About This Place
Oak Ridge is a city in Anderson and Roane counties in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Tennessee, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Knoxville. Oak Ridge's population was 27,387 at the 2000 census. The portion of the city located in Anderson County is included in the Knoxville Metropolitan Area, while the portion located in Roane County is included in the Harriman, Tennessee Micropolitan Statistical Area; both of these areas are components of the Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette, TN Combined Statistical Area. Oak Ridge's nicknames are the Atomic City, the Secret City, the Ridge and the City Behind the Fence.
Oak Ridge was established in 1942 as a production site for the Manhattan Project—the massive U.S. government operation that developed the atomic bomb. Scientific development still plays a crucial role in the city's economy and culture in general.
The earliest substantial occupation of the Oak Ridge area occurred during the Woodland period (c. 1000 B.C.–1000 A.D.), although artifacts dating to the Paleo-Indian period have been found throughout the Clinch Valley. Two Woodland mound sites—the Crawford Farm Mounds and the Freels Farm Mounds—were uncovered in the 1930s as part of the Norris Basin salvage excavations. Both sites were located just southeast of the former Scarboro community. The Bull Bluff site, which was occupied during both the Woodland and Mississippian (c. 1000–1600 A.D.) periods, was uncovered in the 1960s in anticipation of the construction of Melton Hill Dam. Bull Bluff is a cliff located immediately southeast of Haw Ridge, opposite Melton Hill Park. The Oak Ridge area was largely uninhabited by the time Euro-American explorers and settlers arrived in the late 18th century, although the Cherokee claimed the land as part of their hunting grounds.