“Appalachian Lands for Free(dom): Civilian Displacement in Oak Ridge, Tennessee”

Despite eminent domain being the antithesis of Southern culture, the Appalachian region of East Tennessee has been consistently affected by large federal projects that have swallowed the homes of the area’s citizens for the greater part of the twentieth century.[1] This project seeks to acknowledge the families who forfeited their homes during the early 1940s as part of the war effort in the pre-Oak Ridge community of Wheat, Tennessee. This project humanizes the controversy surrounding displacement using Oak Ridge project maps overlaid with pre-Manhattan era photographs and local family histories, begging such questions as what do the history of displacement and eminent domain laws in the United States say about us, our government, and what we value? Appalachian residents have contributed much more to the U.S. than the forced sale of their land, this project seeks to honor that sacrifice.

[1] Durwood Dunn, Cades Cove: The Life and Death of a Southern Appalachian Community, 1818-1937 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1988); Dan Pierce, “The Barbarism of the Huns: Family and Community Removal in the Establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly 57, no. 1 (March 1998); Michael J. McDonald and John Muldowny, TVA and the Dispossessed: The Resettlement of Population in the Norris Dam Area (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1982); Daniel Schaffer, Atoms in Appalachia: Historical Report on the Clinch River Breeder Reactor Site (Tennessee Valley Authority, January 1982), https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/5116680; Raymond A. Mohl, “The Interstates and the Cities: Highways, Housing, and the Freeway Revolt,” Civil Rights Research (Poverty and Race Research Action Council, 2002), mohl.pdf.