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Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary was not a spot often visited for just one day. This former maximum-security prison held dangerous criminals with sentences exceeding 200 years.

The penitentiary in Petros, Tennessee, about 40 miles west of Knoxville, has been closed since 2009, but last Saturday it opened to the public as a tourist attraction, giving outsiders access to this rustic lockup like never before.
 
Opened in 1896, Brushy Mountain has decades of history to explore, with a list of infamous inmates that included James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr. Visitors can learn about the penitentiary’s storied past during self-guided tours of 14 stations showing different aspects of life at the prison. Former prison guards are present to answer questions.
 
Visitors can also tour a museum housing artifacts such as old uniforms, homemade tattoo guns, and improvised weapons—then grab a bite at its cafeteria-style eatery, The Warden’s Table, where there's a prison-inspired menu with items like "Convict Chili" and "BBQ Nachos to Die For." 
 
Souvenirs include gift shop staples like shirts, hats, and even soap on a rope, but visitors can also buy Brushy Mountain’s own End of the Line Tennessee Moonshine. Distilled and bottled on the former prison grounds, the hooch comes in ten different flavors, including Apple Pie, Lemon Drop, and Butterscotch.
 
Brushy Mountain, which unlike in old times now opens its doors seven days a week, is at TourBrushy.com.


Tags: prison, museum, tours, tennessee, knoxville

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