Information from WYSH Radio
On Tuesday, Morgan County voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of turning the former Brushy Mountain Penitentiary into a moonshine distillery and tourist attraction. The measure passed with 2,431 votes to 1,150 votes against.
Chattanooga-based Brushy Mountain Group is leading the effort to build the distillery, which could bring more than 100 new jobs to Morgan County. In addition to producing moonshine at the former prison, the company also intends to open a gift shop, a museum, and horse trails on the property, and would also like to offer tours of the historic prison to the public.
The former Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex is located about 18 northwest of Oak Ridge in Petros. The maximum-security prison first opened in 1896 and closed in June 2009. At 113 years old, it was the oldest operating prison in Tennessee. Its most infamous inmate was James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In order to open the distillery there, Morgan County voters had to approve allowing the “manufacture of intoxicating liquors and drinks in Morgan County.” The project has drawn criticism from many local churches while supporters say the proposal could be a boon to the local economy.
While liquor sales are currently prohibited in Morgan County, state law will allow visitors to purchase up to five gallons of alcohol, which is similar to what is permissible at the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg, also located in a dry county. Work on the distillery is expected to begin sometime next year.
See this Web page for more information on Brushy Mountain.
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