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'The Battle' residents, relics remembered
Town to recognize Virtue Mill area via greenway

The Battle of Campbell Station, circa 1863, began near Virtue Mill, a central hub for commerce and socialization in the 19th century, according to Nic Arning.

Arning, a historic preservationist who helped lead the effort to restore the mill — located along Turkey Creek about one-half mile north of Turkey Creek road — before it burned down on June 3, 2002, may see the mill get recognition.

“That was one of the bloodiest points of The Battle of Campbell Station,” said Sue Stuhl, town of Farragut Leisure Services director, about the mill area, which the Town plans to recognize through a greenway grant.

“We have applied for a Recreation Trails Program grant … for a greenway to go a short distance along Virtue Road from the bridge that’s there across from Vista subdivision north to where we would put a small parking area, where you could pull in two or three spots.

“And have an historic marker there that talks about The Battle of Campbell Station,” Stuhl added.

Built “probably during the 1840s” and in operation until the 1940s according to Arning, the mill’s surviving structures from the fire are its wheel and a stone foundation — though lost among small trees and thick brush to any curious motorists on Virtue Road.

“The grant and this project does not include cleaning out that area where the mill is,” Stuhl said. “That may come at a later date.”

Arning, whose activist interest in the mill goes back more than 10 years, said, “There’s a lot of history there, it’s just that a lot of citizens don't know about it.

“It was sort of like a combinations of City Hall and Kmart and Walmart, drug store and maybe a mail office,” he added.

Estimating a $70,000 price tag to rebuild the roughly 20-by-35-foot, two-story building would be an “unrealistic” Town expense, “Realistically, I would just like to see the site preserved,” Arning said. “The stone foundation walls are still there, but they’re crumbling.”

Arning said he’d like to see the brush and trees cleared to allow public view of the mill, and the area generally cleaned up, “and having inside the footprint graveled.”

The site features “a little bit of a spring right there also. I've got a grandson, and I want him to see a spring, so he’ll know where water comes from,” he said.

The spring could be utilized “to where you could have water for people on the walking trail," Arning added.

Saying he and other “pro-mill” activists clashed with Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen in the early 2000s about restoration efforts, Arning added his supporters failed to utilize enough help from Farragut Folklife Museum and other local historians possibly sympathetic to their cause.

“We went about it the wrong way,” Arning said. “Maybe we didn't pursue them enough.”

As for approaching FBMA or Farragut Municipal Planning Commission for any additional site suggestions, “I thought I might show up at one meeting,” Arning said. “I don't want to be a rabble-rouser or naysayer.”

Arning said his supporters made up “a very little group, I'd say about eight volunteers” prior to the mill burning. Those volunteers currently aren’t organized, he added.


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