Sweetwater Tennessee is an attractive small town located about 50 minutes south of Knoxville. Take I-75 South to Exit 60, which is TN Highway 68. Just take Hwy. 68 east for a mile or so and you’ll come across this welcome sign.
Although Sweetwater was incorporated in 1875, the town actually developed in the early 1850’s. The lands that are now part of Sweetwater were noted in a ‘grant of reservation’ to Isaac Vann in “Sweet Water”, dated on 7/10/1817. The grant was from the Cherokee Agency of the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. From what I could find out on the Internet, Isaac had married a Cherokee woman but I’ll need to do more research on this…
This is a former Carriage House for a larger home in Sweetwater. It was donated to the town in 1908 and it served as the town’s library until a new one was built in 1981.
With a population of just under 6,000 residents, Sweetwater is the largest city in Monroe County Tennessee. Development of the town was spurred on by the coming of the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad. By 1852, lots were being sold by I. T. Lenoir for the town of Sweetwater and development centered along the creek itself. Of interest is the fact the I.T. Lenoir was the son of the founder of Lenoir City, the county seat for Loudon County Tennessee.
This is a view of some of the older structures in downtown Sweetwater, dating from 1906. One of these buildings, (I haven’t found out which one yet), houses a still working hand cranked elevator which allegedly still works!
The Sweetwater Valley Antique Store is a better than average ‘booth rental’ co-op place to explore for antiques and collectables. Bobby Todd, the next building down, is a wife grabbing, attention getting, classy gift and antique shop. We are always taking out of town visitors to Bobby Todd’s! For more information, go to http://www.bobbytoddantiques.com/.
This is the old Mascot Hosiery Mill. It was chartered in 1896. Patton Brothers operated the mill until 1967 when it was purchased by Crescent Mill. It’s closed down but the fact that someone has invested in new windows, seems to indicate that there are plans to ‘repurpose’ the building...or perhaps it's just serving as a warehouse. At the moment, the only remnant of the hosiery milling days in Sweetwater is the Sock Outlet Shop located right on US Highway 11 on the south side of the old plant.
Sorry for all the wires in this picture, but my wife and photographer has to work with what she’s given. This is a Tennessee Heritage Tree that’s located in Sweetwater. It is reputed to be the largest Magnolia Tree in the state.
I find this photo to be much more compelling than the overall shot. It shows the ‘age’ of the tree and documents some of its travails along the road to survival.
Two very significant tourist attractions are located in close proximity to Sweetwater. One is the "Great Craigshead Cave", now know as "The Lost Sea". For more information, check it out at http://www.thelostsea.com/. The other place of interest is the Sweetwater Flea Market, which claims to be the world's longest indoor flea market with roughly 500+ booths. For more information, go to http://www.sweetwaterfleamarket.net/.
This whole block consists of the Scripp’s Building. It was built in 1914 and it’s still referred to as the ‘new block’. The restaurant on the Corner is Hunter’s Bakery and Café. It’s a pleasant place to dine. For more information, go to http://huntersbakeryandcafe.com/.
During the Civil War, Sweetwater was a very important transportation center. Military control swung back and forth between the North and the South. Confederate General James Longstreet used the town and the railroad as a staging area for his campaign against Knoxville. Much of the town was destroyed during the war. However, by the mid-1880’s, the town had recovered and it was the largest shipping point between Knoxville and Chattanooga.
This is all that remains of the historic 1893 Mid-Lab building, a 60,000 sq. ft. warehouse that’s just across the tracks from the “new block”. Right after the big Sweetwater Fourth of July fireworks display in 2010, residents observed that this building was ablaze! The city is denying responsibility but the owner of the building has sued both the city and the fireworks display company for $20 million. Sweetwater was lucky that the wind wasn’t swirling around much or the fire would have been much worse. As it was, the “new block” did suffer a bit of roof damage.
There is more for us to research and explore in Sweetwater. We need to locate the Crabtree House, an early stagecoach stop and the Bigg’s house, which was built in the 1820’s. There is a historical museum in town that should be able to fill in the details and resolve or correct what I’ve missed so far.
Being a bit of a train and railroad depot buff, I was interested to note that on 6/15/2011, a Tennessee Senate resolution was passed which supported Sweetwater’s grant application for a Tennessee Department of Transportation grant to build a replica Civil War railway station in the downtown area as a Civil War Discovery Trail Site. It would be a great center piece for the downtown area if it's actually built!