Friday, August 30, 2019

Last Stop on the Cumberland Plateau

The Cumberland Plateau is deeply dissected.  In places, the plateau rises to about 1,000 feet above the valleys that give the area a lot of character.  Our last stop was in the Sequatchie Valley, a deep valley within the plateau.  This valley is over 150 miles long, it’s almost straight, and it’s drained by the 116 mile long Sequatchie River.  The river empties into the Tennessee River downstream from Chattanooga near the Tennessee-Alabama State Line.  US Hwy. 127 follows the valley from north to south.

The Sequatchie Valley was part of Cherokee lands until 1805 when the Cherokee ceded it to the U.S. as part of the Treaty of Tellico.  The valley was probably named after a Cherokee chief…but the name may also have meant “beautiful valley” in the Cherokee language.

Back in the early days, the rough and challenging terrain led to the development of isolated settlements and towns with economies based on subsistence agriculture.  Our last stop was in one of those early towns, Pikeville Tennessee, the County Seat for Bledsoe County.

This is the Bledsoe County Courthouse in Pikeville.  Despite the fact that it looks fairly modern, this classic revival structure was actually completed in 1909.  Bledsoe County was formed in 1807 from land carved from Indian Land and part of Roane County.  It was named for a soldier in the Revolutionary War who was an early settler in the area.  

Due to its central location in the county, Pikeville was designated as the County Seat.  By 1833, the town had 5 stores, 2 blacksmiths, 4 shoemakers, a cabinet maker, 3 tailors, a saddle maker, a wagon maker and 2 cotton gins.  In 1834, Pikeville was the only stagecoach stop between Knoxville Tennessee and Huntsville Alabama.

Like many East Tennessee counties, Bledsoe County opposed secession on the eve of the Civil War.  Residents voted against secession by a margin of 500 to 197.  General James G. Spears, a resident of Bledsoe County, fought with the Union Army during the war.

This is the ‘Dr. James A. Ross House and Medical Office’.  It’s located at 102 Frazer Street in Pikesville.  This home, built in 1872, was designed in the ‘Folk Victorian style’, which is a combination of Queen Anne and Italianate styles.  Dr. Ross was a physician who served the Confederate States Army during the Civil War.  Two years after the war, he became a real estate investor and continued to serve as a physician for 43 years.  He was also prominent in local politics.

Bledsoe County acquired Dr. Ross’s home in 1997 and the Bledsoe County Historical Society renovated the home creating a community museum.  The sign out front states that it’s the Museum of Bledsoe County History…but I couldn’t find anything on-line about it.

Perhaps it was an effort to confuse visitors looking for historic homes but all of the homes in Pikesville’s South Main Street Historic District have been renumbered.  The addresses listed in the National Register have been replaced by a completely new set of street numbers.  Consequently, it was difficult to identify the historic homes.

The historic districts lines both sides of South Main Street for about a third of a mile.  It’s made up of 25 primary properties and their outbuildings, most of which were constructed between ca. 1885 and 1935.  Architectural styles include Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Classical Revival, Tudor Revival and Bungalow.

The handsome home shown above is located at (New street number) 2895 South Main Street.  It was built in 1920, sits on an acre of land and it has 13 rooms.  It’s now being operated as the White Wagon Bed and Breakfast.  Website:

This interesting looking Queen Anne home is located at 304 South Main Street. (Old street number) In the National Register it’s listed as the ‘W.A. Brown House’.  I particularly like the gable front, the wrap around porch with the columns and that balcony above the porch on the second floor.

Using the ‘new’ street number, I found out a bit about this big single family home on and  I love that expanded porch with the big portico at the right.  The 1906 ‘Vaughn house’, which looks like a Queen Anne/Victorian mix to me, sits on an acre of land, has 3,000+ sq. ft. and 3 baths.  It has hardwood floor throughout…

This unusually shaped church is appropriately located at 7 Methodist Avenue in Pikeville.  I believe that its old address was 221 South Main Street…right where Methodist Avenue intersects with South Main Street.  This Classical Revival structure was dedicated in 1920.  It’s the home of the Pikeville United Methodist Church.  With those impressive columns and the arch head windows on the second floor, it is an engaging structure.

