On Wednesday, May 21, 2014, we took a Day Ride to Dunlap, TN, just north of Chattanooga. In Dunlap is the Coke Ovens Park- one of the most unusual sights we’ve been to.
Jeff talks about our ride in this short video:
We left our home around 9:30 am and it was cool and overcast. We took Western Avenue and stopped briefly to fill our tanks.
Western Avenue took us into Oak Ridge, where we took 58 to Kingston.
From Kingston, we took 70 into Rockwood.
We rode through Rockwood, then took 70 west all the way to Crossville. In Crossville, we stopped for fuel and a snack then took 127 south.
We stopped briefly in Pikeville. Pikeville has a quaint downtown with several places to shop and eat. But today, we only had time for a couple of photos.
After leaving Pikeville, we continued south to Dunlap.
We rode through Dunlap and stopped at Land’s Restaurant.
The place was crowded and the food was really good!
After finishing lunch we rode back through Dunlap and turned onto Mountain View Road.
Mountain View Road took us the one mile to the Dunlap Coke Ovens Park.
Here’s a short video about the Bluegrass Festivals that occur in the park:
Here is the information about the park from the Coke Ovens website (link HERE):
“In 1899, a coal mine was opened on Fredonia Mountain overlooking Dunlap, Tennessee. For the next quarter century, the mining operations grew into an industrial complex that contributed greatly to the thriving economy and evolving social structure of a small town.
Constructed at the base of the mountain were a series of “beehive” ovens, designed to turn coal into coke for use in the iron and steel foundries of nearby Chattanooga. The first 24 ovens and the company store were built in 1902. Then, in 1906, 144 ovens and a steam powered coal washer were constructed. In 1916 a new railroad up Little Brush Creek created the demand for more coke production. Along with a one million dollar coal washer, 100 more beehive coke ovens were built on the east end of the site. These last ovens and the coal washer were used very little due to the company filing for bankruptcy in the mid 1920’s. A total of 268 stone ovens had been built when, in 1927, the mining operations were shut down due to failing coal prices and the onset of the Depression.
The coke ovens lay dormant for more than 50 years, exposed to the ravages of nature, garbage dumpers and rock thieves who dismantled stone from the ovens. In the mid 1980’s local citizens formed a historical group and began efforts to clear away the debris. Today the ruins of the once thriving complex cover most of the 62-acre park. The property was donated, for preservation, to the Historical Association by Bowater Southern Paper Company. The sandstone and brick walls of the ovens still stand much as they looked when masons built them. Excavation work continues to uncover more of the ovens. The park has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is maintained by the Coke Ovens Museum Association and The Sequatchie Valley Historical Association volunteers.”
Here is a video explaining what we are seeing. (For the facts, please see the official Coke Ovens website HERE.)
Here is another video:
We rambled around Cove Ovens Park for about an hour. Unfortunately, the museum is only open on the weekends, but still yet, there was plenty to see. This was truly one of the most fascinating landmarks we’ve seen and we highly recommend you plan a trip here!
We left the park, rode back through Dunlap, then took 111 south toward Walden Ridge. We stopped briefly at a gorgeous scenic overlook off 111.
We made this short video from the overlook:
We continued on 111, up and over Walden Ridge and into Soddy Daisy. We then took 27 north into Dayton and then on into Spring City. We stopped in Spring City for fuel and an ice cream.
From Spring City, we took 302 to 68 and stopped briefly at Watts Bar Dam.
From Watts Bar Dam, we continued into Sweetwater and then on to Madisonville. In Madisonville we took 411 through Vonore.
On long rides, it’s a good idea to take lots of small breaks. This keeps you alert and just makes the ride more fun. From Vonore, we traveled on into Maryville where we took 129 back to Knoxville.
We got home a little after 7pm and our total ride was 270 miles.
Jeff wraps up the ride in this video:
You can see our entire list of Day Rides HERE.