May 30 2007
10:03 pm
By: Elrod  shortURL

I drove the entire length of Kingston Pike today, from UT to Dixie Lee Junction. It is, indeed, the longest strip mall I've ever seen. But I was pleasantly surprised at how many independent businesses there were along the way. It wasn't all big box hell as most suburban strips tend to be. It also was much greener than suburban strips of this ilk usually are. Maybe my years in dreadfully flat Chicagoland have soured me on the possibilities of suburban beautification but I was quite surprised to see such a heavily commercialized strip with actual live trees astride it.

Oh, and the Dixie Lee Baptist Church may just be the most Southern-named place on Earth. Of course the name has to do with the old crossroads of Lee Highway and Dixie Highway and not to any particulary "Southernness" but still, the name is pretty neat in its own way.

I also saw Lenoir City for the first time. What gives the right of small villages like Lenoir City and Tracy City the right to use the word "City" in their names?

Stick Thrower's picture

using "City"

Do you really think we need more 'villes around here?

Elrod's picture

How about "town"

How about "town" or "burgh".

smalc's picture

In TN, there are only

In TN, there are only "cities". If a place is incorporated it is a city. There aren't other designations as in some other states. (try to tell that to Farragut though, they insist on being called the Town of Farragut).

Terry Troll's picture

I remember in the 1950's,

I remember in the 1950's, every July my Grandfather and I would make the pilgrimage from Fountain City (which was not a city, btb) to Dixie Lee Junction to buy fireworks. Closest place I guess.

Bbeanster's picture

We always went to Union

We always went to Union County -- Lower Maynardville (Ville is always pronounced Vul, btw) -- for fireworks.
I remember riding in the back of my daddy's pickup truck to the fireworks store with a bunch of my siblings and our dog, Bill Johnson. Halfway home, Bill Johnson, who was standing in the cab-end of the truck bed, decided to take a leak. The blowback was indescribable. At that stage of my life, I'd never heard of the term "golden shower," but later on, that's what it always put me in mind of.

Tess's picture

Dixie Lee

I thought Dixie Lee junction was named for Dixie Lee--Bing Crosby's wife who came from that area.

I guess I am the only person old enough to know that, or to even remember who Bing Crosby was!

smalc's picture

From the wiki article: Rumor

From the wiki article:

Rumor has it that the town was named for Dixie Lee, wife of Bing Crosby, who hailed from nearby Harriman, Tennessee. However, Jack Neely, historical reporter for the Knoxville Metro Pulse newspaper, writes that the name came from Dixie and Lee Highways

R. Neal's picture

Wasn't there a Dixie Lee who

Wasn't there a Dixie Lee who was head of the Atomic Energy Commission or the ORNL or something?

redmondkr's picture

That was Dixie Lee Ray,

That was Dixie Lee Ray, later Governor of Washington.

She used to bring a poodle with her when she toured the K-25 plant as Secretary of Energy and somebody had to babysit the dog in the Administration Building. It couldn't tolerate the noise frequency of the stage compressors in the gaseous diffusion complex.

Egads: I'm older than I thought. She was around before it became the DOE. It was the AEC.

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Tess's picture

I am older than Jack

It was named for Dixie Lee from Harriman, as I am.

Elrod's picture

Dixie Highway

If you travel south from Detroit, Cleveland, Louisville or Chicago you'll find that one of the major arteries is referred to as "Dixie Highway." The Dixie Highway system was created in the 1920s and promoted by Florida developers to lure Midwesterners to newly developed South Florida.

Lee Highway is the old name of US 29-211-11 from the Arlington Estate (now Arlington Cemetery in Virginia) of Robert E. Lee to New Orleans.

The Dixie Highways and Lee Highway met just west of Knoxville, which is why there were tons of old school "motor courts" for southbound tourists. The 11-70 Motor Court is still there. It's also why there are tons of stores and restaurants. It was a perfect stop for Northerners just before climbing the Smoky Mountains en route to Florida.

Elrod's picture

Speaking of Dixie Lee Fireworks


This website is Southern Kitch at its best. Make sure to read the "About Dixie Lee" tab. I'm guessing that the founder, W. M. (Benny) Goodman was Jewish and had connections to Florida (my Jewish grandmother considered moving to Florida in the 1930s but stayed in New York instead). Many of the tourists passing between the Midwest and Florida were Jewish and I bet one of them was Benny Goodman, who decided the Dixie Lee Junction was a perfect spot to set up a fireworks business. Confederate Jewry! The Dixie Lee Fireworks operation is still in the Goodman family. I'm pretty inspired to check the place out.

smalc's picture

Nice site. Since locals

Nice site.
Since locals mainly shoot fireworks 2 to 3 times a year, the decision was made to become a seasonal business.

Huh, my teenage neighbor shoots them 2 to 3 times a month.

Factchecker's picture

It doesn't say in the link,

It doesn't say in the link, but they may have also been the ones to set up shop somewhere around the Oliver Springs/Harriman area at 4th of July and New Years. Because we'd buy our fireworks there and us kids thought that spot (wherever it was) was Dixie Lee Junction, until adults convinced us when we became teenagers where the real DLJ is.

Tess, can you relate to this?

Tess's picture

I am sticking to my Dixie

I am sticking to my Dixie Lee Crosby story. And, FC, I don't really remember about the fireworks, cause I don't like them too much!

Factchecker's picture

Dixie Lee Ray

She was the Dr. Pete Stevens, or maybe John Stossel, of her day. I remember her bloviating in an article on a bunch of environmental issues. Something like radon gas or asbestos was mentioned and she suggested people just "open their windows." About sheep going blind due to excess UV from lack of ozone protection, she just scoffed something about them suffering from pink eye.

What a nut-job.

Rachel's picture

Dixy Lee (I think she

Dixy Lee (I think she spelled it with a "y") was indeed a nut job. A smart woman, but a huge reactionary. I never understood how she got elected governor of a moderate state like Washington.

redmondkr's picture

I remember going to an old

I remember going to an old drive-in movie at Dixie Lee Junction when I was in high school. They showed what was considered pretty raunchy movies back in the early sixties.

There was one called "Not Tonight Henry".

Now, why can I remember a ridiculous movie title like that from forty-five years ago but can't find where I left my checkbook yesterday?

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R. Neal's picture

Yes, it seems that Dixie Lee

Yes, it seems that Dixie Lee Junction is a regular den of iniquity, owing partly to it's proximity to the Knox/Loudon county line. Folks from Knox go across the border to get fireworks, folks from Loudon cross over to get liquor.

And the Dixie Lee Drive-in was a notorious XXX rated movie venue, which later moved its operations over to South Knox at the Chapman Highway Drive-in. It's amazing to think that this stuff showed on a huge outdoor movie screen that folks living in nearby neighborhoods could see out their window. But I guess the VHS video (and maybe local ordinances?) pretty much torpedoed their business model.

lovable liberal's picture

Use for remembered junk

Now, why can I remember a ridiculous movie title like that from forty-five years ago but can't find where I left my checkbook yesterday?

This sort of memory is computer-age gold. Need a secure password? There you go. (Oh, sure, you might want to decorate it with some non-alphabetic characters.)

Liberty and justice for all.

redmondkr's picture

You know, now that I think

You know, now that I think about it, Not Tonight Henry was nowhere near as salacious as the stuff you can see on broadcast television now any night of the week.

Have you seen the latest Hardies ad?

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