Tennessee May 17, 2019
This Tour Of An Abandoned Tennessee Prison Is An Experience Unlike Any Other
Tennessee is rife with history, both beautiful and dark. It’s the kind of state that helps you learn to accept the good with the bad, recognize the necessity of studying what once was in order to keep it from happening again. Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary has a spotted past in Tennessee. It has a dark story that’s riddled with fascinating tales of escape and historical significance. Nowadays, you can visit and hear the stories from within the prison walls itself – without having to commit a crime, of course.
Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary opened in 1896, in the aftermath of the Coal Creek War. It operated until 2009, and operated for a majority of its tenure as a maximum security prison.
Located in Petros, Tennessee in the heart of some of the most rugged wilderness in the state, it's been known as one of the most secure prison sites in its geographical region.
Built by prisoners, the castle-like structure was crafted from the stone mined from its on-site quarry. Once the state's oldest operating prison, it's now been retired. It's best known for the escape attempt made by James Earl Ray in 1977, known for the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. He wasn't able to make it very far, a mere eight miles, before being caught.
There's now a small museum on the property where you can indulge in old photos, articles and record books. You'll find contraband articles, like tattoo guns and self-made weapons, and can even take tours through the old structure.
Make sure you check out the video that's shown in the museum before you embark on your tour. At only eighteen minutes long, it's a great way to bolster foundational knowledge of the prison before experiencing it for yourself.
Brushy is known for housing thousands of murderers and high-end criminals. If you take a guided tour, led by former guards and even former inmates, you'll get to experience the horror of the prison for yourself, including "The Hole." The solitary confinement cell is a terrifying look at what problematic inmates were subject to if they caused issues throughout the prison. Their punishment? Up to a month in complete darkness, alone.
The prison-now-tourist-attraction houses a gift shop, distillery, and restaurant as well as the prison's museum. It's a true experience, one that you can drink off at the distillery post-tour.
You can visit for yourself at $12 an adult for self-guided tours, from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., every day of the week from April through November. Address: 9182 TN-116, Petros, TN, 37845.
You can learn more about local tours and experiences by way of the
Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary official website and Facebook page.