Saturday, September 6, 2014

September 6, 2014 - Tracy City, Abandoned Places

It's not just what you know, but also who you know. Our favorite Tennessee State Park Ranger came through for us again and took us around some of the less-visited spots that not everybody has access to today.

First stop, the ruins of an old sand plant outside Tracy City where sandstone was ground into sand and then transported to the Coke Cola bottling plant nearby to be made into glass bottles.










Next up, the abandoned cabins of Camp Mountain Lake near Grundy lake. I couldn't find any references on the web for why exactly the camp shut down but I did find this little bit of information about its founding:

Camp Mountain Lake was founded by Sewanee (The University of the South) football coach Horace Moore in 1946, and ran every summer until 1987 under his supervision. It drew children from all over the country, especially from the Southeast. Coach Moore's approach at the camp created a lasting affection among the campers and their families for both its director and the grounds of the camp.


This seems to conflict with the sign found inside the camp that credits the founding of the camp with George Reynolds. Based on this newspaper article, Mr Reynolds was the Director of the camp. It looks like the previous campers and counselors were having reunions as early as 2004, based on this Yahoo Group posting and (Colonel) Reynolds appeared to have been a member. Further poking around in the group indicates that Coach Moore passed in 2005 and there was a falling out among the members. I also found Coach Moore's Wikipedia entry but there is no mention of the camp.


Table practically set for a meal


Domino pieces on the floor of a cabin

"Tao of Pooh" in a bucket

Mattress, sink and cot frame- AM/FM radio on the mattress

Photo of a small child and book on cabin floor

Quite an impressive wardrobe in another cabin

Rusted metal cabnet




What appears to have been the gym

Craft workshop

Sign leaning against one of the buildings

This next building was a goldmine of interesting objects and left-behind art and craft projects. It had been the glassworks run by a Ed Russell. Attempts to find any information about Mr. Russell haven't been very productive- with the exception of the Yahoo Group I mentioned above. I can't find any evidence that he's still working with glass. The domain names that were listed on several business cards that we found in the glassworks are no longer maintained and up for sale. The winking cat spray-painted on the side of the building appears to have been his logo, but Google image searches don't turn up anything. I did have some luck using the Internet Wayback Machine. Let this be a lesson for everybody- what they say about anything you put out on the web being out there forever... it's true. From the archives of his website (similar text as I found above):


Ed Russell attended Camp Mountain Lake from 1972, when he was 9 years old, until 1978. He would return to the camp as a councelor and as the cook for Sewanee football team during their training at Camp Mountain Lake. Ed, his mother Esther, and many former campers speak of the sense of community and family that was fostered here.




Just inside the main door

Esther holds up a canvas depicting a glassblower

Prescription glasses on the floor of the shed

Discarded magazines and decal sheets with the winking cat logo 

Table of various glass art pieces, mostly undisturbed and unbroken

Banner at the back of the shed

More glass pieces, a furnace can be seen on the left

Weird mix of random VHS tapes

One of the glass furnaces

The other furnace surrounded by furniture

Mounted bear head near the entrance

Discarded canvases with works in various states of completion

Wider shot with the glassworks on the left
Our Ranger-Guide had to break off and see to some park business so we headed into Tracy City to grab something to eat. We usually stop at the Dutch Maid Bakery, but decided we wanted something with a little more meat to it. We tried the new "The Gizzard" restaurant because we had heard the menu incorporated many of the local features. I'm sure it might be a great place at a different time of day, but the lunch staff didn't seem too interested in acknowledging our presence so we moved on over to the Lunch Box. I had heard tales of the Mega Burger and after walking around in both the blazing sun at the sand plant and then nearly being washed down the hill at the old camp it sounded like something that Jake and I wanted to take part of.



Jake had a Mega Burger with bacon and I had a Mushroom Swiss Mega Burger. The patty was huge and came to the edge of the bun like it should. The fries were perhaps a little over-cooked but not burned. Everybody else had some version of burger or sandwich and I didn't hear any complaints. Service was nice and attentive. The place isn't much to look at, but it's clean and comfortable.

We met up again at Grundy lake but not before a quick hike down the Lone Rock Trail where Esther and I took some mushroom pics.