I’m fairly sure that this big home at what I believe was numbered as 200 South Main Street is the ‘A.B. Crandall House’.  It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Tudor Revival home with a stone fence and an iron gate.  It was built ca. 1930.

This beautiful Classic Revival home at what was 316 South Main Street is definitely referred to as the ‘T.A. Pope House’.  This 2-story mansion and its brick and cast iron was built ca. 1906.  I actually found a photo of this home that verified its identity. 

This big white home is located at 2787 South Main Street (new house number).  It was built in 1892 and it’s known as the ‘Eliza Ault House’.  This home features 10 – 12 foot ceilings, 4 bedrooms and 3 baths in 3,340 sq. ft.  The home sits on two-thirds of an acre and there is an original log cabin plus a storage shed at the rear of the house.

This large all brick Federal style home at 106 East Spring Street was built ca. 1815 for John Bridgman and his family.  Bridgman was a co-founder of Pikeville and he served as a member of Tennessee’s House of Representatives.  The home’s exterior and interior walls are 12” thick.

Bridgman was instrumental in the establishment of a sound commercial and educational base in Bledsoe County.  He helped establish the first school of any significance in the county.  He also was merchant, the Commissioner of the Town of Pikeville and a member of the county court.  He was a significant land owner and he also owned many slaves.  Between 1818 and 1847 Bridgman bought and sold over 17,000 acres in the county.

The wife of former Union General James G. Spears purchased this house in 1869 after the death of her husband.  Note: General Spears had a rather ‘checkered’ career in the Union Army.  For the details, just go to  

After a number of owners over the years, the Bridgman/Spears House was purchased by the First National Bank of Pikeville.  It may currently be operating as a museum but I can’t verify that as fact…

This intriguing but somewhat foreboding structure is the former Bledsoe County Jail.  Originally, this was a brick building with a stone foundation that was completed in 1851.  It had a capacity of 5 prisoners plus the Sheriff’s family lived in the front section on both floors.  In 1937 the building was expanded and the new stone exterior was added.  Prisoner capacity increased to 9!  When the jail was added to the National Register of Historic Places in November of 2008, it was still operating as a jail.  At that time it was the oldest continually operating jail in Tennessee.  The building now serves as the Bledsoe County Veterans Office...

How about a side story?  Most of us have heard of the Hatfield and McCoy feud.  Well, Bledsoe County was the home of the Swafford and Tollett feud! From the 1890s until the 1930s, members of both families were often ‘visitors’ in the Pikeville Court and Bledsoe County Jail.  A long-standing family feud escalated on Presidential election-day in 1892.   Gunfire resulted in the death of one of Aaron Swafford’s sons as well as several wounded on both sides.  No one was convicted of the murder.  Two Swafford brothers avenged their brother by killing Bill Tollett in 1905.  Battles with the Tolletts continued mostly in courts into the 1920s.  

Outside of family disputes, members of the Swafford family battled with the law.  First they killed a Deputy Sheriff, then they killed a witness named Lee Price who testified against them.  Two years later, another Swafford was shot by the brothers of Lee Price.

