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July 28, 2017

Washburn resident Toni Engstrom addressed commissioners during Monday’s meeting to ask for their help preserving Grainger County history.

Photo by Tracey Wolfe

North side history preservation requested

Tracey Wolfe
Grainger Today Editor

RUTLEDGE – Washburn resident Toni Engstrom addressed the Grainger County Commission during its meeting, Monday, to ask for assistance with preserving Grainger County history.
Engstrom told commissioners she is a member of the Grainger County Historic Society, but is not an officer or a representative of that organization. She said she was there to make a personal appeal to commissioners.
She asked commissioners for help to establish a space on the north side of the mountain where historical artifacts and photos could be displayed. She pointed out the historical displays in other areas of Grainger County, such as the Janeway cabin in Blaine, the Grainger County Archives and Museum in Rutledge and Bean Station’s newly established history museum. She said she would appreciate the establishment of a place for the display of north side Grainger County history in Washburn.
She said the Northside Community Center could not be used for that, and asked if space could be provided inside the Washburn EMS station. Alternatively, she asked for a utility trailer to be provided, insured by the county, that could be filled with historical items and moved to schools and events, such as festivals, to display historical items from the north side of Clinch Mountain.
Engstrom also asked for assistance to help preserve Indian Cave. She said the cave in its current state could pose a danger to those who might trespass there and get lost, and is at risk from vandalism. She spoke about the cave’s history of having been used by Indians and prehistoric indigenous people, which she said was supported by artifacts excavated from the cave. She said the cave was used by a French trader who traded with Indians at the beginning of the 18th century, and for bat guano mining after the civil war.
The cave is privately owned, but she said the owners might be interested in a long-term lease of the property to make the area a county park.
Commissioners expressed their opposition to leasing the cave from its owner due to the liability that would accompany leasing the property.
Engstrom also asked commissioners to join the historic society, at a cost of $20 per membership.
Commissioners took no official action regarding Engstrom’s requests, but several commissioners offered funds for membership in the organization.

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