It might look peaceful today, but Briceville, Tennessee was central to the Coal Mine Wars of 1891-92.
It might look peaceful today, but Briceville, Tennessee was central to the Coal Mine Wars of 1891-92. It was a labor uprising stemming from local miners’ opposition to the state’s practice of leasing prisoners to businesses.
Briceville grew rapidly in the 1890s as the demand for its coal soared and it was the largest community in the county by the 1910s. The town’s most prominent structure, the non-denominational Briceville Community Church, was constructed by Welsh immigrants in 1887 on a hill overlooking the community.
Briceville was also home to Briceville Air Force Base, a former radar installation atop Cross Mountain. It was designed to provide an early warning system for Oak Ridge. It was only active for a few brief years between 1951 and 1960 before being declared obsolete.
By 1991, the Briceville area still boasted 21 coal seams although eight were economically viable by the S&H and Premium Coal companies. The last of the mines closed by 2014 as demand for its high-sulfur coal waned. The community is just a shell of its former self, overshadowed by the hustle and bustle of Interstate 75 to the east.