Contrast on the Plateau

Contrast on the Plateau

August 18th, 2012 by Adam Poulisse in Glimpse 2012-a

Flat Fork Creek pours over Debord Falls in Frozen Head State Park and Natural Area Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009 near Wartburg, Tenn. (Adam Brimer/News Sentinel)

Flat Fork Creek pours over Debord Falls in...

Photo by The Knoxville News Sentinel /Times Free Press.

Wartburg, Tenn., in Morgan County has German roots and a big prison while nearby Rugby began as a utopian colony in English Victorian style, and they are near some of the most rugged wilderness in Tennessee. The obvious differences combine for a special experience on the Cumberland Plateau.

Even New York has envied the area. A travel columnist's article published in the New York Times in 1981 about a visit to Rugby presented the town's Victorian atmosphere as a definite delight.

Rugby remains essentially the same since then, and Wartburg retains its own captivating charm.


Cool back-to-nature place

•Frozen Head State Park encompasses 24,387 acres, much of that in undisturbed forest with some of the richest wildflowers in Tennessee. It is open from 8 a.m. until sunset year-round.

•The area is part of the Upper Cumberland Quilt Trail, which is part of a regional commitment to preserve the art of traditional quilting. The Tennessee Iris quilt pattern is displayed on the front of the park's visitors center.

•During the Civil War, the land was bought by northern industrialists and land speculators for its valuable timber and coal reserves.

Source: Tennessee Parks


Caught up in Rugby

•Historic Rugby is a true blast from the past - an 1880s Victorian town that has survived and been preserved until today.

•The Hughes Free Public Library is still as it was when it opened in 1882, touting a 7,000-volume collection.

•Town founder Thomas Hughes had an English rural style cottage that remains open with many of the original furnishings.

•The Rugby Schoolhouse, circa 1907, is a picturesque reminder of days gone by. The two-and-a-half-story building operated as an all-grade school until 1951.

Source: Historic Rugby


Two kinds of old-world culture

•Held every May, the Festival of British and Appalachian Culture presents the best of both worlds.

•"Pickin in Rugby" is a music and dance competition held during the festival.

•Traditional arts and crafts are created in front of the attendee's eyes, making for a festive and informative experience.

Source: Frank Mosley of Yahoo! Voices


A good night with two meals

•Grey Gable's Bed and Breakfast off Highway 52 at Rugby provides lodging, an evening meal and a country breakfast.

•The Victorian-style home features a dollhouse look in all 10 of its bedrooms, sure to transport visitors into the good ol' days.

•Grey Gable's has been featured in Southern Living, Country Decorating Ideas and other publications, plus the TV program "B&Bs of Tennessee."

Source: Bed & Breakfast Online


Home to captive audience

•Population: 930 (Wartburg)

•Biggest employer: Tennessee Department of Correction

•Number of miles from downtown Chattanooga: 100

•Landmarks or geographic feature: Frozen Head State Park, which has some of the state's highest elevations outside the Blue Ridge Mountains

•Date founded: 1805

•Historic info: The area was ceded by the federal government in 1805 from inhabiting Native Americans for German settlement.

•Odd/unique traditions: At 4 p.m. every Dec. 3, the English village of Rugby hosts a lantern-lit tour of historic homes.

•Unique characteristic: Wartburg is home to a regional prison and near the Petros site of the now-closed Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary where James Earl Ray served his sentence for killing Martin Luther King Jr.

Sources: Various websites including Wartburg Chamber of Commerce and previous Times Free Press reports.

- Compiled by staff writer Adam Poulisse,, 423-757-6592