive; the Norris Museum in the McNeeley Municipal Building in downtown Norris; and the Will G. and Helen H. Lenoir Museum, located off U.S. Highway 441.

The Museum of Appalachia, with more than 250,000 items on display, is one of the county's major tourist attractions. On the second weekend of October, owner John Rice Irwin hosts a Fall Homecoming Festival that's now in its 23rd year.

The county offers numerous recreational opportunities for those who enjoy the outdoors. Norris Dam State Park, which encompasses 7,000 acres straddling Norris Dam, was shut down for an indefinite time on Nov. 30 as part of a controversial statewide cost-cutting measure due to budgetary woes. The closure came despite outcries from residents and many of the estimated 860,000 park users who booked campsites and the park's famous Tea Room building for weddings and other events.

Outdoors enthusiasts have other venues, however, including the Clinch River, one of the region's premiere trout-fishing hot spots, Norris Lake, known for striped bass as well as pleasure boating, and the 2,307-acre Norris Watershed. Along with 24 miles of trails for hikers, bikers and horseback riders, the watershed lures hunters to its woods each fall.

In Oak Ridge, there's the 800-acre Haw Ridge Park that's popular with mountain bikers, while the city-owned greenway system features miles of trails in wooded areas, including the North Ridge Trail, named a National Recreation Trail in 1973.

The three public school systems in Anderson County are the 1,000-student Clinton system that encompasses three elementary schools, the 7,000-student county system that includes 17 schools, and the seven schools in the Oak Ridge system, which has about 4,500 students.

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