Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Briceville, TN – Coal Creek

Located in rural Anderson County, not far from Lake City, is the small community of Briceville, along Coal Creek. Today, not much remains of Briceville. It was started in the mid-1800s as a mining town, and grew to a fairly prosperous town centered on the mining industry. Practically every man who lived along Coal Creek worked in the mines.
The Coal Creek Mining and Manufacturing Co. kept everyone in Briceville employed, until prisoners were sent to work in the mines. This first happened in 1877, and while it saved the mining company money, it also left many miners without a job. As a result, the now unemployed miners became very angry, to the point of taking up arms and revolting. On October 31, 1891, the armed band of miners attacked the mines and freed the convicts. After this, the state militia was sent in to stop the revolt, leading to some skirmishes between the militia and the miners. Though the revolt was defeated, the convict labor system was eventually discontinued. In 1898, Brushy Mountain State Prison was established in nearby Morgan County.
Among those killed in the uprising was a young miner named Dick Drummond. During the insurrection, the militia captured him, and lynched him from a railroad bridge in Briceville. Today, that bridge is known as "Drummond Bridge." Local legend holds that the ghost of Dick Drummond still haunts the bridge to this day.
Just over a decade after the mining revolt, one of the greatest tragedies in the history of Tennessee occurred. The Fraterville Mining disaster killed 184 of the 187 men living in the area. This disaster led to many new regulations on the mining industry geared at making them safer.
Today, the mines of Briceville are long closed, but it's said that on quiet nights, when the moon is full, you can still hear the screams of the miners who died in the great disaster a century ago.


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Anonymous said...

In March of 2013, I was in Coal Creek on an ATV trip, we went for a late afternoon trip the first night and my front end axle broke. We spemt several hours trying to fix it, several hours later around 2am I was up and moving again. We drove slowly to avoid more damage and heard several strange sounds but kept moving to get back to our cabin. It was 30 degrees that nigt and we were all wet, tired, and freezing. I was in the back of the pack when I passed a man in greyish blue pants with a matching short-sleeve button down shirt. I was in a hurry to get back so didnt say anything to my friends until we reached our cabin and setteled in for the night. I asked if any of them saw the crazy man standing on the side of the trail, but noone else had seen him. I described him exactly as I saw him. At the end of our weekend as we were checking out, one of the people in our group was looking through an old photo album in the lobby and handed it to me joking that the guy in the picture taken in the late 1800's looked like the man I described. As I looked at the photo, my friends noticed my fear because the man in the photo was the same man I saw on the side of the trail staring at me on our first night.