Farragut nabs a ‘fine dam gift’

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

The town of Farragut has received a 6.43-acre parcel from an anonymous donor, and it’s a fine dam gift.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen accepted the property last week. The parcel is located on the west side of Concord Road just north of Turkey Creek Road. While you can’t see it from the road, the property holds Red Mill Dam, a historic treasure.

The town considered purchasing the property a few years back, says Town Administrator David Smoak, in order to provide public access to the stone dam, which dates back to the days when quarries were big business in the Concord area. The parcel didn’t sell until recently when the donor bought it specifically for the town.

“We certainly appreciate the generosity of the donor,” he says. “It will be great for generations to come to have the opportunity to get close to water.” (Turkey Creek runs through the parcel.)

Concord historian Mona Smith’s grandmother lived in the area, and she remembers her grandmother referring to the “fo-bay” as a child. As it turns out, that was a Southern pronunciation of forebay, a reservoir from which water is taken to run equipment like a water wheel.

Smith says the Red Mill was located on Red Mill Road, which connected to the western end of Loop Road. The road and the mill were covered with water when TVA flooded the valley in the early 1940s.

While the historic dam is scenic, it isn’t easily accessible. The terrain is steep and the underbrush is heavy. But the town has a goal of expanding its greenways along waterways, Smoak says, and the gift will provide an opportunity to do that when the funding is budgeted.

The parcel is adjacent to property owned by the Bridgewater HOA, and the board discussed the possibility of connecting a greenway that runs through Bridgewater subdivision to the town’s new property via a bridge over Turkey Creek. Smoak has also talked to First Utility District about allowing a few parking spaces on its property, located immediately south of the parcel.

However it happens, the town will make it a priority to honor the donor who wanted to preserve this hidden gem of history. Restrictions on the gift require that the property be used as a passive park and/or open space rather than for sports fields or other recreational facilities.

“It’s another piece of history we’d like to be able to present, like the Campbell Station Inn,” says Mayor Ron Williams. “This is a great thing for the town and for the town’s history.”

Because the town of Farragut cannot accept gifts of land directly, Legacy Parks Foundation accepted the donation and is in the process of quitclaiming the property to the town. Legacy Parks waived the one percent administrative fee for the transaction as part of an agreement that they would facilitate future donations to the town. The organization has added over 600 acres of parkland in Knox County.

Park projects require a long view, particularly when budgets are tight. But, someday, this generous gift will allow the community to experience a beautiful reminder of our past. Thank you to all those who helped make it happen.

Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut Insider. 

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