Folks have been coming to Morgan County for rest and relaxation for nearly as long as this place has had a name.
It started when city officials in Cincinnati built a railroad from the Ohio River all the way to Chattanooga to link economic trade between the North and the South, and folks starting traveling by rail from as far away as Wisconsin and Louisiana to stay at their summer homes in Deer Lodge.
Not long after, the utopian English colony of Rugby was founded, bringing still more guests to Morgan County. Our guests have always been mesmerized by our area’s natural beauty.
In 1867, famed adventurer John Muir passed through Morgan County along his 1,000-mile walk to the Gulf of Mexico. Having grown up in the flatlands of the Midwest, the Cumberland Mountains were the first mountains Muir had ever encountered. When he reached the Emory River in Morgan County, he was most impressed. He wrote in his journal about the Emory River:
“There is nothing more eloquent in Nature than a mountain stream, and this is the first I ever saw. Its banks are luxuriantly peopled with rare and lovely flowers and overarching trees, making one of Nature’s coolest and most hospitable places. Every tree, every flower, every ripple and eddy of this lovely stream seemed solemnly to feel the presence of the great Creator. Lingered in this sanctuary a long time thanking the Lord with all my heart for his goodness in allowing me to enter and enjoy it.”
Today, Morgan County is home to two state parks (Frozen Head and Cumberland Trail), two national parks (Obed Wild & Scenic River and Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area), two wildlife management areas (Catoosa and North Cumberland) and a state forest (Lone Mountain). History buffs will love Historic Rugby and the Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary.
Most forms of adventure recreation are available in Morgan County. For hikers, we have both day hikes and multi-day backpacking hikes. For campers, we have both developed campgrounds and backcountry, primitive camping. For rock climbers, we have the Obed … enough said. For horseback riders, we have the Big South Fork … again, enough said. For paddlers, we have both, with whitewater rapids ranging from Class II to Class IV. Anglers can fish for smallmouth bass, catfish, rainbow trout and muskie. Hunters can hunt whitetail deer, wild turkey, black bear, wild boar or small game.
We have beautiful mountains, free-flowing rivers, and deep gorges encased by sheer cliffs. We invite you to come see for yourself what made John Muir fall in love with this place more than 150 years ago!