By Mike Steely
Not all of us live in apartments or subdivision. A large portion of Knox County residents live in small neighborhoods or communities that often get little mention. Many local people drive through these places everyday and probably don’t know where they are or what they are missing.
Sunday drives are great for finding out who and where your county neighbors are and what’s in their special little enclaves. Solway and Dixie-Lee Junction, in extreme western Knox County, are good examples. Both these neighborhoods are, for most people, “pass by or pass through” areas.
Solway is comfortable except for traffic
Solway is that area where Western Avenue (or Oak Ridge Highway if you prefer) intersects Pellissippi Parkway. Between there and the bridge across Melton Hill Lake is Solway. I’ve noticed that some Solway residents prefer to say to out-of-area people that they live in or near Oak Ridge. In fact, Anderson County is just across the bridge.
The Solway area also stretches over to the lake to the west and along Solway Road south to about Pellissippi College and east along old Emory Road. To the east is the Karns Community and to the south is Hardin Valley.
The stretch of Pellissippi Highway through Solway has convenience stores, some small shops, and some empty stores. Nearby are unique businesses like Solway Sporting Goods, Steward Home Inspection, and Nature’s Best Organic.
Nature’s Best Organic features premium mulch, compost and blended soils. They also have all sizes of rock from pea gravel to 5-inch stone and produce playground mulch. The company is at 8707 Joe Daniel Road just east before the Western Avenue-Pellissippi junction.
Everett Biddle and his wife live on Old Solway Ferry Road and he said, “Solway is a good place to live, lots of older folks.”
“I built here in 1971 because I found a lakefront property,” he says. He explains that many people there have Oak Ridge addresses although they live in Knox County. He said if you try to find someone’s address there on your GPS as “Oak Ridge” you will get nothing.
He said crime is low there but traffic after 4 p.m. is too heavy for locals to get out and go anywhere. “When they let the (Oak Ridge) plants out you can’t get onto the highway. I’ve waited 20 or 30 minutes just to get going,” he said.
“Everyone’s nice and friendly here,” Biddle said.
Churches in the Solway area include Faith Promise-Pellissippi Campus, Branch Hill Baptist, Smith Grove Baptist, True Light Missionary Baptist, Oak Ridge Baptist, Solway Church of God, and Solway Baptist Church.
Dixie Lee Junction is jumping!
The old meets the new at Dixie Lee Junction. It’s as far west as you can go in Knox County. The old intersection of Highway 11 and Highway 70, famed in song and story, is booming today with new buildings, new roads, and new people.
Many of us think of the Dixie Lee Junction community as beginning at Fox Den Road on Kingston Pike and stretching down to Highway 321. The neighborhood is split between Loudon and Knox County and Farragut stretches through that part of the county until the county line in the heart of Dixie Lee.
Why is it called Dixie Lee Junction?
Simple. Before there was a designated national highway numbered system you had Dixie Highway running north and south and Lee Highway running east and west. When the highways joined in Knoxville they ran together through town and westward where they split, thus the name.
The same is sort of true today with Interstates 75 and 40 combining in Knoxville and running west to split just northwest of the original “junction.” In the years before the interstates were built Dixie Lee Junction was the “last chance” for motels, food, and drink as you headed south.
Today the neighborhood, like Solway, is for most people a “pass through” area, but the number of new businesses, the developing subdivisions, and the pace there is quickening. It is becoming a small shopping area for West Knox and North Loudon county residents. Depending on which side of the county line the homes or business are, they can carry either a Farragut or Lenoir City address.
Companies like Farragut Lawn and Tractor, Town Framery, Dixie Lee Wine and Liquor, Lands and Homes Magazine, Y-12 Credit Union, and Cool Sports Icearium call it home. The Renaissance complex there houses many companies and also hosts the Dixie Lee Farmer’s Market is there each Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon.
“It’s our 7th season and time for tomatoes, squash, and fresh vegetables. Everything is local from producers and gardens within 50 miles,” Jeff Cannon told The Focus about the market that he and his wife, Virginia, operate.
“We also have jams, jellies, meats, eggs, and crafts like wood turning, blacksmithing, soaps, lotions, and jewelry,” he said. There’s membership fee for setting up and you can contact the Dixie Lee Farmer’s Market at jeff.dixieleefarmersmarket.com or call him at 816-3028.
A new building is quickly going up next to the Renaissance that will house a bank and Edsouth, a non-profit group that finds funding for education beyond high school graduation.
Dixie Lee Junction was, for years, the home of The Court Café, where Southern lunches were popular among business people from the area as well as locals. The building is vacant now. Some of the buildings, like the former Farragut Lawn and Tractor business that moved just across the county line next door, are being renovated and readied for new tenants.
Watts Road is currently being extended to connect with Old Stage Road and should increase mobility in the community.
The Mayor Bob Leonard Park on Watts Road just north of Dixie Lee Junction has multi-sports fields with a playground, concession stand, paved walking trails, etc. within the 50 acre Farragut Park.
Other businesses at Dixie Lee Junction include Ace Hardware, Summit View of Farragut, Subway, several convenience stores, First National Bank, Dixie Lee Fireworks (on the Loudon County side of the neighborhood), and The Fireside and Patio Shop.
The Junction Plants and Produce is an outlet for plants from Pope’s Plant Farm in Greenback and at the site of the former Dixie Lee Greenhouse.
“We feature annuals, seasonal, and some perennials, all from our greenhouses. We also have Florida tomatoes and will have Blount County tomatoes in two or three weeks,” The Junction manager Ben Blackwood said.
He said the Dixie Lee Junction location was a “good marriage” for the produce and plant market.