Today, Briceville, Tennessee, appears tranquil, but it played a pivotal role in the Coal Mine Wars of 1891-92.
Today, Briceville, Tennessee, appears tranquil, but it played a pivotal role in the Coal Mine Wars of 1891-92. This labor conflict arose from local miners’ resistance to Tennessee’s policy of leasing convicts to businesses, a practice they opposed.
In the 1890s, Briceville experienced rapid growth due to soaring demand for its coal, becoming the largest community in the county by the 1910s. A notable landmark in the town is the Briceville Community Church, a non-denominational church built in 1887 by Welsh immigrants. This significant structure is perched on a hill, offering a commanding view of the community.
Briceville once hosted the Briceville Air Force Base, a radar station located atop Cross Mountain. Established to provide early warning for Oak Ridge, the base was operational for a brief period from 1951 to 1960 before it was deemed obsolete.
As of 1991, the Briceville region still had 21 coal seams, but only eight were economically viable for exploitation by S&H and Premium Coal companies. However, by 2014, all the mines had shut down due to diminishing demand for the area’s high-sulfur coal. Today, Briceville is a mere shadow of its past, its quiet presence contrasted by the bustling activity of Interstate 75 to the east.