Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary


‍The Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiery is a maximum security prison that was built in 1896. It was constructed with inmate labor and was replaced in the 1920s with a stone structure. The most notable resident of the prison was James Earl Ray, the assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ray escaped in 1977, but was captured eight and a half miles away. The prison's rugged terrain served its purpose in keeping James Earl Ray in prison. It is located at 9182 TN-116, Petros, TN 37845.


The prison was known as the "End of the Line" and housed many murderers, robbers, and rapists. Today, you can take a self-guided tour of the prison. Former prison guards will be available to answer your questions as you tour. The tour consists of more than 30 stations, each one displaying a story from the prison's past. Some of the stations tell the stories of convicts and their families. Others provide insight into the troubled minds of hardened criminals.

Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary opened in 1896 and was the first maximum security prison in Tennessee. The prison housed prisoners with all levels of convictions, from minor convictions to life in prison. It also housed a 96-bed maximum security annex. Today, the facility serves as a tourist attraction, hosting concerts and tours, and even features a distillery.

The prison was home to life-sentenced criminals and murderers, including the assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Byron "Low Tax" Looper, who murdered Tennessee senator Tommy Burks. These crimes were often committed inside the facility. The tour gives you a unique and intimate look into this maximum security facility. It begins with an 18-minute documentary screening in the former prison chapel. Former guards recount stories of the violence they witnessed during their time in the penitentiary.

Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiery is open seven days a week, from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Self-guided tours are available from April through November. Visitors can also participate in paranormal tours. The prison has a restaurant and function facilities.

The prison was designed by S.M. Patton and was constructed with volunteer labor. The prison's wood came from a nearby forest. It had five sleeping wards, each accommodating up to 120 inmates. Each ward featured a cannon stove and oil lamps, and the prison was also equipped with a hospital.

There is also a gift shop on site, with a variety of souvenirs available for purchase. Although the souvenirs are expensive, they are well made and make great gifts. Visitors should allow plenty of time to explore the prison. Signs throughout the grounds will point you in the right direction. read more

The site was slated to remain a prison, but the owners and developers are trying to turn it into a tourist destination. Several entrepreneurs have made the historic site an attraction. The Brushy Mountain Group, which consists of three successful entrepreneurs in Tennessee, proposed turning the prison into a multi-million dollar business. In addition to creating a museum and a distillery on site, the development would include a gift shop, restaurant, and RV park lodging. The developer would also produce bottled water. Next Article

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