A Day Away By Mike Steely
My fascination with ghost towns goes back to my childhood and growing up along the Tennessee and Kentucky border where there were many abandoned coal mining towns. I remember visiting places like Morley, Pruden and Habersham shortly after deep mining ended and families left for better jobs up north. Those empty coal miner houses, the abandoned depots and the empty and deteriorating company schools and stores stood crumbling like ghosts of the past.
My wife and I often take side trips on our way here and there and many of those driving adventures involve visiting ghost towns. You can visit these places and each is a good place to research, educate children on our history, or just roam through the remains.
Located between Knoxville and Greeneville and south of Rogersville, Bulls Gap is a living town but its downtown, starting at the town hall and Archie Campbell museum, has several abandoned buildings including a historic old hotel. The railroad cuts through the downtown and the remains of the old water tanks used to refresh steam engines stand there. The hotel hosted railroad travelers and the little town boomed before and after the Civil War.
There’s a small community in southern Campbell County today known as Grantsboro but it’s only a relocation of some families from the original Grantsborough, which sat at the junction of the Clinch and Powell rivers. Once a thriving ferry town, Grantsborough was deserted with the building of Norris Dam. At low water, you can find the foundations of some buildings by walking along the shore. You’ll have to take a boat or take the long drive north of Knoxville on Maynardville Highway all the way to Sharps Chapel and turn west, driving all the way to the end of the Chuck-Swan peninsula.
Founded in 1803 the town boomed with river traffic but began to fade after a bridge was built over the Powell River, making the ferry obsolete.