Visiting the Coal Creek Miners Museum in Rocky Top, Tennessee, offers an opportunity to step back in time and connect with the unwavering spirit and resilience of the miners who shaped the region's history. This museum isn't just a collection of artifacts; it's a living testament to the sacrifices, struggles, and triumphs of those who toiled beneath the earth's surface to fuel the growth of a nation.

Here are 5 things we recommend you check out to make the most out of your visit to the Coal Creek Miners Museum.

1.       During your visit to the museum you’ll learn the story of the mining disasters that took place in Fraterville Mine in 1902 and the Cross Mountain Mine in 1911, but make sure you stop in the back room at the museum to read handwritten letters from the miners to their loved ones written while trapped in a tunnel before it collapsed. The letters can be heart wrenching to read, but you'll gain a deeper understanding of the sacrifice’s miners made, the risks they faced, and the sense of purpose that fueled their dedication.

2.       Check out the museum’s exhibit that explains different types of coal.  You may not know this, but there are four major types of coal and the newest exhibit in the museum tells you about each type and shows examples of each. We think you’ll find it both educational and fascinating.

3.       Be sure to visit these three locations that are on the National Register of Historic Places and are also stops along the Coal Creek Motor Discovery Trail, which you’ll learn about during your visit to the Coal Creek Miners Museum. The first location is the Fraterville Miners’ Circle in Leach Cemetery. It’s home to eighty-nine of the 216 miners who perished in the Fraterville Mine Disaster of 1902. The miners are buried in concentric circles around an obelisk. The second location is Briceville United Methodist Church which was built in 1888 by Welsh Coal Miners and was placed on the Register of Historic Places in 2003. Its location and architecture make it one of the most beautiful churches in East Tennessee. Finally, the last location is Circle Cemetery, located in Briceville. The cemetery is home to thirty-one of the miners killed in the Cross Mountain Mine Disaster. These three sites provide a tangible connection to the past and serve as powerful reminders of the rich and challenging history of coal mining in East Tennessee.

4.       Make a stop at Fort Anderson on Militia Hill, also located on the Coal Creek Motor Discovery Trail. Free miners started the Coal Creek War in 1891 to abolish the convict labor system. The state militia was sent in to build Fort Anderson on Militia Hill to restore order. After numerous battles where convicts, guards and militia were captured and released, Governor Buck Buchanan sent in militia with heavy artillery and Gatling guns to end the conflict in 1892. It's a compelling piece of history and Militia Hill is well worth a visit.

5.       Tour the Devil's Triangle, a driving trail that takes you through the Cumberland Mountains and offers a 45-mile loop of sweeping curves and tight twists.  In addition to the natural beauty of the mountains, you’ll see the Windmill Farm located at Windrock Park, the largest privately-owned off-road park in the country. Brushy Mountain Prison is also located on the Devil’s Triangle which housed James Earl Ray, assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King, until his death in 1998. The prison now serves as a tourist attraction complete with a restaurant, distillery and tours.

Click here for a map of the Devil's Triangle.