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Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex

1896-2009


Officially Closed June 11, 2009

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History

The Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex officially closed its doors to inmates in June 2009. The 113-year-old facility was the oldest operating prison in Tennessee.

Brushy, as it was commonly called, first opened in 1896 in Petros, Tennessee. It served as a reception center for East Tennessee and as a maximum-security prison. Former TDOC Commissioner George M. Little said the Brushy Mountain prison represented a remarkable chapter in the history of the Tennessee Department of Correction. The historical institution had been mentioned in numerous books, movies and songs. Its most infamous inmate was James Earl Ray; the convicted assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Generations of families worked at the prison. It had been the largest employer in Morgan County. The cost of maintaining the aging structure led to the decommissioning of Brushy Mountain, which had the capacity to house close to 600 male inmates. On June 4, 2009, the final inmates were transferred to the new, state of the art Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg,

Historical Photos

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1922 Sleeping Quarters

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1936

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1966