US11E, known as the Andrew Johnson Highway in some parts for our 17th president, is another of Tennessee’s split highways, along with US25 E&W. US11W splits from its fellow 11 in Knoxville and runs on the other side of the valley in the shadow of the Clinch Mountains while 11E heads north in the land between the lakes Douglas and Cherokee, finally becoming whole again in the Virginia half of Bristol. US11’s Interstate counterpart in these parts is I-81, which is born whole from I-40 between Dandridge and White Pine. In Morristown, where 11E originally ran through the center of town on Main Street, it’s now moved south to Morris Boulevard from its second home on First North and the Andrew Johnson Highway. That’s about all Andrew Johnson is known for, other than being Abraham Lincoln’s vice president and pretty much fucking up Reconstruction.
Before Morris Boulevard or even First North, an aunt and uncle and a couple cousins lived in a small house there on 11E/Main Street just east of downtown on Thompson Creek. It was a favorite stop. I played many a game of baseball there on the oblong diamond the cousins and I created in the side yard, and it was always the stop on Christmas Eve.
The first hint of trouble came when the powers that be extended First North to the east, putting the AJ Highway right through their backyard. Then came the big plan to move US25E out of downtown. That new 4-lane highway went right over their property and they and several more family members who lived in the road’s direct line were forced to move. Off in the distance there, looking east, is the Davy Crocket Parkway/Appalachian Highway/Dixie Highway/US25E overpass. The old highway is mostly still there, even the old bridge over Thompson Creek.
Last time I came in from the other side — seen here in a Google Street View — there was a small camper on the site, someone living surreptitiously hidden by all the brush. I’ll check sooner or later to see if they’re still there.