Throughout the 1920s, Major Swafford, aka. “King Bee”, was arrested several times for the production of moonshine.  To make the situation even weirder, 5 different Swaffords served as Bledsoe County Sheriff’s during the late 1800s and well into the 1900s. (Talk about a conflict of interest!) As a final note on the Swaffords, Thomas Swafford, who served as the Sheriff in the early 1930s, was brutally murdered in October 1932.  The murder was never solved… 

There sure was a lot of action in this lightly populated county... During this period of time, the county had between 6,000 and 7,500 residents.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit…and a bit of history too!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Barbecue in Kingston Tennessee

Our friends Norm and Linda invited us to go to dinner with them over in Kingston Tennessee.  They’d recently eaten at the Public House in Kingston and they’d passed a barbecue restaurant that was really busy!  They wanted to give it a try and we readily agreed…

I took this photo of the Smokehouse Bar and Grill from a distance…just so I could include that classic Mercury Cougar convertible in the shot!  I’m guessing that it’s a 1972 or 1973 model.  It’s a great looking car but I’ve never seen a green interior like that before…

…and here’s a close-up of the entrance to the restaurant with Norm, Linda and Laurie about to enter.  The sign is pretty low key.  Love the American flags!

These 2 photos show the dining area with a close-up of the bar.  The restaurant reminded all of us of a ‘north country’ bar and grill.  All of us have spent a lot of time in northern Michigan and Wisconsin.  It’s a straight-forward look with most of the décor…and business…at the bar.  Apparently they do feature live music and we also found out that karaoke is really a big draw at the Smokehouse!

I don’t remember who ordered the side salad but it was decent…no issues.

The previous couple of photos show Norm’s dinner choice.  It was a little unusual… This is the Peanut Butter Bacon Cheeseburger. ($10.99) This was eight ounces of ground beef topped with white American cheese, pecan wood smoked bacon…and peanut butter.  Norm told us that it was a good sandwich.  The onion rings were just OK.

Linda ordered the same thing that I did…only with different sides.  Sorry about the angle of the photo!  This was her Beef Brisket Dinner Plate with green beans plus macaroni and cheese. ($12.99) Linda liked her sides but thought that the brisket was a bit dry.

Laurie loves barbecue ribs and we’ve had them all over the USA.  She ordered the Half Rack of Ribs…baby back ribs ‘rubbed and smoked to tender perfection’ served with one of the restaurant’s signature sauces. ($11.99)

There was only one problem.  These ribs were really dry, hard and tasteless!  She couldn’t eat them… The corn muffin was decent and the beer battered French fries were very tasty.  I ended up bringing almost all of her ribs home and slathering them with sauce and a sprinkling of water so I could microwave them ‘back to life’ for one of my leftover meals.

As I said previously, I also ordered the Beef Brisket Dinner Plate.  I agreed that the beer battered fries were very tasty…but the brisket was so dry that I used half a bottle of the Smokehouse spicy barbecue sauce so I could eat it.  As far as quantity goes, the prices were reasonable and portions were more than generous but, if the food doesn’t hit the mark, price and quantity doesn’t matter much.

Our waitress was very nice and helpful.  Before we really got into our food the owner came over because he saw me taking pictures and he wanted to know if everything was OK.  At that point, it was…

Maybe we visited the Smokehouse Bar and Grill on a bad day… If you’d like to give a try to form your own opinion, this restaurant is open from 8 AM until Midnight Sunday through Thursday and from 8 AM to 2 AM on Fridays and Saturdays.  The Smokehouse Bar and Grill is located at 708 West Race Street in Kingston Tennessee.  Phone: 865-248-8026.  Website:  Note: The website doesn’t seem to feature a menu so the prices I quoted came from a Zomato listing.

So following dinner, we returned to our house for dessert…Laurie’s molasses ginger cookies and ice cream!  Our foster cat Roger climbed into Norm’s lap and was rewarded by heavy petting.  Cute isn’t it!  Norm got in a little ‘trouble’ with Linda by complaining that their cats don’t sit in his lap… In any case, Roger has now moved on to a new home with his former owner’s son and his fiancé where Roger will get a lot of attention.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, August 26, 2019

More Cumberland Plateau History plus a Critter Update

This posting will continue our exploration of a couple of the towns on Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau.  In addition, there is an update on the cats we’re fostering plus a progress report on their owner’s search for a new place to live where she can have her 2 dogs and the cats.

