Back To Brushy Mountain

The drive up to Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary finds you wondering if the anxious feeling in your tummy is equal with how the hardened criminals felt as they arrived to serve time. Originally built of wood in 1896 and arranged in the shape of a cross, the prison was completely rebuilt using sandstone that was mined, hand chiseled and laid by prisoners in the 1930s. However, what you see is a stone, castle like fortress seemingly carved out of the mountain. While the buildings remained in the shape of the cross, an intentional nod to faith based rehabilitation, Brushy Mountain is an intimidating structure begetting anxious feelings.

The state first operated the prison on a convict-lease program, renting out convicts to private coal mining operations in Morgan and Anderson counties. That didn’t last long as the citizen coal miners revolted against the program and the state of Tennessee decided to use the inmates to operate mines located on state property surrounding the prison. Each prison cell of two beds and one toilet housed four inmates on a 12 hour rotation, two inmates worked the mines for 12 hours while the other two inmates utilized the cell. Inmates had daily quotas of coal to meet, with failure resulting in harsh punishments. After 70 years of operation and following the 1967 mining deaths of two inmates, the mines were closed.

Brushy Mountain was the only industry in Morgan County for a long, long time. The county relied on the prison for much more than just employment. The prison doctors and nurses were the only medical staff in the area and delivered many babies for local residents. The local residents also received dental care, hair cuts and other services within the prison walls. With most of the local residents working at Brushy Mountain, the Sunday “dinner on the grounds” included the families of prisoners and workers alike. The prison was a town within a town.

In 2009, Brushy Mountain Prison officials began quietly moving the 545 inmates to the Morgan County Correctional Complex, a maximum security facility about 10 miles away. Moving the general prisoners on a bus and maximum security prisoners in groups of eight. The final group of inmates left on June 4, 2009. It was raining that day as several hundred attended the closing ceremony for former and current prison workers. The prison whistle blew for the final time after 113 years of operation, Brushy Mountain closed.

Often referred to as Tennessee’s own version of Alcatraz, Brushy Mountain is surrounded by the impassable terrain of the Walden Ridge Mountains and today offers a glimpse of a time passed. An historical relic that once housed the infamous James Earl Ray, convicted of killing Martin Luther King, Jr., it is also mentioned in movie, The Silence of the Lambs and written on the pages of the novel, The Firm. Brushy Mountain was known as the “End of the Line,” housing evil men who committed heartless crimes with little remorse. Once an inmate arrived, there was little chance they’d leave. Throughout the 113 storied years of operation and beyond, Brushy Mountain Prison has become its own character, having a story beyond the inmates.

Today, after nearly ten years as just the historical relic carved out of the mountain, Brushy Mountain is back to life. The legendary facility no longer houses the hard-timers but welcomes you to tour the prison, listen to the stories, enjoy great food and taste some moonshine. The prison tour is self-guided with former prison guards around to answer questions. You will see all significant components of the prison from the cell block to the cafeteria and other buildings like the laundry room, gymnasium, museum, movie theatre, exercise yard, and the all-important “HOLE.” There are markers throughout the tour showcasing the story of what happened in that particular spot. It’s a glimpse inside the troubled minds of the hardened criminals that served time, the workers tasked with maintaining the safety and the families of both who lives revolved around the prison. The movie theater plays a 18 minute documentary every half hour that shares the stories of Brushy Mountain life.

The stories live on at Brushy Mountain, the voices echo down “3 Walk” and they are yours to experience. As you depart, the anxious feeling in your tummy no longer includes wondering what it felt like to arrive, but what it would have been like to be locked up for life at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary.

Before or after touring the prison, the new Brushy Mountain experience offers southern cooking with a twist at The Warden’s Table restaurant. Serving everything from classic BBQ plates to cheeseburgers to nachos. There is plenty of food selections and room for families or large groups. With your tummy full from the cafeteria style dining at The Warden’s Table, it is the End of Line that you will find downright enjoyable. The End of the Line moonshine is distilled and bottled on the grounds of the former maximum-security prison. From farm to still, they use local grains and water from the mountains’ natural springs. This is true Tennessee Moonshine.

Best of all is the ability to take a piece of this historical relic home, the gift shop has a variety of items from t-shirts to mugs to key rings and much more. There is a souvenir or gift for any age and the gift shop is also the place to pick up a bottle of End of the Line moonshine. In addition, Brushy Mountain is an unforgettable place to hold an event or party. They are hosting concerts, festivals and even weddings in and on the grounds of the infamous prison.

