Scott County Museum: Created and Curated by Students
By Guest Blogger: Dave Jones
My wife and I love the activities and attractions found in the city; however, the stories we often share are the tales from a road trip along the rural roads of Tennessee. It is like driving out of the sun, where activities are “hot,” and into the shade, where the experiences are relaxing and sweet just like my iced tea.
I heard about the Museum of Scott County in Huntsville from the locals who often bragged about it being built and operated by the students from Scott County High School.
A site on the Top Secret Trail of the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways initiative, the three-acre complex, located behind Scott County High School, includes the Museum of Scott County, the U.S.S. Tennessee Museum, the Children’s Learning Lodge, the Howard Baker Law Museum and a heritage village with live animals. The value of the complex is estimated to exceed over one million dollars.
The museum is a perfect example of teachers, students, parents and community collaborating to teach and preserve the heritage of their homeland. Jim Barna Log Systems of Oneida donated three log structures but the Trades and Industry class at Scott High School actually assembled the buildings. The classes involved in the museum range from anthropology, building trades, Appalachian studies, home economics, Civil War history and Appalachian Music to science, computer technology, and others.
“Predator or Prey,” a display depicting a bear confronting a prehistoric hunter as it might have looked like in Scott County 5,000 years ago, greets visitors upon entering the main building. All of the clothes on the hunter are made from deer hide that was tanned, cut and sewn together by the students. Also inside is a pioneer playroom, artifacts from the prehistoric era uncovered by the schools anthropology students, a tribute to the war veterans of Scott County, a wildlife display, a coal mining display and more.
Next door, the U.S.S Tennessee Museum honors the veterans of this battleship with the largest collection of artifacts in the world. Outside is the ship’s bell, which was brought to Scott County in 1977 by Scott County’s favorite son, Senator Howard Baker Jr. The museum’s curator is Paul Dawson, whose father, Lee, was a Navy photographer aboard the U.S.S. Tennessee during World War II.
As news traveled about the museum project, neighbors began donating farm equipment and authentic log structures that had been abandoned and were ready for demolition. Today, there is a frontier with buildings, a playground, small animals and even an out-house.
The Children’s Learning Lodge is the latest addition to the complex which is self-paced for guests or can be teacher driven for school groups. Geared for children ages 4-15, children can explore how electricity works, pulleys and fulcrums, biological sciences, and environmental science. It contains a veterinarian office, a grocery store, a crime lab and more.
The Museum of Scott County is a one-hour drive north of Knoxville and is located behind Scott County High School off Highway 63 at 400 Scott High Drive. It’s open during normal school hours and noon to 5 p.m. EST Saturdays in October.
Other popular destinations in the region include Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Historic Rugby, Brimstone Recreation, and others.
Have you been to the Scott County Museum? What’d you think? Let me know in the comments below!
About the author: Dave Jones is the East Tennessee Regional Manager for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, headed by Commissioner Susan Whitaker. He serves as liaisons between the state’s agency and the tourism assets between Chattanooga and Tri-Cities, including all 34 counties of East Tennessee.