As the town of Farragut continues to develop our tourism program, one of the questions we constantly ask ourselves is, “What would make travelers pick a hotel at exit 373?” That is, after all what tourism boils down to – emphasizing assets that could make visitors stay, play and shop here instead of somewhere else.
Critics of our tourism program say that this small, suburban hamlet doesn’t have anything to offer visitors. This is absolutely untrue. Anyone who travels knows that clean hotels in close proximity to shops and restaurants, as well as the interstate, are a major draw. Convenient and interesting places to walk the dog or stretch the legs are also attractive.
With all of this in mind, the Farragut Parks & Recreation Department developed the Farragut History Walk this year. “Developed” is a loose term. What we really did was recognize that we had several historical assets in a row and design a map with details of each. The walk starts at Founders Park at Campbell Station, where interpretive signs tell about the people and events that shaped this area, and progresses to the Campbell Station Inn and the Farragut Museum and Plaza at Farragut Town Hall. The final stop is Pleasant Forest Cemetery, a beautiful and tranquil place where several historically-significant people are interred.
Farragut’s history may be its most-overlooked resource. Heritage tourism is big business in Tennessee, given its abundance of museums, Civil War sites and music history, and the Farragut area has its fair share of noteworthy sites. In addition to the attractions mentioned above, the Village of Concord has an interesting past that was closely linked to East Tennessee’s marble industry, and examples of architecture from that era still exist. Concord sits on Fort Loudoun Lake, and the creation of that lake in 1943 is also a significant part of local history. Red Mill Dam is a historic site that was gifted anonymously to the town last year. It is currently inaccessible due to its remote location, but once funding is budgeted to develop the site, it will be another asset.
Mike Karnitz, director of the Pleasant Forest Cemetery board, understands the importance of making Farragut’s history accessible to Farragut residents and visitors. He approached Parks & Rec Director Sue Stuhl and said that if the town would create an interpretive sign for the cemetery, the board would foot the bill. The resulting sign is now at the end of a sidewalk that was extended by the town to give visitors pedestrian access to the cemetery. It’s the kind of public-private partnership that’s a win for Pleasant Forest as well as the town.
We don’t know if the Farragut History Walk will make visitors choose Farragut hotels over Cedar Bluff hotels, but we do know that many travelers seek out historical sites. Having members of the community that support our efforts to showcase that history could potentially attract travelers, so we appreciate this gesture from the Pleasant Forest board.
If you haven’t experienced the Farragut History Walk, summer vacation is the perfect occasion. Physical maps are available at the turnaround just before the Farragut Branch Library at Founders Park.
Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut insider.