This unforgettable, infamous prison of history is now a place to make new memories. Those new memories can include a very personal experience at Brushy Mountain. The prison is considered an extremely haunted location by paranormal investigators. Phantom footsteps, apparitions, disembodied voices have been reported and tours are now available for anyone daring to encounter Brushy Mountain after dark.

Developed by The Brushy Mountain Group, the historical relic is re-establishing the economic security lost in 2009 when the prison closed. The thirst for the history of hard time and lure of hard liquor has changed the maximum-security prison to a tourist attraction. The site is currently home to a moonshine distillery, concert venue, restaurant, gift shop and prison tours, but much more is yet to come which includes a campground.

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2019 Summer Festivals

Music City Hot Chicken Festival
July 4
700 Woodland Street, Nashville, TN
Created in 2007, the annual Music City Hot Chicken Festival brings together the local community and visitors to celebrate the uniquely-Nashville dish, Hot Chicken.
As recently featured by the famous food chain, Kentucky Fried Chicken… Hot Chicken is an infamous Nashville, Tennessee, food. So what is this Hot Chicken?
It turn out there is quite a story behind this famous chicken recipe. Back in the 1930s, there was a man named Thornton Prince, a handsome, tall and good-looking man known for being somewhat of a womanizer. One of Thornton’s women got fed up and wanted revenge. So she made him his favorite fried chicken. But this time she added the hottest spices in her kitchen with the hopes of making it beyond ability to digest. But her plan backfired. He loved it.
In 1945, Prince Thornton, along with his brothers, created their own Hot Chicken recipe and opened Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville. This family legacy has been transformed into a Nashville icon and has everyone’s mouth watering for a taste. Not too far from the original location of Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, the inaugural Hot Chicken Festival took place. It has grown to be one of Nashville’s largest festivals.
This FREE event starts off with the Fire Truck Parade at 10:30am followed by free Hot Chicken samples to the first 500 people in line. Festival gates open at 11:00am. Visitors can enjoy Hot Chicken from Nashville’s best Hot Chicken establishments and other delicious edibles from local vendors.
Live music from local bands keeps the “Nashville” vibe going all day long, and visitors can look on while five teams try their hand at cooking up their version of Hot Chicken in the Amateur Cooking Competition.
The event ends at 3pm, when visitors can make their way downtown for the annual fireworks display.
www.hot-chicken.com

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair
July 12-21
Gatlinburg Convention Center
Gatlinburg, TN
Daily 10am-6pm
Sundays 10am-5pm
Filling the 150,000 square feet of downtown’s Gatlinburg Convention Center, the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair hosts Artisans and Craftsmen from all over the nation. Two hundred booths with unique and one-of-a-kind handmade products are beautifully displayed as these skilled craftspeople demonstrate their talents. All items represented are handmade, and of utmost quality and without duplication. Look for exceptional pottery pieces, molded leather, copper art, local candy makers and many more unique items.
There is something for everyone at the Fair. The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair and Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries provide a free Kid’s Corner during the July fair, with a selection of D.I.Y. crafts for our youngest visitors to take home with them. Enjoy contemporary country, bluegrass and your favorite gospel tunes at 12 and 3 daily. Concessions are available for sale through the Gatlinburg Convention Center.
The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair usually takes most of the day to see. If you didn’t quite get through it all, multi-day passes are available. Come off the street and beat the July heat to celebrate the 44th Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair.

Grainger County Tomato Festival
July 26, 27, & 28
7480 Rutledge Pike
Rutledge, TN
Friday. Noon-8pm
Saturday. 9am-6pm
Sunday. Noon-5pm
The Grainger County Tomato Festival was organized in 1992 to promote the world famous Grainger County Tomatoes. Over the years, a number of special events have been added, making the festival one of the largest free festivals in East Tennessee. The Grainger County Tomato Festival has been named by Parade magazine as one of the top ten festivals in the USA.
It’s a weekend of Grainger County Tomatoes, Live Music, the infamous Tomato Wars, Arts & Crafts, great food and so much more. Pets are welcome and are accommodated by several water stations on the festival grounds. Mark your calendars to spend the last full weekend of July in Rutledge, Tennessee. You don’t want to miss it.
Pets are welcome, and we have several water stations on the festival grounds. We also have misting tents for cooling off that the critters and their people love.

