Is Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary “evil,” per se? Maybe not. Does it have an absolutely terrifying history and is it rumored to be the home of ghostly ghouls? Yes. That part is very true. We’ve researched the history of the prison and given you a closer look at the eastern Tennessee legend – there are a few things you may not know.
Brushy Mountain Penitentiary is located near Petros, an eastern Tennessee town surrounded by rough forestry and stunning natural vistas. It operated from 1896 to 2009.
A sign to mark your entry, not to be of welcome. No one is welcome here anymore, actually. The place has been shut down for years, creating an eerie landscape to the beautiful Tennessee backdrop.
The darkness to this story began years and years ago - the prison was first built on the backs of incarcerated men. There were stories of their alleged abuse, building out the wooden structures over a series of years. It was in the 1920s that the prison was rebuilt, again by prisoners, utilizing the property quarry. Whatever dark stories of woe were once told have long been swept away.
The penitentiary is close to Frozen Head State Park, the location of the famed Barclay Marathon. The geographic location is known for it's difficult topography and the spot was chosen to make escape impossible. Hope was lost here, and that just may be the scariest thing of all.
Brushy is best known for the incarceration of James Earl Ray, the man who assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr. Here, he's known for the greatest escape. On June 10th, 1977, Ray attempted escape with six of his other inmates. He was captured less than 58 hours later - he had only made it eight and a half miles.
The rugged terrain had served its duty. Here there is no hope, and no escape.
Since its initial closure, the prison has become a destination for tourists and ghost hunters. It's been said you can hear the screams of the hopeless, the clanging against bars and railing for justice, over and over. It makes sense that a place filled with such heartache would carry a connection to the other world.
You can take a ghost tour of the prison and learn about the history of the place, while searching for the men who died behind its walls. Sounds like an uplifting weekend, hey? It'll set you back roughly $1500 for a group of 12, but the overnight tour may be something that makes you look at Brushy with a clearer eye.
Visit if you dare, folks. This place has a darkness to it and we wouldn't come close with a ten foot pole. We'd rather read about it...