Powell

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As neighborhoods in Knoxville go, Powell may be one of the fastest growing. Recent years have seen quite a bit of development in the area. Nuzzled into northern Knox County between Knoxville, Oak Ridge to the west and Clinton to the northwest, the small unincorporated community has seen considerable growth and change over the years. Powell was settled in the late 1780s by pioneers moving through Tennessee on their way to the north and west. But many of those early travelers stayed behind, lured by fertile farmland and the ample water supply of Beaver Creek. One of the first trading posts in the northern part of Knox County was established here. So was Menifee’s Fort, a log-built structure constructed by Revolutionary War veteran John Menifee to protect from attacks by outlaws and Native Americans. Powell is no longer the sort of place you’re likely to find a log cabin (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The community is between Clinton Highway and Interstate 75. It’s also intersected by Emory Road, which in the not-too-distant future will be widened from Clinton Highway all the way to Tazewell Pike. All that metropolitan thoroughfare activity has brought with it a wide variety of new shopping and other development. It’s a pretty safe bet that the trend will continue. Driving through Powell, you’re likely to see mixture of both the rural and the suburban, and a range of socioeconomic stations. You may spot a mobile home park, for instance, but you’ll also find larger older homes and plenty of new subdivisions. You’ll come across homes that sit on gigantic multiacre parcels of land, where trees provide shade and a great place to hang a porch-style swing. You might see a white wooden fence behind which small donkeys make asses of themselves. Or you might come across newer homes with smaller yards scrunched together suburb-style. Clinton Highway cuts right through Powell. As is often typical of state highways, this thoroughfare plows through once rural land that’s now becoming increasingly urbanized. Clinton Highway connects Powell residents to Target, Walmart and several other national shopping chains and eateries. But it also connects them to curious businesses you could drive by thousands of times and never stop to visit, from junk shops to nurseries selling trees to hole-in-the-wall diners to roadside markets selling watermelons and locally famous Grainger County tomatoes. Powell’s “downtown” area is much the same. There’s your standard fast-food and corporate fare, seemingly reproducing like rabbits. But plenty of older locally owned businesses are hanging on, from martial arts dojos with peeling paint to pizzerias. Also hard to miss is the headquarters of Weigel’s, a local chain of dairy and convenience stores that operates through the East Tennessee area. DeRoyal Industries, a medical product supplier, and Travis Meats, a frozen meat manufacturer, maintain their home bases here as well. Entertainment-wise, Powell isn’t as lively as other Knoxville neighborhoods. But its North Knoxville location isn’t too far from downtown or the University of Tennessee campus. There’s also decent park space, including newish dog- and kid-friendly Powell Station Park, which has play fountains, a small playground, benches and a covered pavilion with picnic tables (there’s even wireless Internet provided by Frontier, a local business). A fairly new 12,000-square-foot branch of the Knox County Public Library also is right off Emory Road. Several churches (a couple of which are quite huge), good local schools and organized recreational sports teams round out the cultural local activities.

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