Nashville, TN

Most People Have Forgotten About this Abandoned Tennessee Town

Travel Maven

If you're a native of the Nashville area, you may already be familiar with the unfortunate tale surrounding the long-lost town of Old Jefferson.

You may have also frequented Percy Priest Lake, a scenic reservoir known for its abundance of recreational activities, but have you ever wondered about the tragic history surrounding it?
Photo byKayla Brown/Unsplash

It all began in 1803 when the town of Old Jefferson was incorporated into Rutherford County. This thriving community sat along a river and at its peak contained dozens of family homes and a Main Street dotted with businesses.
Photo byRutherfordTNHistory/Unsplash

Over 100 years later in the mid-1900s, plans for the reservoir were approved. Construction began in the year 1963.

It took over 4 years to build the dam, and in the meantime, residents of Old Jefferson were told that their town would be submerged underwater when it was complete. Houses were burned to the ground and families were forced to relocate.
Photo byRutherfordTNHistory/Unsplash

As the lake began to fill with water construction workers learned they had made a grave mistake. There were unseen caves located beneath the land taking in extra water which meant the lake did not extend as far south as they initially intended. They soon realized, Old Jefferson wasn't going to flood at all but it was too late–the town had already been destroyed.

It is rumored you can still find the old foundations of houses and businesses in Old Jefferson when you visit the area but not many make the trip. Mostly because there's not much to see, just an eerie emptiness of what was once a thriving community.

Were you familiar with the tragic story behind this long-lost town? Let us know in the comments.

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