KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — For years, the historic Eastport Cemetery in East Knoxville has been obscured by woods. But that is all changing.
“This has been a fantastic morning. Actually, I didn't know if it would ever come before I left this earth because it was such a daunting task,” said George Kemp.
Eastport Cemetery has been hidden from visitors. It's been mostly abandoned and overgrown for years after Mother Nature took over. However, Earthadelics Landscaping and Citizens Cemetery Group are doing work to make it accessible once again.
Even though they’ve only been at it a few hours -- they have covered a lot of territory. They got to work early Friday morning, cutting down trees and getting rid of plants that don't belong.
“Most of this stuff that you see behind us is not native; it’s invasive,” said Josh Formont, who is the marketing manager at Earthadelics. “So we want to cut it down, pull it out to the street, and the city has graciously agreed to come to pick up all of the scraps.”
Earthadelics is excited the work has begun.
“Man, it feels great. It's so exciting to see so much progress in such a little time,” said Formont.
For years, it was nearly impossible to walk through to see the headstones of those buried underneath.
The cemetery dates all the way to back to the 1840s before the Civil War.
According to Kemp, who has family buried in the cemetery, some of Knoxville’s most influential African Americans are in these burial grounds.
“There’s a lot of historical, early African Americans is in this cemetery,” said Kemp.
This is an area that proves now that a bit of love and care can go a long way.
“You were having to duck down, move trees out of your way, slither in between, and now we're standing on a trail that is so well defined and well-cut,” said Formont.
A project of this nature is predicted to take a long time, but Earthadelics will work until it is complete.