The village, known to the residents as Caney Creek, was open from 1912 until 1943, and housed the workers of the powerhouse and their families.
Local amateur historian Debbie Moore first heard about Caney Creek from a fellow teacher in the Bradley County Schools system whose father, John “Doc” German, had grown up in the village.
She, her husband, Rick, and her son Will were soon collecting stories from other former residents of the village, mostly from people who had grown up as children there.
The family wanted to preserve the stories of the people they had met, so they put together a $2,000 documentary about the village and its residents, thanks in part to a grant from the Bradley County Genealogical Society and private funding.
Moore wrote and narrated the story, and Rick learned all of the software needed to edit the documentary. Will, a media technology student at Chattanooga State Community College, served as videographer and producer for the project.
Family friend and Cleveland native John Cook provided an original score for the documentary, as well.
The 47-minute documentary took about 18 months to complete and includes interviews from six former residents of Caney Creek, five of whom lived there as children and one who moved there as an adult.
Three of the people featured in the documentary, John “Doc” German, Marilyn Lowe Kirkland and Geraldine Lowe King, were in attendance at the premiere, along with family and friends.
Two other former residents of Caney Creek, Bernice Woody Pack and Kay Rymer Harper, were also there to watch the film.
The family of Margaret Poe Trotter, who passed away only 20 days after being interviewed for the documentary, was also at the showing.
After the film showing, audience members were able to ask questions and share their own stories connecting them to Caney Creek. Many audience members had relatives who had lived in the village and shared stories with them; others’ relatives delivered groceries or public services to the isolated community.
One audience member revealed he had discovered that his childhood home in Athens was one of the houses originally built for Caney Creek, and most likely belonged to one of the women interviewed for the documentary.
Moore described the premiere as “overwhelming.”
“We’ve always told people to record the stories of their grandparents,” Moore said to the audience before the premiere. “These aren’t our grandparents; they’re just good friends. But we thought it was time for someone to tell the story of Caney Creek.
The film was producer Will Moore’s first full-length documentary.
“It was wonderful,” Will said after the showing. “I can’t even form words, I’m so happy.”
The Moore family’s next project will be about the Cleveland Speedway. They hope to begin the project sometime in the next year. The family also hopes to screen “Going Home” in more public venues in the near future.
Anyone interested in purchasing a copy of the documentary and the accompanying book can visit the Old Town Cleveland website at www.oldtowncleveland.com.