Namesake: Concord in Knox County

7:23 AM, Sep 9, 2011   |    comments
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The Tennessee River and Fort Loudon Lake floats the boats of hundreds of outdoorsmen in West Knox County.  The water's edge makes the area around the Concord Marina and the historic Village of Concord an attractive place to call home.

"The lake is definitely an attraction with fishing, skiing, and the convenience of that recreation," said Mac Abel, a longtime resident of Concord.  "Railroad tracks run between the village downtown and the edge of the water so it is not exactly on the lake.  But a few blocks away the Concord Park has direct access to the water."

Abel retired almost 30 years ago from his role as associate director of libraries at the University of Tennessee.  However, his work with literature continued when he wrote a book on the history of the old homes in Concord.  His late wife illustrated the book with drawings of more than 40 houses.

"We called the book Concord: Where time stood still.  It traces the history of ownership of the homes that were more than 50 years old when we wrote the book in 1987.  It has some history in there, but Realtors have appreciated it more than anyone because it saves them a lot of time researching prior ownership," said Abel. 

The book includes a profile of Abel's home, which was built in 1866.  The community of Concord was established in 1854.  In those days, there was no Fort Loudon Lake.  The main attraction was fertile farmland near a creek and river bed.

The community boomed when trains began rolling through West Knox County and the main local stop was in downtown Concord.

"The train depot in Concord was one of the largest between Knoxville and Chattanooga.  Having the railroad here meant. West Knox County had a Concord address because the post office was located downtown.  Concord was 15 miles away from Knoxville back then, so Concord was a major hub for all kinds of freight and shipping for people in this area."

As for the name of the village, Abel said there are a couple of theories for how it got its name.  One story credits the railroad for delivering the name.

"Either a train engineer or road-bed engineer thought it looked like his old hometown of Concord up in the Northeast," said Abel.

Another story predates the railroad and attributes the Concord's name to a local church.

"James Rodgers established the town and he was a member of the local Concord Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  'Concord' was a common name used by churches because the word means 'harmony.'   That harmony in terms of the Christian Spirit of a community could have seemed like a logical and fitting name for a member of that congregation to apply to the area as a whole," said Abel. 

Whatever the source of the name, the village and its large train depot hummed along with considerable growth throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

"At one time this village was very prosperous, especially during the marble boom. There were several marble quarries nearby that shipped freight out of Concord.  The marble industry here went away during the Great Depression because people began searching for less expensive building materials," said Abel.

While the 1930s economic downturn stopped the marble industry in its tracks, in the 1940s a portion of Concord physically went under when TVA built dams that flooded the area with Ford Loudon Lake. 

"There was a lot of unrest at that time because people didn't know the extent of the lake.  Some people thought they might have to move cemeteries, but that was not the case because most of the town was already on higher ground.  The lake was not a traumatic experience for Concord," said Abel.  "They elevated the railroad tracks.  The foundations of a few old buildings are under the water."

The arrival of the lake and elevation of the railroad tracks eliminated the train depot in Concord.  In the time since then, the interest in Concord has changed to a residential attraction because the village has not changed at all.  Today the village offers harmony in a setting where time stands still while the surrounding areas in West Knox County boom and sprawl with growth. 

"There have been very few changes in Concord over the past good many years.  The village is on the national register of historic sites and we maintain the architecture in accordance to historic zoning rules," said Abel.  "There are rarely any homes available in the village.   Most people in the community enjoy the peacefulness of the area, and yet it's not so far from civilization. In terms of a pleasant place to live, it is indeed Concord."

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Note: Namesake is the renamed title of the series formerly known as 'Why do they call it that?'

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