Preserving our past for our future

An archive of pictures, documents, and stories relating to Bays Mountain Park in Kingsport, Tennessee

Favorite Stories...

How Bays Mountain got its name

Early settlers on the mountain

That time that Ruby Nelms fell off the mountain!

How Hugh Hamblen lived to regret teaching his wife to read and write

Why 14-yr-old John Fincher had to return from Chattanooga alone

Life as a 1953 Fire Tower Lookout on Bays Mountain

Odell Harbour Depew, schoolteacher on Bays Mountain in 1915

Moonshine Stills, including a 1966 series of newspaper articles

Building the Dam

Please Donate to BMPA History!

To support this site and other Bays Mountain history-related Features & Programs, please Donate to the BMPA History Committee. All proceeds go towards finding, documenting, and sharing Bays Mountain history!

Recent Updates

Spring 2024 – The History Committee has been busy this past winter exploring, clearing, and documenting old homesites in Front Hollow. If you hike/bike out there you might see 4 sites that were recently cleared, including an earthen dam at the Ledbetter site. Click here to see what they’ve identified!

Sep 2023 – After discovering a 1978 audio cassette interview with John and Ollie Quillen, MANY new facts and stories have been learned and documented!

  • The dam cracked and leaked after the first year of construction, requiring the columns/steps (“braces”) to be added in the second year
  • The spillway has an odd rock that isn’t aligned with the others. Can you find it? John Quillen told us who did it and why there’s a $100 bounty on that rock!
  • About 1 week after the dam was finished and water was filling the reservoir, someone secretly opened the valve, letting the water back out. Who? Why? (Hint: they had a very good/honorable reason!)

    Come to our history talks to hear these new stories and more!

Feb 2023

Added an 11-part series of newspaper articles on moonshine from Nov 1966

The BMPA History Committee and park staff have:

  • Cleaned up an old homesite with two foundations on Lake Road near Ledbetter Gap
  • Established a moonshine still exhibit on Chinquapin Trail
  • Installed a history panel at the Bays Mountain Schoolhouse site

Oct/Nov 2022

  • BMPA History Committee members have discovered 3 old moonshine still sites on Bays Mountain and are working with park staff to feature the still on Chinquapin Trail