This church in Altamont Tennessee looks older than it is.  FYI, the native stone for the veneer was gathered from nearby creek beds.  I was surprised to discover that it was a Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. (Mormon) It turned out that this church was completed due to the dedication and perseverance of Lewis F. Fults.  His dream for this chapel began to take shape with ground breaking in the spring of 1939.  At times, he was the only person working to complete the church.  Due to financial constraints, construction difficulties and World War II, the church wasn’t dedicated until November of 1947.

Mr. Fults also served as postmaster, operated a general store and filling station, served several terms as County Registrar as well as Mayor of Altamont.  Services were held in this building from 1946 until 1981.  Membership had grown to over 200 and a new church was built about a mile from this one.

Citizens of East Tennessee have always supported democracy in times of need, providing more than its share of volunteers for service in the military.  The Altamont Veterans Memorial Park is located right on TN Hwy. 56 in the center of town.  The big memorial monument above the classic stone wall at the right commemorates those from Grundy County who gave their lives in defense of the USA in WWI and WWII.

We really felt that this beat up looking army boot sculpture on the wall was especially poignant.  Its right in front of a memorial dedicated to those from the area who died in the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts. 

The Harris B. Northcutt house, built in 1885, is the largest and most prominent brick house in Grundy County.  Harris Northcutt was one of 15 children born into an influential family.  His parents, General Adrian Northcutt and Sarah Cope came from pioneer families in the area.  General Northcutt was a Captain in the Mexican War and later became a Brigadier General in the Tennessee Militia.  He also served for 10 years in the Tennessee Legislature.  He ensured that Altamont was selected as the Grundy County Seat.  His son H.B. Northcutt learned business from his father and he operated his father’s businesses until Harris died in 1910.

At some point, a descendant of the Northcutt family, Miss Fanny Moffit moved into the 12 room house.  She’d inherited thousands of acres of land and was quite wealthy, receiving royalties from coal mining and lumber harvesting from her property.  Miss Fanny (at 5’1” and weighing 200+ lbs.) died in 1955 at only 62 years of age.  She left no will so the legal fun began.  $15,000 in cash and royalty checks were found in the house and her furnishings alone were valued at $15,000.  FYI, Miss Fanny was buried in a $7,500 copper casket… 

To learn more about her death, the estate and her various quirks, (via an extensive newspaper article), just go to,%20Fannie.pdf.

In recent years, the Northcutt-Moffit home was operated as a bed and breakfast called The Manor.  However, from what I can tell it is closed for business.

This large frame house was built ca. 1900.  I missed this listing from the National Register but Laurie’s sharp eye spotted the home.  The L.V. Woodlee House is located in Altamont on Cumberland Street behind the County Courthouse.  L.V. Woodlee was a prominent citizen, an attorney and a banker.  He served in several county offices including 30 years as a member of the Grundy County Board of Education.  In addition, he was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives and the State Senate. 

From Altamont, we headed south down TN Hwy. 56 to the town of Coalmont…a town of about 840 residents.  This building from the National Register of Historic Places is known as the Coalmont Bank Building or as the Sewanee Fuel and Iron Company Building.  Locals prefer the first name due to the long term tenancy of the Coalmont Savings Bank which occupied the building’s first floor from 1921 to 1975.

Coalmont was created as a company town in 1903, operated by the Sewanee Coal, Coke and Land Company.  The company built the original residences, businesses and commercial buildings.  SCCLC reorganized and changed its name in 1908.  This building was built in 1921 to house company offices as well as civic facilities.  The bank and the post office were on the first floor and the company was on the second floor.  Today, the Coalmont Bank Building is home to the Coalmont City Hall and the town’s library.

The following is an update about our temporary ‘wards’.  I’ll start with a couple of photos…

This shows Loulou and Roger sleeping together...sort of!  Most of the time Lou- lou bothers Roger to the point that he just gets up and leaves wherever he is, but he usually tolerates her at naptime.

