The People's Building houses an extensive exhibit on the fabulous Harrison Mayes, the coal miner who erected huge concrete crosses across the country. I have seen these signs since I was a child, but did not know the story behind them until visiting here.
As a young man, in 1918, Harrison Mayes was a crushed in an accident at a coal mine on the Tennessee/Kentucky border near Cumberland Gap. He was not expected to recover, but promised the Lord that if He would "pull him through", Mayes would devote the rest of his life to God's service. He indeed did recover and, true to his promise, erected these concrete signs far and wide.
In Mayes' own words:
"God have helped me to get these sacred signs in 50 states, 82 nations, on the 7 seas, all big rivers and lakes on earth."
Also in the People's building is the Christy Exhibit, the James Bunch Exhibit, and others.
This magnificant old building which houses the Appalachian Hall of Fame. It contains numerous displays devoted to relics belonging to notable, historic, famous, interesting, colorful and unusual folk from the surrounding region. Also on display are hundreds of early hand-made musical instruments, an extensive Indian artifact collection, and dozens of other exhibits.
I have spent hours in this building, loved every minute of it, and still needed more time. If this were the sum total of the museum it would be worth the admission price - but your tour has hardly begun.
The Museum Entrance Building is the place to purchase tickets and begin your tour of the Museum of Appalachia. In front of the building is a parking area shaded by big hardwood trees. The building contains a large Craft and Gift Shop featuring quality items made by more than 200 local folks, as well as an extensive Antique Shop. The Museum Cafe and restrooms are also located here.
The Museum Great Room, available for pre-arranged group meetings, receptios, etc., occupies a large portion of this building
The Museum of Appalachia was opened in the late 1960's with one log building, the General Bunch House, on a two-acre plot. Now it has grown to 65 acres, including dozens of authentic log structures, a large Display Building, an extensive Craft, Gift and Antique Shop, a Resturant, the Mountain Heritage Room, the popular Appalachian Hall of Fame Building, the People's Building and over a quarter million items.
"It was my intention not to develop a cold, formal, lifeless 'museum.' Rather, I have aimed for the 'lived-in' look, striving for, above all else, authenticity. It was my goal to make the Brunch House, the Arnwine Cabin, and all the other dwellings appear as though the family had just strolled down to the spring to fetch the daily supply of water."
--John Rice Irwin
Open 8:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. Daily, Year 'Round
Closed only on Christmas Day
July 4th Celebration
Tennessee Fall (October) Homecoming
Christmas in Old Appalachia
If you follow the signs off of I-75 to the "Museum of Appalachia", you will be pleasantly surprised. It is a large expanse of land with live animals and a number of buildings that serve to show how the people lived and some of the artifacts associated with the folks of appalachia. I think it was about $10/adult and free for smaller children. There were chicken, turkeys, peacocks, sheep, horses, roosters and other animals to see up close. Also, one building had several musicians playing folk tunes on typical instruments. You could spend a few hours here and it'd be well worth your time.