SmithDRay Blog
Thursday, 11 June 2009
Books now available on








I am proud to announce that my Historically Speaking and Delina history books are now available on 

Just search on "Historically Speaking," "Delina," "1944 Troop Train Wreck," or "Historical Sketches of Oak Ridge Schools."

Here is the link to Delina on

Here is the link to 2006 Historically Speaking on 

Here is the link to 2007 Historically Speaking on

Here is the link to 1944 Troop Train Wreck on 


Here is the link to Historical Sketches of Oak Ridge Schools on


Posted by smithdray at 10:54 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 21 August 2009 12:38 PM EDT
Zane's 100 mile ultramarathon - Massenutten 100
Mood:  a-ok

Zane Smith runs his third 100 mile ultramarathon


On Saturday, May 16, 2009, at 5:00 AM, Zane Smith, Farm Bureau Insurance Agent of Spring Hill, dressed for a bit of running, began a 100-mile ultramarathon.  He was in Virginia within the George Washington National Forest’s Massanutten Mountains. 


The evening before he and his wife, Laura, had carefully placed “drop bags” in designated containers and had made sure much of what he would need for the next two days of running was included. Zane was taking the last minute precautions of being sure key support items would be available to him during the upcoming run through the day and night and much of the next day. 


This run was to be different than the two others he had completed.  The weather was hotter, storms were predicted and he planned to run this race alone, with no pacer and no companions.  He would rely on his support team and his growing experience in running 100 mile ultramarathons.


In his second 100 mile ultramarathon, the Pinhoti 100 in the Talladega National Forest in Alabama, Zane had done well by setting a faster pace and had finished in much better physical and mental shape than his first experience on the Massanutten Mountain 100 run last year.  Finishing at or below last year’s time was his goal.  


Zane finished the 100-mile run in 32 hours and 22 minutes. He was the sixty first runner to finish.  173 people started the run and only 101 finished. There were 19,000 feet of elevation climbed during the run…you read correctly.  That is like climbing one of the highest peaks in the world. Of course the air does not get as thin, but other environmental factors sure do make an impact.


In this run, Zane faced searing heat on Saturday throughout the day.  Late in the afternoon a thunderstorm caught him on Byrd Knob, among the highest peaks in the run.  He was out in the open. Runners reported hailstones and one runner reported seeing lightening strike a tree. Needless to say Zane did make a quick descent from the peak!


Zane packed a rain jacket in one “drop bag” and got it just before the storm caught him. When the rain hit, even with a rain jacket, there was no way to prevent his feet from getting wet.  Now, he was running wet with his shoes and socks soaked by the rain flowing in the trail. 


His best hope to avoid hyperthermia was to keep moving…fast. Rain gear helps, but when rain storms hit runners who are heated and dressed in running clothes, hyperthermia can be a real problem.  This may have worked to his advantage, as he ultimately was able to finish at his goal time.

The rain kept falling through the night and Zane kept a fast pace.  Being prepared for the many extreme and varied conditions that each run presents is but one of the many things he must think of and plan to face.  Without his knowledge and determination he might well have fallen victim to the elements as did some 70 others that day, during the night, and the next day.


But, being ready for the situation, he forged on through the night and early morning to the finish of this run. Of the ultramarathons Zane has completed over the past few years, three of them have been 100 mile runs.  He has been running ultramarathons since 2005.


Zane tells of a special moment in the run when he paused at Shawl Gap, the last high point of the course, and for a few short minutes let the effect of the beautiful surroundings and the personal reward of the run just about completed flood his senses.  He finds this ritual to be the most meaningful few minutes of the run.


This pause before the end of a run has become a tradition that began last year when he ran his first 100-mile run with a friend, Susan Donnelly’s help.  He paused at Shawl Gap and asked her and two other running companions to stop for a moment. 


It was a special time for them all. It was Zane’s first finish and they had helped him struggle through the night.  A special bond was formed in that run.


Zane enjoys running and can be seen at various locations around Maury County as he often runs along the roads.  He also travels to Frozen Head State Park in East Tennessee to get practice on the types of elevation changes he is likely to encounter in these grueling runs.  


While many of us may never experience the euphoria of that special quiet moment of achievement that comes after running through the night for 100 grueling miles, we can admire Zane’s dedication and learn from his application of ultrarunning skills to everyday life.  


Zane is a dedicated runner, but he is also my son, a loving husband and doting father, a member of Maury County Rotary Club and a local Farm Bureau insurance agent. Needless to say, I am proud of his accomplishments.


Ray Smith, (half of my son’s ultramarathon support crew)


Link to photos:

Posted by smithdray at 10:09 PM EDT
Saturday, 25 April 2009
Dandy, the mustached horse

Recently, I photographed a Missouri Foxtrotter horse with a beautiful mustache.  His name is Dandy and he is owned by Paula Walden who keeps him at the East Tennessee Riding Club stables in Oak Ridge.

Here is the link to my Skydrive where you can download individual images:

Here is the link to the story published in The Oak Ridger:

Here is an embedded slideshow using Smilebox:


Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Dandy - Mustached Horse
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Posted by smithdray at 11:51 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 21 August 2009 11:48 AM EDT
Monday, 20 April 2009
Aerial photos

On Thursday, 4/17/09, I took several aerial photos of the Oak Ridge area.  Great day!  We started at 6:30 AM with breakfast at Waffle House and then to the the Oliver Springs airport by 7:30 AM for an early start.  The sun is just rising and the lighting is absolutely fantastic.  Not a cloud in the sky and the air is crystal clear.

Aerials can be seen at:


Posted by smithdray at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 11 June 2009 10:33 PM EDT
Thursday, 2 April 2009

Last night we attended the play Copenhagen at the University of Tennessee's Clarence Brown Theatre.  I was ready to be impressed and had read the book, so I thought I knew what to expect.

Yet, I was not ready for the quality and intensity of the presentation of Linda Stephens (Margrethe Bhor), the character who keeps your focus on target,  david Brian Alley (Werner Heisenberg) and Dan Dremer (Neils Bohr.) 

Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, friends and two of the world's greatest physicists, met on an evening in September 1941 in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Two men who may well have held the fate of the world in their hands walked and talked outside Bohr's home for only 10 minutes.  What was said? What was intended?  World War II may well have turned on that meeting.   

The University of Tennessee's Clarence Brown Theatre is running the play in conjunction with the "Quark Matter 2009" international physics conference in Knoxville.  The three person, two act drama looks at the most unusual meeting between two friends who were designated enemies because Germany had overrun Denmark. 


Yet, Hitler's man running the uranium program made a personal call on an old friend and mentor, why?.  Between the two of them and Bohr's wife, their spirits return to take a look a that pivotal meeting from several perspectives.  Why was it held?  What was the outcome? 

Even the spirits have trouble with all the ramifications of this historical yet clouded meeting.   You will hang on every word. 

I attended last night and highly recommend it for those interested in Manhattan Project history.


Here is the link to information about the play, Copenhagen:


Here is the link to the theatre:


Here is the link to the story published in The Oak Ridger's Historically Speaking column:



Posted by smithdray at 9:16 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 11 June 2009 10:07 PM EDT
Sunday, 29 March 2009
Oak Ridge Opening Gates Celebration 60th Anniversary

On March 21, 2009, Oak Ridge celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Opening of the Gates on March 19, 1949.  The events planned jointely by the Oak Ridge Heritage & Preservation Association and the American Museum of Science and Energy were excellent events to commemorate the historic event.

See photos at:


Posted by smithdray at 12:51 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 11 June 2009 10:37 PM EDT
Robert Hicks and Widow of the South - Literacy Luncheon

Widow of the South is a great book by Robert Hicks

Robert was the speaker at the Altrusa International and Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club's Literacy Luncheon of 400 plus held on March 19, 2009, at the Oak Ridge High School cafeteria lobby. I was honored to introduce him at the luncheon. 

He also was the feature at the One City One Book event on March 18, 2009, at the Oak Ridge Public Library, also a huge hit.

Robert held the audiences in both events spellbound for the entire length of his talks.  His story of how his family ate his uncle for dinner serves to capture the audience as they don't really know what to make of the frank and open way Robert tells how this story has affected others who have been told it before the audience he is currently addressing. He then goes into the passionate story of his love for the life of Carrie McGavock, the real widow of the South who dug up and reburied nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers killed on or near her homeplace of Carnton Plantation in Franklin, TN, creating one of the largest private military cemeteries in existence.

The story of Robert's visit to Oak Ridge is covered in my Historically Speaking article of Tuesday, March 31, 2009.



Posted by smithdray at 12:41 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 31 March 2009 9:54 PM EDT
Sunday, 8 February 2009
Cherokee Caverns
Mood:  special

This past Saturday, I visited Cherokee Caverns.  Here are some photos:


Click to play Cherokee Caverns - 2-7-0
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Posted by smithdray at 11:16 PM EST
Monday, 24 November 2008
Cover photo for Bones of Betrayal
Mood:  happy

I took Dr. William Bass, Jon Jefferson and photographer Rebecca Leigh to four locations to shoot photographs for the cover of the upcoming book, Bones of Betrayal.  The book is set in Oak Ridge.  The cover photo was selected and can be seen at:

Some photos I took at the shoot can be seen at:

Posted by smithdray at 9:00 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 24 November 2008 9:05 PM EST
Historically Speaking books - available in hardback
Mood:  happy
Topic: books

The following books have been published IN HARDBACK online and are available at  and at

2006 Historically Speaking - articles published in The Oak Ridger during 2006

2007 Historically Speaking 1944 Troop Train Wreck - articles publishe in The Oak Ridger telling the story of the 1944 troop train wreck in Jellico, Tennessee

Historical Sketches of Oak Ridge Schools - articles about the history of the Oak Ridge Schools (this book is published in FULL COLOR)

2007 Historically Speaking - articles published in The Oak Ridger during 2007

Delina - the history of a small crossroads community in Middle Tennessee written by Haskell Roden and edited by me

2008 Historically Speaking - COMING January, 2009


Posted by smithdray at 8:51 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 11 June 2009 11:14 PM EDT

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