Loulou is a sweet little cat…probably no more than about 5 or 6lbs.  Like Roger, her front paws are declawed.  She loves to play with plastic straws that are tied together.  Here she’s getting a little attention from Laurie.

Roger is a big boy…probably around 18 lbs.  He’ll do well in a house where his food can be rationed. (In other words, where food doesn’t have to be left down for other cats) Roger is a lover though.  He’s perfectly happy to be picked up like a baby and it is challenging to pet him ‘enough’!

Now about the status of our foster cats… One of my concerns when we entered into this temporary fostering effort was that it wouldn’t be temporary.  Indeed, the original owner has given up her efforts to find a rental property in our area that will permit her to have cats.  Her dogs are apparently OK though…

We can’t keep them permanently as Laurie is allergic to cats as are several members of both her immediate family and our son’s family.  Laurie’s on double dose allergy meds now!  We would rather have visitors than cats!  In any case, it appears that Roger will be ‘adopted’ by the cat’s owner’s son, who was raised with him.  Loulou is still looking for a good home…and we’re hopeful!  She is a very sweet cat and very good about entertaining herself and is truly a very smart 2 year old!   

That’s all for now.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, August 23, 2019

An ‘Evolution’ in Dining – Dayton Tennessee

If you’ve been following our recent drive exploring part of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, I just wanted to let you know that I decided to break up the historical photos a bit…and move to the end of the day.  

Based on feedback from friends, we decided to end our drive at a restaurant they’d visited in Dayton Tennessee.  We had been to Dayton before, but hadn’t eaten there…

The first photo shows the logo for the Monkey Town Brewing Company.  The company now owns 3 restaurants…and the logos are all different…except for the monkey in the middle.

Why the monkey symbol?  Why name the brewery The Monkey Town Brewing Company?  The reason is historical.  Dayton Tennessee is the town where in 1925, the Scopes Trial (Scopes Monkey Trial) was held.  It was all about the right to teach evolution, which was illegal in Tennessee at the time.  

Famous journalist H.L. Mencken covered the trial for the Baltimore Sun newspaper and he recruited Clarence Darrow to lead the defense team on teacher John T. Scopes’ behalf.  Lawyer, politician and 3-time Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan was the prosecutor.  To learn more about this trial, just go to

This is a large portion of the dining area at The Monkey Town Brewing Company.  As befitting a brewery, the room has an industrial feel to it.  We sat in a smaller area just off to the right in this photo.  It contained a few conventional square tables…my preference when dining.   

Laurie took this photo of the brewery portion of the building.  As you can see, the ‘brew master’ was hard at work!  With 15 Monkey Town beers on tap during our visit, he needed to be focused and working hard.  In addition to this restaurant, he also has to keep the beer in stock at their 2 other locations, the Euchee Grill Brewhouse in Ten Mile Tennessee and the Old Capital Public House in Kingston Tennessee.

Since we were dining in a brewery, we of course had to sample a couple of beers.  I had that tall glass of ale.  All of the beers have colorful or meaningful names.  My American blonde ale is titled “Little Miss Thang”. ($5.25) Laurie loves ‘hoppy’ beers so she chose “Evolution IPA #35”. ($5.50) Her beer was brewed with flaked oats and then double dry-hopped.  We both enjoyed our beers!

The names given Monkey Town’s beers are quite imaginative!  Some examples include: Elbows Off the Table; Hey, Danny Boy, the Pipes are Calling on Line 1; Wanna See a Magic Trick?, and; I Like My Cookies w/a Little Kareem.

On to the food… For a starter, we ordered the House-made Beer Cheese. ($6.95) We could have had it with French fries or the tortilla chips and our choice is obvious as per the photo.  We also could have asked for pita bread for a $1.00 up-charge.

