During the first half of Rockwood’s existance, it was a thriving town and had more industry than most other cities nearby. Between the Roane Iron Company mines and furnaces, the Rockwood Woolen Mill, the Rockwood Stove Works and all of the supporting industries, Rockwood had jobs for everyone. The town, named for William O. Rockwood, prospered well over its first fifty years.
When the Great Depression arrived, it was devastating locally but the true great decline for Rockwood would be due to the 1956 National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Where once travelers drove through Rockwood on The Old Dixie Highway, finding meals, lodging and services, they now only glance down from I-40 and observe the once great town as they pass by.
The Historic Preservation Committee of Rockwood 2000 was created to assist in the preservation of Rockwood’s unique history. Whether it is assisting in the research of historic buildings, drafting a nomination for the National Register of Historic Places, interviewing long time residents and recording their stories, or simply collecting and preserving photographs and documents, Rockwood 2000 hopes to become the repository of much of the history of Rockwood.
Historic Preservation Projects
Tennessee Highway Patrol Museum
In the early 1930’s, the State of Tennessee started a state-wide police force called the Tennessee Highway Patrol. In 1936, a Tennessee Highway Patrol Sub-Station was built in Rockwood, Tennessee, facing Kingston Avenue, which in the 1930’s, was part of the Dixie Highway. When this Station was originally built, the State Trooper’s mode of transportation was a motorcycle.
As automobile traffic increased, wider, non-residential, roads were needed and U.S. Highways 27 & 70 were moved to the newly created Gateway Avenue to relieve traffic congestion on Kingston Avenue. In 1954, a second Patrol Station was built facing the new Highway 27, and the 1936 building was used for storage and then abandoned.
In an effort to save this unique historic structure, Rockwood 2000 began researching its history and preparing to restore it. As part of the restoration process, the building was nominated to The National Register of Historic Places and was awarded that historic status in 2001. In 2003 the restoration was actually begun. The 1936 Patrol Station is now a museum dedicated to the men and women of The Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Anyone wishing to tour the museum may do so by appointment only. Please visit our Contact page.
Historic Preservation Committee
The Rockwood 2000 Historic Preservation Committee is currently focused on recording and documenting the stories of many long time residents: a small town welcomes a new bride from Prince Edward Island, a soldier returns from World War II with amazing stories, people who remember when downtown Rockwood was a beehive of activity.
Perhaps, as we reveal what did exist here, others may find the desire to join together and rebuild Rockwood into the great city that it once was. We have Historic Preservationists within our group who will be glad to discuss proper preservation techniques, National Register nominations, and the economic benefits of preserving rather than replacing. We hope to help owners of buildings or homes see the value in keeping something historically correct rather than simply covering it in vinyl siding or constructing improper additions.
If you wish to help us in documenting and researching the history of Rockwood, please come and join us!! Even if you think history is boring, you could help film interviews, edit videos, take photographs, and anything else you may imagine. You may also find that historical research can be exciting and rewarding.