Knoxville’s tallest landmark gets image makeover

Betty BeanOur Town Stories

 Once upon a time, North Knoxville and Fountain City residents pretty much considered Sharp’s Ridge a place they didn’t want to be, if they thought about it at all – even though at 1,391 feet tall, it’s Knoxville’s highest vantage point (Knoxville “proper” as per The Knoxville, Knox County, Knoxville Utilities Board Geographic Information System or KGIS).

But an unsightly antenna farm and an unsavory reputation as a haven for drug dealers and lonely men looking for lunchtime companionship kept visitors away, even though the top of the ridge had been dedicated as a veterans’ memorial park in 1952.

Plaque commemorating installation of the overlook

Over the years, the city promoted the ridge as a bird-watching location and a place to take in spectacular, panoramic vistas, but the above-mentioned problems lingered, and matters weren’t helped by coyote sightings and the occasional forest fire, either.

In recent years, however, things started changing for the better. The Oakwood Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association became one of the most active such groups in the city and began to take an interest in the ridge, which is the traditional boundary between North Knoxville and Fountain City and forms the northern boundary of the neighborhood. They started holding cleanups and cookouts and community events and soon joined with the Women Veterans of America, who were working with the Vietnam Veterans of America, Legacy Parks Foundation and the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club to make the ridge more recreation-friendly.

A group of runners finishes the Ridge Run.

Last week, the third annual Veterans Heritage 5K Ridge Run went off without a hitch. The starting/finish line was the old Lincoln Park school, and the proceeds will help preserve and maintain veterans heritage sites. The plan is to hold the event the first Saturday in April going forward.

There are more than five miles of bike trails on the ridge, as well, and bird-watching is as active as ever.

Here are some links to information about Sharp’s Ridge activities and organizations:

AMBC, Outdoor Knoxville, Sharp’s Ridge Scuttle, Veterans Heritage 5K Ridge Run.

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