We also took a tour of our Ranger's recent land acquisition, an awesome 2.5 acres on a bluff, but I managed to not take any pictures of the view. Next trip.

All the pictures from the day are here

10 comments:

  1. Camp Mountain Lake began as an all boys camp in the summer of 1947. It was founded by Mr. George Reynolds of Sewanee, TN. The camp was purchased by Coach Horace Moore in 1970. Girls were admitted as campers for the first time during the second sessions of 1971 & 1972. Beginning in the summer of 1973, camp became coed on a full time basis, and remained that way until it closed for good after the summer of 1987.

    It was a wonderful place, where many of us couldn't wait to leave home and spend either 4 or 8 weeks during the summer with friends of all ages and from all over!

    During the Fourth of July weekend in 2005, a large group of former campers & counselors gathered on Monteagle Mountain for a wonderful reunion. Sadly,less than a month later Coach Moore passed away. It was a blessing that so many of us were able to come together and share our camping experiences with Coach, his wife Novella, and their grown daughters!

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    1. I attended the camp in 1953. It was a real treat and gave me a new viewpoint of the great outdoors.

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  2. This is great! I attended camp there for several years in a row (probably around 80-84). I can still here Coach Moore's wife over the loudspeaker saying in her slow drawl pronouncing Moore as two syllables> "Horace Moore....Horace Moore....Please report to the Moore Cabin...Horace Moore."

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  3. I attended the camp in 1953-5.. Had a fine time and enjoyed canoeing & riding.

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  4. I WENT TO CAMP MOUNTAIN LAKE DURING THE SUMMER OF 1952. THE CAMPERS WERE DIVIDED INTO GROUPS BY AGE. I WAS 10 1/2 AND WAS A "GAMECOCK." THE SESSION I ATTENDED WAS FOR 5 WEEKS. AT THE END OF THE SESSION, PARENTS CAME DOWN FOR A CLOSING CEREMONY. I WAS AWARDED A MEDAL AS "BEST ALL-AROUND GAMECOCK." LATER IN THE SUMMER, NOW HOME, I WAS IN A GROUP PLAYING "RED ROVER." SOMEHOW MY MEDAL DISAPPEARED. IT WAS A CRUSHING LOSS. I SPENT HOURS CRAWLING AROUND THE FIELD IN THE DAYS AFTERWARD BUT NEVER FOUND MY PRIZED POSSESSION. I THINK THAT MAY HAVE BEEN THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE THAT I FELT TRUE GRIEF. ROB ROBERTRSON, M.D. PADUCAH, KY DRROB4LIFE@AOL.COM

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  5. ALSO, THE HEADMASTER ( OR SOME SUCH TITLE ) IN 1952 WAS COLONEL REYNOLDS. HE WAS THE ONE WHO CAME TO PADUCAH RECRUITING CAMPERS AND HE WAS IN CHARGE OF THE CAMP IN 1952. ROB ROBERTSON, M.D.

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  6. I went there in the 1970s. Coach Moore have an interesting speech on the first day about the demographic makeup of the kids. When I repeated it to my mom upon returning home, she decided that'd be the last year there.

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  7. CML will return! Stay tuned

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  8. The camp has sold to new owners and is off limits to the public. Here are videos which assisted in the sale of the property. http://marvinduke.com/camp-mountain-lake-visit.html

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  9. I was a camper there for 3 years in the early/mid-70's. Oh, how I wish I'd known of the Yahoo group . . Coach Moore's daughter, Beth, was one of my friends there and another daughter, LeeAnn, was one of our counselors! A small group of us came from Louisville, KY where John Thompson (the tennis instructor)taught gym at the school we attended. Each winter, Coach Moore would come visit (and recruit new campers) and we'd see a film from the summer before and get a new catalogue with our pictures from the previous year. The picture of Camp Mountain Lake with the pics of the Apaches & Cheyannes hung in the mess hall. 3-day trips, horseback riding, learning to waterski on Nickajack, Saturday nite dances, horse fly stew . . I've thought a million times about stopping to go see if it was still there! Will look for a facebook group, and, if I can't find one, I'll start one! Rocky Top you'll always be, home sweet home to me! Good ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top, Tennessee, Rocky Top, Tennessee! RIP Coach Moore and know you touched many young lives!! Brenda (Clotfelter) Simmons

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