For Midwesterners who crave beer cheese, we both agreed that this beer cheese was a little funky…certainly not what we would have expected.  I don’t know how to describe the flavor but at least for us, it wasn’t all that great.  I do believe that it would have been paired better with the fries or possibly pita bread.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know what the beer cheese tasted like when I ordered my entrée...and I normally love beer cheese.  Guess what I ordered!  This was the 8 oz. Beer Cheese Burger. ($11.95) The burger was topped with a slice of fried green tomato and bacon, but taste-wise I couldn’t get past the beer cheese.

The homemade potato chips were OK but nothing special.  Looking back at the menu, there were many other choices that I would have preferred.  The next time through, I’ll know what to avoid.

For only the second time in our 10 years in East Tennessee, we spotted one of our favorite fish on the menu.  Laurie ordered the New Orleans Barramundi with steamed broccoli. ($16.95) This large fish filet was blackened and served on a bed of rice, then topped with 2 grilled shrimp and topped with a Cajun Alfredo sauce.  Laurie even gave me a taste…and it was excellent!

FYI, the first time we had Barramundi was many years ago in Australia. The species is widely distributed from Northern Australia to Papua New Guinea and Southeast Asia.  It is also becoming a popular fish being raised in aquaculture…with a couple of farms even operating in the USA.  To learn more about this mild and flaky fish, you can go to

To summarize, dinner didn’t work out too well for me but Laurie really enjoyed her entrée.  The beer cheese was a definite negative but what the heck…different strokes for different folks.  The beer was above average and the service was fine.  The next time we dine at one of Monkey Town’s venues, I’ll simply use my previous experience to order wisely.

Monkey Town Brewing Company is located at 287 1st Avenue in Dayton Tennessee.  They are open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.  Phone: 423-775-1800.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Beersheba Springs Tennessee

When I planned out a recent route for the exploration of a portion of the Cumberland Plateau that we hadn’t visited before, the name Beersheba Springs Tennessee caught my eye.  The name is definitely unusual and it’s also Biblical…

We found the town easy enough by just cruising north up TN Hwy. 56 from Altamont.  The trick was actually finding the historic portion of this little town.  There weren’t any easily noted signs pointing the way so we just cruised up and down the local streets looking for our objectives…

Once we found the right groupings of side streets, we discovered an entire series of historic and very attractive old homes.  Even the gate and the walkway for Hemlock Hall were quite appealing.  This home, built between 1856 and 1858, is located on Grassy Ridge Road in Beersheba Springs.  It has those great gingerbread gables and the verandah with ornamental iron columns.

The entire core area of Beersheba Springs is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The National Historic District consists of about 55 log and frame structures… The town is located in Grundy County Tennessee.  Its current population is about 460. 

This is another house or cottage along our drive through town.  I did find a map and some photos of homes that were labeled but for many of the structures, identification just wasn't feasible so we just enjoyed them! 

So how did Beersheba Springs come to exist?  How did it get its name?  In 1833, Mrs. Beersheba Porter Cain “discovered” a chalybeate spring descending the Cumberland Plateau down into the Collins River Valley.  About 6 years later, the owners of the spring incorporated the Beersheba Springs Company and a road was constructed across the plateau.  The company built cottages in the “Virginia Style” and southerners were invited to come and take advantage of the cooler temperatures on the plateau as well as the beautiful scenery and the therapeutic waters… 

FYI…chalybeate waters are also known as ferruginous waters… They are mineral spring waters that contain salts of iron.

Laurie is a huge fan of HGTV’s “Barnwood Builders” and she was very happy to see that this log cabin was being preserved and restored.  In reviewing the information on record with the National Register of Historic Places, many of the cottages in the area were built as log structures but they have been covered with weatherboard…

The spring itself and the area surrounding it was incorporated in 1839.  From the start the town served as a summer resort.  It had a small hotel and a number of log cabins.  The resort was very popular with stagecoach traffic that traveled between McMinnville and Chattanooga Tennessee.

There are impressive and interesting homes scattered throughout the historic district.  This is one of the larger homes we saw on our drive through town.  It is the Old Beersheba Inn also known as the Harding Cottage.  It was built between 1856 and 1858.