Butterfly Dash & Burger Bash
August 10th
World’s Fair Park
Enjoy gourmet burgers, live music and a family-friendly atmosphere for a great cause when Burger Bash returns to World’s Fair Park on Saturday, August 10. The event is a fundraiser for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
Gather at World’s Fair Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. as teams of chefs and grill masters compete to present the best slider. There is something for everyone to enjoy including kids activities and live music all day by The Coveralls and Soul Finger.
Admission to Burger Bash is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 4-12, and free for ages 3 and under. Admission price includes tickets for adults to sample three sliders (kids to sample two sliders). Additional burger tickets are available for purchase.
The day’s activities will kick off with Butterfly Dash, a 10K race. There is also a 5K and family fun walk. Butterfly Dash and Burger Bash tickets sold separately. Proceeds from race entry fees and sales of food and drink tickets will benefit the Pain and Palliative Care program at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Tickets available online now at www.etch.com/dashandbash. For more information, call Children’s Hospital Development office at (865) 541-8668

Virginia Highlands Festivals
July 26 – August 4
Robert Porterfield, founder of both the Virginia Highlands Festival and the famed Barter Theatre, held
the first Festival in
1949 at the Martha Washington Inn. His purpose was to preserve and celebrate the cultural heritage of this area. The Festival, over the past seven decades, has grown in scope to represent all of Southwest Virginia. Now it not only preserves the arts, crafts and skills that developed in this region, but it also imports talented artists and performers from around the world for creative exchange and the enjoyment of area residents and visitors.
More than 100 volunteers work year-round planning events, tours, performances and exhibitions for the annual Festival. They staff information booths, take up tickets, shuttle out-of-town performers to their programs and represent the Festival to local media. Chartered in 1778, Abingdon is a Virginia Historic Landmark. Visitors enjoy amenities usually reserved for much larger communities. You can stroll shaded, brick sidewalks and savor the ambiance of the oldest town west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, or explore a 20-block Historic District filled with outstanding examples of Federal and
Victorian architecture.
Antiques Market
Washington County Fairgrounds
Last year the Antiques Market moved to a better, indoor location that is more convenient for everyone: the Washington County Fairgrounds, 17046 Fairground Drive in Abingdon!
Covering about 45,000 square feet and sporting a concrete floor, restrooms and a catering kitchen, this venue offers many upgrades including safety and security for venders, cooler temperatures and protection from the elements.
The show is open rain or shine under tents.
The “Best in Virginia” Juried Arts and Crafts show will once again set up on the beautiful Barter Square at Barter Stage II.

Dog Daze
August 16, 17, & 18
Village Green
The festivities will start on Friday evening with a local dog “Pooch Plunge!” Local dog owners will have the opportunity to have their ‘puppy’ try a Dock-Dive! K9 Pet Services of East Tennessee has underwritten The Plunge activity, which will allow non-competitors to try the DockDog experience free of charge. Between 4 and 7pm, members of the Smoky Mountain DockDogs Club will assist area pet lovers with their introduction to the sport. If anyone is interested in entering their dog in the actual competition, (all breeds accepted), they can email dd_admin@dockdogs.com, call the office at 330-241-4975 https://dockdogs.com/eventscal/dog-daze-at-village-green/#

Smokey Mountain Dock Dogs
Event Schedule:

Fri Aug 16
Onsite Registration/ Practice
3:00 pm

Try DockDogs
THE POOCH PLUNGE!
4:00-7:00 pm

Sat Aug 17
Onsite Registration/ Practice
10:00 am

Big Air WAVE # 1
11:00 am
Big Air WAVE # 2
12:30 pm
Big Air WAVE # 3
2:00 pm
Big Air WAVE # 4
3:30 pm
Extreme Vertical (All in one)
5:00 pm

Sun Aug 18, 2019 Onsite Registration/ Practice
10:00 am

Big Air WAVE # 5
11:00 am
Big Air WAVE # 6
12:30 pm
Speed Retrieve (All in one Finals)
2:00 pm
Big Air Finals start at
3:30 pm
(Pro, Semi-Pro, Contender & Amateur Finals)

Event Format: Outdoor Big Air®, Extreme Vertical®, Speed RetrieveTM , and Iron Dog Rankings

The final rounds of competition
and award presentations will take place Sunday afternoon.

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