July 27, 2012
Area woman gives West Knoxville walking tours
It doesn't take long to see how rich West Knoxville's history is -- parking spaces and automobiles and strip malls exist on every street corner.
But not everyone knows the stories that lurk here. Maylee Buckner wants to change that.
"I don't think people realize what a substantial history West Knoxville has," the 44-year-old Bluegrass woman said. "There are traffic jams and drive-through windows and 20 percent off sales at chain stores and cheeseburgers packed in cardboard boxes. It really just shakes me to my core."
Last month Buckner formed West Knoxville History Tours, based on the research of several East Tennessee historians. Her walking tours explore the treasure trove of story that exists in West Knoxville.
"People are naturally drawn to story," said Buckner. "West Knoxville has so many of them. Right over there was a big box store. It closed down and moved a mile down the road. Now it's a empty, concrete desert. You just can't get that kind of passionate human drama anywhere except the suburbs."
A published novelist and journalist, Buckner said she also wants to ambassador for Knoxville's more homogeneous areas.
"Over here is where my friend Dave had to sit through a stop light three times because of how congested the intersection is and how heavy traffic is at rush hour," Buckner said. "It's all there: the rising action, the conflict, the climax, the falling action, the resolution. You don't get that kind of engaging storytelling in the city center. You get it right here next to the mall. These are the stories that speak deeply to us as people."
Buckner currently offers three walking tours, including:
"Fast Food," which she says captures the spirit of overpriced, undercooked substances pretending to have nutritional value.
"Strip Mall" tells the epic tale of Knoxville's chain stores.
"Motorcar" visits the scenes that inspired Knoxvilians to spend 10-20 hours a week sitting in gasoline-powered apartments on wheels.
Buckner said other tours are in the works. The cost of each excursion is $15 for adults; $10 for children 6 to 12.
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