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
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
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 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.
These three shops under one roof represent three of the most important pioneer industries. The blacksmith shop, in which wooden bellows are used for firing the forge, features a large assortment of tools used in a typical shop of this region. An actual blacksmith sometimes can be seen working here. The center portion of this building houses the wheelwright shop - one of the most complete in the country.
In the Arnwine Cabin, in the early to mid 1800's, old Wes Arnwine and his wife reared a large family, and many hundreds of descendents still live in the East Tennessee region. The last occupants of the cabin were "old Aunt Julie and Polly Ann" Arnwine.
The cabin was built around 1800 on the Clinch River near Liberty Hill in Grainger County - about 40 miles northeast of the Museum. It has been designated as an historical place by the U.S. Department of the Interior and is included on the National Register of Historic Places - one of the smallest buildings ever to receive such a designation. It is fully furnished in frontier style.
The Irwin's Chapel Log Church or meeting house, was built aroung 1840, near the community of Hamburg, in the mountainous county of Madison, North Carolina. After it was no longer used as a meeting house, it was acquired by a local farmer and was later purchased by Thomas Tweed of Woodfin, North Carolina, for $35 and a cowboy hat. John Rice Irwin purchased the building and all the contents from Tweed's widow in 1976.
The log pulpit and benches were reportedly from the original church, and the rocking chair belonged to old Ben Davis, a Baptist preacher who rode over Madison County on a horse "spreading the word."
The Hacker Martin Gristmill is the newest addition to the Museum of Appalachia. It is an authentic water-powered corn and wheat mill that was originally located in the community of Boone's Creek, a few miles from Johnson City in northeast Tennessee. The Mill is still undergoing renovations, and can only be viewed from the exterior at this time.
This bark grinder was used by pioneer settlers for crushing the bark of trees to obtain tannin, a necessary ingredient in the tanning of animal hides. A mule would be used to power the grinder, walking around in circles to turn the heavy stone.
The Peters House and Homestead was moved from its original location in adjoining Union County near the village of Lutrell. The first known occupant was Nathaniel Peters who lived here about 1840. His oldest daughter, Cordelia, was born here and raised her own nine children in this house, where she died at the age of 87.
"Cuzin" Raye Rutherford and other entertainers may often be seen here in the Peters House playing their musical instruments and singing old-time mountain songs.
This Overhang or Cantilever Barn was moved from its original location near Seymour in Sevier County, Tennessee. The extreme eastern part of Tennessee, in and near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is one of the few regions in the country where this type of barn is found. The rocky, steep terrain with few level building sites made it practical to build a larger structure as this on a smaller foundation.
The McClung House was built a few miles southwest of Knoxville on the wagon path that later came to be known as Kingston Pike and U.S. Hwy. 70. It is thought to have been built in the 1790's, by the McClungs who later became one of East Tennessee's most prominent families. Tradition has it that this house was used asa hospital for wounded soldiers during the Civil War.
Broomcorn was grown by almost every early family and made into round brooms, consisting of a few bunches of broomstraw tied on a stick. The wooden "geared and cogged" rope making machine housed in this old log buiding enabled one to make any size rope desired by twisting three smaller strands into one. The machine is made completely of wood.
This one-room, dirt-floored structure was used by 20th Century Fox as the frontier home of Daniel Boone in the TV series for CBS called Young Dan'l Boone. It is an authentic pioneer log cabin, built in the New River Section of Anderson County, Tennessee, in the early 1800's. It is fully furnished with the earliest frontier pioneer artifacts.
Mark Twain's Family Cabin, moved here from 'Possum Trot, Tennessee, once served as the home of Mark Twain's parents and some of their children. The famous writer and humorist was born some five months after the family left Tennessee in 1835, so it is likely he was conceived in this cabin.
There is a little corn crib adjacent to the cabin that came from an isolated area in the Kentucky mountains.