Our Ghost Hunts at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary will truly take you to “The End of the Line”!
The haunted Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary is one of the most frightening locations in Tennessee.
Paranormal activity includes apparitions, shadows, disembodied voices, unexplained loud bangs, growls, and physical attacks.
Driving through Petros, Tennessee on State Road 116 provides amazing scenic views of the majestic Allegheny Mountains.
As you take in the structures of this small community, you’ll find life largely unchanged from 1817, when Morgan County was initially formed.
You’ll reach a remote section of the Cumberland Plateau which nearly encircles a complex of buildings with a 4-story structure sitting out front.
You’ve arrived at the truly historic and terrifying Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary! It’s time to steel your nerves and step inside one of Tennessee’s most historic and darkly haunted locations.
In the late 1800’s, the state of Tennessee engaged in leasing convicts for unpaid prison labor. By 1896, the lease agreements ended as a result of protest, and convicts were forced to build a set of wooden buildings in an especially remote and secure area of the Cumberland Plateau.
210 convicts were among the first to be housed at the newly built Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. These convicts were forced to work in coal mines, with severe beatings from a leather strap as punishment for those who weren’t though to meet production. Many died from these beatings.
By the 1920’s the wooden structures caught fire. Plans were created for a larger, more secure facility to house convicts. In 1934, a massive stone building was completed, built in the shape of a cross. For some, this cross was a path to redemption. For others, this cross could mean they were unworthy.
By 1957, an area of small dark cells known as “The Hole” was closed. Inmates were housed in “The Hole” so long they became blind, and many were hung by their thumbs. D-Block was constructed on the site of the old morgue, for the purpose of isolating the worst offenders from everywhere else.
Convicts worked primarily in coal mines until the 1960’s. Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary was quickly earning a reputation as a last stop for convicts that couldn’t be housed at any other prison due to acts of violence, attempts to escape, or causing any other type of serious security issues.
In 1969, a minimum-security building was constructed outside the walls for Inmates who worked in outside jobs such as the Volunteer Fire Department. Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary also became known as “The End of the Line”. The saying became “If Brushy can’t handle you, you can’t be handled.”
In March of 1970, James Earl Ray was sent to Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary after escaping Missouri State Penitentiary and being convicted for the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ray unsuccessfully attempted to escape in 1971 by removing a cinder block from his cell and climbing through the hole. Ray made a second escape attempt in 1972 by attempting to cut through an air vent.
Due to the intense risks for working in a prison housing convicts who were considered the worst in the state (and sometimes, the country), the staff went on strike in 1972. Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary closed until 1976, when it was thought a handle could be gotten on the violence at this notorious prison.
On June 10, 1977, James Earl Ray and six other convicts escaped from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary with the use of a ladder constructed from steel pipe. By June 13, Ray and the other escapees had been captured in the mountains. In June 1981, Ray was stabbed 22 times but survived.
On February 8, 1982, tensions between white and black convicts reached a boiling point. After fights in the recreation yard and several other violent incidents, seven white convicts escaped their cells and took four guards hostage. They also shot several black Inmates at close range, resulting in the death of two.
In 1982, a chapel was built on the side of an old segregated bathhouse. In 1989, a high security area was built at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. D-Block was converted to minimum security housing. After many years of attempting to close a history of than 100-years of violence, torture, and death at one of the most violent prisons in the country, Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary closed in 2009.
By 2013, Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary was leased for use as a distillery. The site boasts a gift shop, a museum, accessible areas for daytime tours, a restaurant known as the “Warden’s Table”, and a stage where events such as concerts are held. Paranormal tours are also offered at night for those looking to meet any spirits who, even in death, never left “The End of the Line”.
Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary stands today as a historic and haunting reminder of unimaginable tragedy. The layers of history that occurred on these grounds results in an energy that you can feel from the moment you step inside. Brushy Mountain is one of the most storied locations in the entire country.
Before you step inside the walls, shift your gaze around the Cumberland Plateau. These mountains are filled with the bodies, relics, and spirits of Native Americans. Can you see, hear, or feel their presence?
Standing in the courtyard, will you encounter the female spirit known as Bonnie? No females were housed at Brushy Mountain, but Bonnie may be able to explain what ties her spirit to this land.
Many spirits are known to roam the cafeteria. One nicknamed “Waterhead” could be looking for revenge, or to confirm he is the prisoner who was brutally murdered here while working in this area.
At the whipping post, will you hear the cries of those who were brutally beaten, sometimes to death? Or will you be greeted by the spirits of many prisoners who were hanged or shot and left where they lay?
While James Earl Ray didn’t die at Brushy Mountain, he attempted escapes multiple times and was nearly stabbed to death. Has his spirit forever been sentenced to serve time at “The End of the Line?”
A dark entity that is known for physical attacks likes to reside in the 3rd floor auditorium and hospital area. Perhaps you can figure out what this entity is and why it seems to be so negative and aggressive.
Each cell block contains stories of violence and death. The many spirits who remain in these cells and hallways are looking for something. Spend some time finding out who they are and why they remain.
The chapel offered convicts a chance at peace. Some looked at religious conversion as a convenience, while others underwent a real transformation. Perhaps a spirit will tell a story of genuine redemption.
The horrific history of Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary has led to a mixture of spirits from Native Americans who once ruled these lands, unspeakably violent convicts, overtly brutal staff, and many deaths from coal mining and other related working conditions.
The stories of true events at this notoriously rough prison are real. The imprints of that energy are forever evident throughout these storied buildings and grounds. It’s true. And it can be truly terrifying.
Join us for an investigation during our inaugural events at the legendary Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. It’s time to see just how long you can last while spending time at “The End of the Line!”