History & Museums

Our part of Appalachia features a deep and culturally-rich history — from the German and Swiss immigrants who settled Wartburg to the English immigrants who settled Rugby to what is perhaps the most infamous prison in Tennessee’s history. 

Historic Rugby
If you enjoy a laid-back, relaxing, quiet trip, you’ll love Historic Rugby. Founded in the 1880s by English reformer Thomas Hughes as a utopian colony for the younger sons of English gentry, Rugby is a painstakingly preserved Victorian-era village on the edge of the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area. It appears today much as it would have more than 100 years ago, when Hughes’ dream of a better life for his countrymen was still alive and well.

Historic Brushy Mountain
With a history as deep and fascinating as Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary’s, who wouldn’t want to tour this old prison? Originally built in the late 1800s, Brushy Mountain housed some of the worst of the worst of Tennessee’s convicts over the years — including James Earl Ray, the man who assassinated Martin Luther King Jr. Today, you can tour the prison, catch a concert, camp on the grounds, and enjoy a great meal … and more!

Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary (Photo: Sumer Newport).