…continuing with our exploration of parts of East Tennessee, specifically the Cumberland Plateau, that we hadn’t visited before.
The following are a combination of random ‘finds’ plus places listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The first photo shows the Dunlap Community Building from the side along Cherry Street in Dunlap Tennessee. The second view is the front of the structure on Rankin Street. The building was constructed by the National Youth Administration (NYA) between 1938 and 1942. It was a Depression Era project of the NYA designed to employ youths in Sequatchie County while teaching them job skills for future employment.
This 2-story building was constructed with limestone quarried by hand from a local mountain, then cut and shaped using hand tools. A total of 96 young men worked on the project, 10 to 20 at a time. The building was put in use in 1940 but the finishing touches weren’t completed until 1942. At issue was funding and the availability of materials. Originally, this structure housed government offices, a dentist office, the American Legion meeting room and it also served the Home Demonstration Club. The Community Building is now home to the Sequatchie County Library.
The National Youth Administration was a Great Depression “New Deal” agency sponsored by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Its mission was to provide work and education for Americans between the age of 16 and 25. NYA projects were locally controlled, unlike the projects directed by the Works Progress Administration, the Public Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. To learn more, you can go to .
This is the Sequatchie County Courthouse in Dunlap Tennessee. Although it looks fairly new, it was actually built in 1911 for $12,000! That means that the courthouse is celebrating its one hundred and eighth birthday this year. The county has a population of about 14,900 and Dunlap has approximately 5,200 residents.
Sequatchie County was created in 1857 via a controversial circumvention of Tennessee’s constitution. It was originally part of Hamilton County and it was named after the Sequatchie Valley, which had in turn been named for a Cherokee chief. During the Civil War, the county’s largest action involved a raid in 1863 by Confederate General Joseph Wheeler in which his forces burned almost 1,000 wagons and took possession of a large quantity of local livestock to feed his forces.
As we headed out of Dunlap to continue our drive, I put on the brakes when I spotted the military equipment on display at the Sequatchie County Veterans Memorial Park. The memorial park is a local project that began in February of 2010 when a group of local veterans decided that a memorial for area veterans was needed. At that time, of the 600 or so local citizens who’d served in World War II, only about 20 were still alive.
This particular aircraft is a Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. This single-seat subsonic carrier-capable attack aircraft was developed for the US Navy and the Marine Corps in the early 1950s. This was a very versatile and successful aircraft with a total of 2,960 being built between 1954 and 1979. Besides the United States, the A-4 served in the air forces of Israel (until 2015), Brazil, Malaysia, Kuwait, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.
In addition to the A-4 Skyhawk, this photo also features 2 3-ton anchors provided for display by the US Navy and a US Army M-113 Armored Personnel Carrier. Variants of the M-113 are still in service with the USA and many other governments around the world. Roughly 80,000 of the M-113 have been built since production started in 1960.
This is a Vietnam era UH-1C “Huey” helicopter. This version of the original model of this type of Bell helicopter was first introduced in the early fall of 1965. Only about 766 of this model were built as Bell was about to introduce its AH-1 “Cobra” gunship. The UH-1C was still a favorite with many as its door gunners could lay down fire towards the rear of the helicopter and it provided extra sets of eyes on enemy activity.
The efforts that was expended by local volunteers to procure and refurbish this “Huey” helicopter were epic. There are many, many photos on the Sequatchie County Veterans Memorial Park Facebook page that show the work in various stages…and then there are photos of the Huey being transported to the park and placed on display.
The Bell UH-1 Iroquois (nicknamed the Huey) was first introduced into the US Army in 1959. Around 7,000 of these aircraft were deployed in the Vietnam War. A total of more than 16,000 Huey helicopters have been built and they are still in use in the US military as well as many other armed forces around the world.
This is a real Air Force classic. It’s a fully restored T-33/F-80 “Shooting Star”, one of the very earliest US fighter jets. It took nearly 2 years for local volunteers to restore this aircraft…and in late October 2018 it was towed down US 127 in Dunlap to the Veterans Park. It was the final piece completing the display honoring area veterans. A special National Guard trailer was needed to complete the move through Dunlap. Appropriately, it was officially unveiled on Veterans Day, 11/11/18.
Originally designated as the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star, this was the first jet fighter used operationally by the US Army Air Forces. It saw limited service in Italy just before the end of World War II. With the creation of the Air Force as a separate military entity, the Army’s P-80 was re-designated as the F-80 and it saw extensive combat in the Korean Conflict. The closely related T-33 2-seat Shooting Star trainer remained in service with the US Air Force well into the 1980s and the last one wasn’t retired until April of 1997. Over 7,000 variants of this aircraft were built.
While the military hardware is interesting and represents the various branches of the military, the most significant feature of the Sequatchie County Veterans Memorial Park is this wall next to the A-4 Skyhawk. It is inscribed with the names of over 1,700 area veterans who have served in American military conflicts beginning with the Revolutionary War and continuing all the way through the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This park and the wall in particular are a fitting tribute to those who have served to protect and defend the USA! The Sequatchie County Veterans Memorial Park has a large site on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Nonprofit-Organization/Sequatchie-County-Veterans-Memorial-Park-115319681863938/.
I took this photo of this sign welcoming us to Gruetli-Laager Tennessee just because the name is so unusual. Actually, Gruetli-Laager (population about 1,700) consists of 2 towns that were incorporated into a single city. Gruetli was founded by German speaking Swiss immigrants in 1869. It was part of a greater initiative by an organization known as the Tennessee “Kolonisation Gesellschaft” to establish Swiss colonies on the Cumberland Plateau.
Laager was originally just a railroad stopover established in 1918 in the hills just east of Gruetli that was originally called “Henley’s Switch”. I couldn’t find anything that explained why it was renamed “Laager”. Of course, ‘lager’ is a type of beer and ‘laager’ is a South African Boer/Afrikaans term referring to a defensive camp formed by a circle of wagons. Both words have Germanic roots…
Then there is the nearby town of Soddy-Daisy…but that’s another story.
We followed along a back road searching for another place that was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Sadly, this was it…
This two and a half story weatherboard frame house on Colony Road in Grundy County Tennessee was built ca. 1875 by one of the earliest Swiss settlers in the area. It served as a residence for the family and as an inn on the McMinnville-Chattanooga stagecoach line.
The builder and owner, Christian Marugg, served as postmaster and storekeeper, plus he operated a printing press and made award winning wine. Christian’s descendants continued to operate the Stagecoach Inn until 1915. It served as a social gathering place for several years in the early 1900s, with dances being held every weekend on the first floor. The second floor had 8 bedrooms for travelers. This crumbling old inn is the last known commercial structure that remains from the original Swiss settlement of Gruetli.
That’s all for now. Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave