Hike Into History | “Coal Mining in the South Cumberlands”
Highlights for a self-guided hike
Trailhead: Lone Rock Trail, in the Grundy Lakes area of the park, just off US 41, south of Tracy City, TN [map]
Coal mining was, for a time, an important part of the economy of this region, from the 1870s until around 1920. "Mining in the South Cumberlands" takes you to the Grundy Lakes area of South Cumberland State Park, just south of Tracy City, where you can see remains of the beehive-shaped coke ovens where the coal was heated to produce coal coal, which was later used in blast furnaces to make iron and steel. On the Lone Rock Trail, you'll also see depressions in the hillsides surrounding the lake. These are remains of many small, narrow mine shafts, called "dog hole mines" because of their small size. While the discovery of coal in this area generated enough interest to build the Mountain Goat Railroad (to get the ore to market), and was also responsible for the creation of Tracy City, originally a "company town" for the mining industry, ultimately, the volume and quality of coal in this area could not compete with richer deposits found in areas further north, such as West Virginia.
Leaving the trailhead at the parking area by the lake, here are some of the trail highlights:
The Lone Rock Trail winds through woods, around the main lake, and leads you alongside the coke ovens. This trail has much scenic beauty in addition to its historic sites. Total length of the trail is approximately 1.3 miles, but many shorter walks are possible since it crosses several picnic areas and has numerous road crossings.
Total trail distance: about 1.3 miles | easy
Remains of coke ovens at Grundy Lakes, just south of Tracy City, TN.