Present day Callaway’s Landing is a 30 acre remnant of a 150+ year old, 300 acre river bottom family farm in Concord, Tennessee. The main farm house (known as the Big House) constructed in 1911, the marble barn of similar vintage, a post Civil War sharecroppers shack, a World War II vintage apartment built for and used in support of the defense department efforts in Oak Ridge, and a 1940’s style gas station/store stand as mute testimony to the sometimes flowery history of the farm known as Callaway’s Landing.
The Coming of the Callaways
The name Callaway’s Landing can be traced to Shadrach (Shade) Callaway, a Colonel in the Tennessee Militia, and his wife Mary Hendrix Callaway. Shadrach’s father, James Callaway, had sold his farm at Ball Camp, in Knox County, and moved himself and his family to Lonejack, Missouri, near present day Kansas City. This move came in the late 1840‘s or early 1850‘s. Shade did not find Missouri to his liking, however, so he returned to Tennessee, and purchased approximately 300 acres of Tennessee River bottom land including two large islands in west Knox County. Due to a little insider information, Shade just happened to buy property situated along the planned route for the East Tennessee and Georgia main rail line between Knoxville and Atlanta.
A Short History of Callaway’s Landing
These troops appropriated all of the corn and wheat stored there for food, removed the fence rails and lumbered part of the farm for firewood, but otherwise left the family alone. The occupying force made a promise to reimburse the family for what was taken, but attempts to collect for the damages after the war were acknowledged, but never paid. The family retains the hand written receipt for the claim (claim letter). It is commonly believed that the claim was never paid because Papa and both of his brothers fought for the Confederacy.
The Post War Years
Although Callaway’s Landing was divided among Shade's three sons at his death it was James Callaway, commonly known as Papa, that insured that the farm would be passed down through the generations. For a time after the war, Callaway’s Landing was sharecropped. As the century turned from the Nineteenth to the Twentieth, with the farm at full production, Papa and Daddy Ben (his son in-law) leased Callaway’s Ridge for a marble quarry and built a lime kiln there. Seven types of marble were quarried from the ridge, including the “Tennessee Pink” marble that is still so sought after. Family lore holds that some of the marble from the quarry was used in constructing the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C
The Twentieth Century
Sometime during the early 1920’s the quarry closed. The soil overburden had become too great to economically quarry the marble and Tennessee Marble had fallen out of fashion. The lime kiln had already been destroyed by fire. Remains of the lime crusher can still be seen from the bridge over the rail road on Concord Road immediately to the east of the bridge in the Rocky Point portion of Concord Park. .
Papa left his portion of the farm to his son from his first marriage, Sam. Lucinda Callaway (Papa's second wife called Mama) left her portion of the farm to their daughter Mayme. Daddy Ben and Mayme ran the entire farm as a unit raising corn on the two islands and Tennessee walking horses on the upper pastures. The farm stayed productive and solvent through the Great Depression. But, in 1939 at the end of the Depression, the Tennessee Valley Authority condemned all but approximately 50 acres of the farm to construct Fort London Lake and shortly thereafter Knox Co. took land for Concord Rd. which was to run through the farm.
In the early 1940‘s, Daddy Ben took the money he received from TVA, bought the lumber salvaged from the McNutt house which was being demolished because of the lake, and using that lumber and masonry blocks built and then operated Lakeland Market/Esso Service Station on Concord Rd. Lakeside Market has occupied the building from 1970 until today.
In 1943 during WWII, the federal government requested that the people in the East Tennessee area help supply housing for defense workers for a secret project in Anderson Co. Using the remains of the lumber from the McNutt house, Daddy Ben built the Garage/Apartment which was then rented to defense workers from Oak Ridge. It was only after the end of the war that it was revealed that the defense workers had been working on the Manhattan Project.
In the early 1970's after a very nasty legal battle, the First Utility District of Knox County (FUD) condemned 10 acres for a Waste Water Treatment Plant. In 1991, FUD returned for more land. They threatened to condemn 24 ac. of land next to the plant. At that point in time FUD’s preliminary engineering plans showed that only 14 ac. were actually needed. When this was pointed out to the board, the plans were quickly revised (the structures were spread out, but none were added) to show that all 24 ac. would be needed. The Board finally backed down to 10 ac. under pressure from the Governor and the County Executive, and threats from the families attorney to expose the site plan reconfiguration in court
The Twenty-first Century.
In 2004, the First Utility District again embarked on a campaign of land acquisition. FUD demanded more land -- 18 acres including the Big House, the Marble Barn, the Apartment, and the 1970's ranch house. A very nasty battle ensued in which County Mayor Ragsdale and the Knox Co. Government, Congressman Duncan, The Knoxville News Sentinel, several citizens groups, and private citizens came to the family’s aid. The Big House, the Marble Barn, the Garage/Apartment, Sallie Ralston's 1970’s ranch house, and part of the area where the Union Army camped were saved. Eleven acres were lost to the First Utility District including the Sharecropper’s shack site and many acres had to be sold in order to pay for the fight. The Sharecropper’s Shack was moved 200’ in order to keep it from being demolished.
The Big House still belongs to the descendents of the Callaways.
are now actively investigating the possibility of opening the grounds as an
Arboretum and then later restore and open the Big House as a Museum.
Unfortunately as of 2013 we are once again
facing a condemnation crisis. At present the Tennessee Department of
Transportation (TDOT) is planning to take by eminent domain approximately 70 feet
of the front yard along Concord Rd and several of our ancient and magnificent
trees (trunks well over 6 feet in diameter) in order to widen Concord Road.
The saddest part is that the only traffic problem that has existed along
this section of road was solved several years ago with addition of a traffic
circle at Northshore Drive and Concord Road and the actual traffic counts
(number of cars that pass through in a day) along this section of road have
dropped significantly in the last couple of years. Also with the recent change to the school
district boundaries, even less traffic can be anticipated on Concord Road with the beginning of next
school year. In other words they are wasting
tax payer’s money and taking land from us and homes from our neighbors down the road to fix a
problem that does not now and may never exist.
The name Callaway’s Landing can be traced to the early riverboats on the Tennessee River used part of the farm for a landing. The farm soon became known as Callaway’s Landing.
The Founding of Concord, Tennessee
Shade’s cousin, Thomas Callaway, was president of The East Tennessee Virginia and Georgia Railroad, and (according to the family historian) as a favor to his cousin the rail road town of Concord was “laid off” on the James M. Rodgers farm next to Callaway’s Landing in 1854 (History of Tennessee, The Goodspeed Publishing Company, Nashville, TN, 1887, p 883). Shade is credited with building the first dwelling in Concord - a boarding house. That structure was lost to the first fire that destroyed Concord.
Cover of 1985 Concord, Tennessee Phone Book showing the Big House at Callaway's Landing
The Civil War
When the Civil War began, unlike most people in Knox Co. and East Tennessee, the family sided with the South. At the outset of the Civil War, the Callaway’s were one of the few families in Knox Co. to side with the South and all three of Shade's sons fought for the Confederacy.
The Yankee Occupation
In the Fall of 1863, before the Battle of Campbell Station at the height of the Civil War, and on into early 1864, Callaway’s Landing was occupied by Union Army troops of the 60th Illinois and 24th Kentucky Regiments, among others.