The County Court of Grundy County organized in 1844 and it met in Beersheba Springs for several years.  Then in 1854, a financier and former slave trader from Louisiana, Colonel John Armfield, purchased the property.  He brought upwards of 100 slaves to the town to work on his changes to the property.  His plan was to build a new luxury hotel, cabins and grounds that could accommodate up to 400 guests.

We took a lot of photos of the homes and structures in Beersheba Springs.  The first one shown above is “The Clifts” aka the Armfield Cottage.  It was built between 1833 and 1839.  The log cottage pictured may be either the Bishop Polk Cottage or the Bishop Otey Cottage. 

Two cottages were given to the Episcopal Bishops by John Armfield in an attempt to influence the selection of the plateau as a site for the University of the South.  It worked!  The University of the South is actually located on 13,000 acres 25 miles or so south of Beersheba Springs in Sewanee Tennessee.  For more about this private Episcopalian college, go to

Most of the homes in town are well maintained.  Following the Civil War and the loss of fortunes or lives by southern owners of the cottages, many of them were later acquired by merchants and professionals from Nashville and other towns in Middle Tennessee.  Their descendants continue to own and use a number of them even today. 

This beautiful home with porches on both levels is the John M. Bass cottage, also known as the Turner Cottage.

Armfield also succeeded in influencing settlement on the plateau.  He convinced Eugen Plumacher to recommend the area as the site for a Swiss Colony at nearby Gruetli…now Gruetli-Laager.

This is the Beersheba Hotel that Colonel Armfield had constructed.  This large hotel was built between 1856 and 1858.  It was built around an existing tavern dating back to 1836.
Back in the day, Beersheba Springs entertained hundreds of guests.  The height of its popularity was between 1856 and 1860.  Guests could dance, bowl, play tennis, sing along, dine on fresh meats, fruits and vegetables or just relax in the spring itself. (The spring has long since dried up) Gambling and the sale of alcohol was prohibited.  In the summer, guests found refuge on the plateau from the fevers that plagued the lowlands.  As a stagecoach full of guests approached the resort, its progress would be announced with a bugle at various points along the road.

This is the vista of the Collins River Valley as seen from the front of the hotel.  As you can readily see, Beersheba Springs sits far above the lowlands.  The Collins River is 67 miles long and its part of the Cumberland, Ohio and Mississippi watersheds.

The Civil War caused the decline of the resort.  In 1863, bushwhackers or ‘irregulars’ actually looted the resort.  (I’m amazed that it wasn’t destroyed during the conflict) After the war, Colonel Armfield repossessed the cottages and John Bass bought the hotel.  However, due to the hard times following the war, the resort never regained its popularity.  The hotel opened again in 1871 and several different owners tried to operate the building as a hotel or tourist camp until 1941 when it was purchased by the Tennessee Methodist Conference. 

The Tennessee Methodist Conference has refurbished the hotel and they’ve added several buildings on the property adjacent to the hotel.  Although they’re not really in the style of the old hotel or the surrounding homes, the new structures aren’t totally out of character.  Among other structures, the church has added a bathhouse, dormitory, family lodge, a multi-purpose building and a maintenance building.  The building shown above is called “Eastside” and it is set up like a motel with 22 rooms each with private baths. 

I thought that this chapel was old…but in this town, its relatively new!  It was actually built by the Tennessee Methodist Conference in 1949.   

This is the Old Northcutt store…ca. 1856.  It’s right across from the Methodist chapel and diagonally down Armfield Avenue from the old hotel. This was a large general store that carried a wide variety of goods, really a bit of just about everything, designed to fulfill the needs of local residents and visitors alike.   In later years it was operated by Tommy Northcutt, apparently a descendant of the original proprietor.  It became a meeting place for everyone…

To learn more about the history of Beersheba Springs, go to  To learn about the Tennessee Methodist Conference facilities, you can go to

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave