Hidden History from the Secret City Revealed

Mr. Keith McDaniel, author, teacher, documentary filmmaker, owner of Secret City Films, and Knoxville Film Festival Executive Director and Mr. Ray Smith, City of Oak, Tennessee Historian, have much in common and have worked together on several projects over the years combining their many shared skills and unique talents to bring history to light and alive. 

I was honored (and yes, of course terrified) when they recently hosted me as a guest on their program Hidden History: Stories from the Secret City and invited me to share a bit of the story and progress on my journey to write a book on the integration of Oak Ridge, TN. (Video below.)

My in-laws Rev. Roy D. and Jean Colby and best friends Dr. James E. Spicer and his wife Shirley, were a part of this process when they co-ministered at Chapel on the Hill in Oak Ridge, TN the 60s. I’m thrilled to share that my quest to show a fuller picture of this time has stretched to include many others with powerful and fascinating stories from both the White and Black citizens from Oak Ridge and Scarboro (the section of the city designated for the Black community when Oak Ridge was established.)

I forgot to mention in the interview when asked about my father-in-law’s time in Oak Ridge, that he also served as Chairman of the Fair Housing Council, Vice President of Operations of the Ministerial Association, and as an Oak Ridge City Charter Commission member. Partial blame for my distracted state goes to Chewy my Yorkshire Terrier who (just out of the camera’s view) spent the entire interview trying to hurl himself unto my lap. Perhaps I should surrender and make him part of my brand.


I asked Mr. Smith to explain what the inspiration, mission, and vision of their program, Hidden History: Secrets from the Secret City was. His response follows along with some amazing stories in the resources (many the creations of his and Mr. Keith McDaniel’s) mentioned and linked to in this post.

Hidden History History

MR. RAY SMITH: In March 2020, Keith McDaniel and I started this video cast to replace a podcast idea that was foiled by the pandemic, as we could no longer meet to do the recording. Zoom gave us a video alternative! The video cast features interviews with people who bring insight into unknown or little known history of the Secret City of Oak Ridge, TN. 

Guests have included Clifton Truman Daniel, President Truman’s grandson, Richard Rhodes, author of “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” Robert Stan Norris, author of “Racing for the Bomb,” and many others with unique stories about the Secret City! Our vision was and continues to be that we bring hidden stories to light and have fun doing it!

Topic: Life as the Grandson of US President Harry S. Truman’s Grandson with special guest Clifton Truman Daniel

Topic: The Role of Oak Ridge in the Manhattan Project with special guest Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb 

Topic: General Leslie R. Groves and the Manhattan Project with special guest Robert Stan Norris, author of Racing for the Bomb

MR. RAY SMITH: After over two years of programs every other Saturday, we continue to have guests scheduled and an ongoing list of potential guests. Each program is posted here on: FACEBOOK and on TWITTER and in an archive on YouTube at:

Hidden History: Stories from the Secret City with Keith MacDaniel & Ray Smith

RACHAEL: Tell me Mr. Smith, why is this important to you, to Mr. McDaniel, to bring the hidden stories of Oak Ridge, Tennessee to light?

Why do you want people to know these stories? Is it, and if so, why is it important for people to learn of Oak Ridge’s history? I mean, you’re talking about the past. What bearing does it have on our present?

MR. RAY SMITH: Oak Ridge has many untold stories. The history of the Secret City is important to understand and these stories help give a fuller meaning to our history than merely referring to the place where uranium was separated for the Little Boy! [The bomb that helped end WWII] 

It is important for the next generation to appreciate that history and take pride in the many world-impacting scientific discoveries that come from Oak Ridge. Stories help do that most effectively.

And the manner in which we are doing this program is fun for us and I think by the interest being shown in it, the same type of fun is experienced by those who watch.

Oak ridge has and continues to play a vital role in inventions, research, and discoveries in the areas of:

  • Nuclear medicine
  • Nuclear power
  • Nuclear weapons: Contributing to the United States of America’s national security by equipping our military with nuclear weaponry, including our U.S. Navy’s nuclear ships.
Hidden History: Stories from the Secret City on YouTube

Topic: History of Nuclear Weapons and the Clarksville Depot with special guest Alex Gabbard

Documentary Movies on The Secret City

Documentary Movie: Secret City War Years | Keith MacDaniel with Ray Smith

Documentary Movie: Secret City, 1945 - 2006 |Keith MacDaniel with Ray Smith

A Favorite of Mr Smith’s: Ed Westcott – Photographer: A documentary film about the life of the Manhattan Project photographer at Oak Ridge, TN.

In case you missed it, Mr. Ray Smith is a humble hero, a man of many hats, who I was honored to host as my guest interviewee in 2021 HERE: Ray Smith: Secret City Historian, Vietnam Veteran, Police Chaplain Emeritus. (And there’s more.)

Who is Keith McDaniel?

Keith McDaniel:

Filmaker and Executive Director of the Knoxville Film Festival, audio-visual Production Teacher at Roan County Schools, Owner/ Filmaker at Secret City Films and also known as Low Carb Keith.

Mr. Keith McDaniel also has a YouTube channel where he shares his story of losing 130 pounds and keeping it off, and demonstrates his cooking skills with his low carb recipes and about his book My Low Carb Life.  

You may watch Low Carb Keith's  YouTube Channel by Keith McDaniel HERE

Low Carb Keith on Twitter 
Thank you, Mr. McDaniel and Mr. Smith for having me as your guest on Hidden History: Secrets of the Secret City. And Thank you Mr. Smith sharing your wealth of knowledge and connections, and for the honor of continuing to contribute articles to your Historically Speaking column in the Oak Ridger newspaper. I look forward to seeing you and other Oak Ridge and Scarboro contacts in June at the Flatwater Tales storytelling event in Oak Ridge in June
Links to my series of articles to date in Mr. Ray Smith's Historically Speaking column in the Oak Ridger newspaper: 

Part 1: The Integration of Oak Ridge: A unique perspective

Dr. Spicer’s commentary

Part 2: The Integration of Oak Ridge: A unique perspective

Part 3: The Integration of Oak Ridge: A unique perspective


From Oak Ridge to the Moon video by Secret City Historian Ray Smith: Y-12’s role in man’s first landing on the moon.

Historically Speaking Series of Books by Oak Ridge Historian Ray Smith – Annual volumes of historical articles published in The Oak Ridger newspaper

Ray Smith’s wonderful resources are suitable for history and science lovers, educators, and those who love a good story.

Historically Speaking article in the Oak Ridger newspaper by Ray Smith listing: Oak Ridge history documentary films, videos

Ray Smith on YouTube: ORICL: Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning Video Classes, hosted by Ray Smith Oak Ridge City Historian and Tennessee Historical Commission Commisioner

Ray Smith’s Website from which you can access his many and varied amazing offerings.

Hidden History: Stories from the Secret City with Keith MacDaniel & Ray Smith

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© 2022 Rachael M Colby | Tattoo It On your Heart

Author: Rachael M. Colby

Born and raised in Jamaica, award-winning writer Rachael M. Colby resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Wife, mom, beach bum, artist, work in progress, avid Tweeter—#HealthyFaithChat leader, Rachael writes to glorify God, encourage believers, and reach the lost. She connects culture’s questions with Christianity’s answers, inspires faith, and motivates through articles, devotions, poetry, and interviews. She has a heart for racial reconciliation and to uplift those who serve in tough places. Her work has appeared on Southern Ohio Christian Voice, Inkspirations Online, the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Blog, in the compilation books Creative Writing Journal: Faith Inspired Writing Prompts & Hope-Filled Poetry, The Courage to Write: 62 devotions to Encourage your Writing Journey, and Defining Moments: Memorable and Inspiring Stories from Outstanding Leaders, and the Oak Ridger newspaper. She runs on copious amounts of coffee and chocolate and a whole lot of "Help me, Jesus." Her WIPS include a compilation of her family’s and others’ stories of their work as civil rights activists (adult and children’s books), and a devotional for writers. You can connect with Rachael on her website, TattooItOnYourHeart.com—a place for seekers, followers, and writers, and on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

2 thoughts on “Hidden History from the Secret City Revealed”

  1. It is always a blessing to see your heart revealed in your words, in all their different forms, young lady. Have enjoyed your lessons from the past and seeing how sorely many need to be applied to society today. God’s blessings.


    1. Oh, JD, that is my hope for these articles and book on the integration of Oak Ridge – for us to apply lessons learned from the past to today, to see bridges built, reconcilliation and healing, to foster productive conversation and understanding in our nation.

      Thank you for kind encouragement. God bless you and your words, JD.


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