By Mike Steely

Scattered here and there in central Appalachia are places that almost defy description. Odd, unusual places that seem totally out of place and just too weird to be where they are. Yet these unique places do, indeed, exist and are worth a trip just to see something so odd.


A man and his horse

Col. David Campbell, a namesake and cousin of the founder of Campbell’s Station, was an odd fellow who ended up living in the village of Washington just inside Rhea County.

Campbell was part-time Indian Agent and also a judge. He’s buried near his homestead in the Old Washington community.

His grave, at the site of his old home, contains his remains and those of his son-in-law but on the other side where you’d expect to find Campbell’s wife, is his horse. No kidding, that’s what old-timers said. The nearby historic marker makes no mention of the third burial.


Ebbing and Flowing

There are at least two Ebbing and Flowing Springs in our region, one in Southwest Virginia and one in East Tennessee. In Washington County, Va., the “Ebbing Springs” was said by earlier pioneers to be a beautiful little brook that flowed normally from beneath limestone, then stops. The spring place then was said to gurgle and the stream begins again as a gush of water that filled the channel of the spring. The strange, volcanic type of action was said to happen about every thirty minutes, according to Lewis Preston Summers in his “History of Southwest Virginia.”

A pioneer church was built near the spring but later removed to Glade Springs.

Near Rogersville in Hawkins County, Tn., is Ebbing and Flowing Springs, which empties into Big Creek near the historic Amis homestead.

Today the springs still ebbs and flows across the road and has followed the same routine for at least the past two hundred years. It recycles about every two and one-half hours, issuing 500 gallons per minute and the temperature is about 50 to 55 degrees.

The large farm and the property even had an old schoolhouse and they all went up for public auction in recent years, divided in tracts.


Old Fort Geyser

The Old Fort Geyser in North Carolina isn’t a real gusher but is fed by an old reservoir high above on the mountain and piped down the hill to become an artesian fountain.

Once the fountain, in a nearby location where a health-spa hotel sat, drew thousands of rich visitors who arrived by train from South and North Carolina piedmont plantations to summer or rest in the coolness of the mountains there.


The Blue Holes

Blue Hole, at the Great Council Spring of Red Clay, south of Cleveland, Tn., and just above the Georgia line, is a very strange and spiritual place. The water emerges in a pool from beneath the earth and all about the deep spring glows with a bright blue microscopic growth. If there were pools of liquid on planets like Mars or Mercury they might look like that.

Blue Spring is located at the head of Cripple Creek in Southwest Virginia.

Blue Hole Falls is on Little Fiery Gizzard Creek in the Grundy Forest State Park on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee.


River oddities

The Suck, a dangerous and powerful whirlpool in the Tennessee River just downstream from Chattanooga, once sank flatboats and drowned travelers. Nearby Chickamauga towns relied on The Suck to protect them from attack by whites upstream.

The dams created by TVA backed up the flow and swamped the mighty Suck, ending its feared dangers. Today the name applies to the area and an incoming stream from the north, but the feared whirlpool is only a historic footnote.


The Disappearing County

Genealogy “roots” researchers can go crazy trying to find anyone born in James County, Tn., because it doesn’t exist. It did, briefly, and Harrison (formerly Vann’s Town) was the county seat. James County, Harrison, and Vann’s Town are all gone, the county to the adjoining jurisdiction of Bradley, and the two old towns, combined as one, are beneath the waters of Chickamauga Lake.

James County began in 1871, named for Rev. Jesse James (no relation to you know who) and during its short history suffered two courthouse fires. It was dissolved in 1919.