Narrow miss on spring house wipeout

Sandra ClarkOur Town Stories, Powell

Powell Station came within a fender’s width of losing a historic treasure during the recent heavy flooding. The spring house in the curve on Emory Road near Spring Street was almost smashed when a red pickup skidded off the road and landed hood-first into the waters of Beaver Creek.


Spring house restoration was a topic for the Powell Station Historical Society which met Feb. 24 at the Community Center on Emory Road. The group’s president, Ron Evans, said the spring house is in danger of collapsing. Property owner Samantha Lambert has asked Evans about community assistance.

The Powell spring house needs repair.

Help is needed, he said, to clear the land around the spring house and for a contractor or stone mason to rebuild the brick walls. Bricks are on-site, but the mortar has deteriorated with frequent high water and occasional red trucks.

Evans said the structure “is at least 113 years old,” because he has a photograph of it dated 1907. Legend has it that Andrew Jackson stopped at the spring to water his horse while traveling on Emory Road. Spirited discussion ensued.

Lee Robbins said the spring house was used for pre-electricity refrigeration. Somebody said the spring was the origin of the Gill Water Company which was absorbed into Hallsdale-Powell Utility District in the mid-1950s. Evans said he’s seen the name “Gill Spring” on old maps.

Robbins said the train would stop and take on water before going into Knoxville.

Another person said the spring house later contained a pump which pumped water to a reservoir on Brickyard Road. “It provided fresh water to the homes on Harmon Road and to the school,” said Ron Evans. But the pump only ran from daylight to dark, so “you had to schedule your bath and laundry.”

So, yes. We’re going to fix this spring house. Anyone with ideas should contact Ron Evans at rpevans@att.net

Blue holes: I know of one – accessible off Emory Road across from Billy Wallace’s house. I was there when Billy put a conservation easement on it with Carol Evans from Legacy Parks Foundation. Legend has it that a team of mules and a wagon were swept into the “bottomless” blue hole and were never seen again.

But others at the Powell history meeting had different locations. Ron Evans said there are at least four “blue holes” on Beaver Creek from Halls to Karns and legend has it that a horse and/or wagon was lost in every one. Wow.

The new Menifee Station historic marker

Menifee Station Historic Marker: The state has produced a replacement marker for the fort that was Powell Station’s first public gathering place. It was located on Beaver Creek near the intersection of Emory Road and Clinton Highway. Evans is organizing a rededication ceremony for spring. More on this later.

John Menifee was a real deal pioneer. A political ally of John Sevier, he was in Jonesborough with Sevier when The State of Franklin (predecessor of Tennessee) was created out of Hawkins County, North Carolina. In the “Official Manual of Tennessee,” Menifee is first mentioned in 1787. Sevier was governor and Menifee was speaker of the House. North Carolina, of course, contested the establishment of the State of Franklin and, for a time, residents were taxed by both entities. As the Official Manual relates: “and the people paid neither.”

This is fascinating reading. Another early pioneer was David Campbell, a captain in the Revolutionary War who was in the room at the founding of The State of Franklin and later established an outpost at what is now Campbell’s Station in Farragut.

The state of Tennessee was created in 1796, but Menifee had already rolled into Powell. The historic marker sets the date as “around 1790.” Powell Station was on the map – before the state of Tennessee. “Without John Menifee, we would not be here,” said Ron Evans.

By 1814, Menifee was gone. He sold his property to the Samuel Bell family and followed the frontier to land near Decatur, Alabama. That’s where he died and is buried. His family migrated on to Texas, Evans said.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of KnoxTNToday.com

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