Emily and I have made significant headway towards our goal of hiking all 40 miles of the South Knoxville Urban Wilderness trails. Last weekend we did around four miles during our second visit to the Ross Marble Natural Area.
As you walk the trails here, through woods and within sound of running water, on paths bordered by wildflowers, it’s only the discarded blocks of marble that remind you of the Big Production that once went on here, back when Knoxville was called “The Marble City.” Which is kind of the point:
As the sign above points out, the quarry is “a terrific example of how nature can reclaim itself if given the chance.” And aren’t we all so lucky that the folks at Ijams have helped make that happen for us?
As the above sign states, most of this area is wild, unstructured, untamed, even with the reminders of Man’s interference:
As usual, for me, the wildflowers were the biggest attraction:
I was also intrigued by the landscape.
We lived in South Knoxville many years ago, when the big kids were small, and one day on a whim I pulled into the Fort Dickerson . . . park? area? I don’t know what you would have called it back then, when it was still pretty sketchy. But I was curious, and so we went to the overlook and got our first sight of a quarry lake.
I was amazed. What was this magical place? Here is was, a couple of minutes from downtown, and I had never even heard of it. It looked to me like something in Scotland, maybe, but certainly not anything that belonged in Knoxville. I used to love bringing people there to show them and they were always as enthralled and shocked as I had been.
Now Mead’s Quarry, adjacent to Ross, is super popular, with people swimming and paddle boating and crowds swarming. And it’s beautiful too. So as we headed down the path on our first visit to the Ross Quarry area, we were expecting to see another beautiful lake, and we were excited.
So let me go ahead and clue y’all in: there is no lake. We walked and walked and WALKED and I kept saying we must be getting close and then it was we must have missed it somehow . . . but what it turns out is that there is more than one kind of abandoned quarry, and although we didn’t find a lake, it was beautiful all the same, and also somehow otherworldly.
So take a walk in South Knoxville some time soon and expect surprises around every bend in the trail.
For more walking adventures, see below: