Because others saw the same potential, the neighborhood grew to more than 25 homes. No one seemed to mind the Tennessee Valley Authority power plant looming just a short distance away.
That was how things were, at least, before the early morning hours of Dec. 22, 2008. When a dike failed at TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant, 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash cascaded into the Emory and Clinch rivers and smothered about 300 acres of land.
The breach released a slow-moving wave of toxic sludge and polluted water into the river in what remains the nation's largest coal-ash spill in history. It snapped trees as if they were twigs and knocked homes off their foundations. It destroyed three houses and damaged dozens of others. There were no injuries.
More coal ash spilled at Kingston than oil from the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico two years later. Enough muck spewed forth to fill a football field more than 2,500 feet into the air.