Enjoy Family Activities & Explore Cumberland Plateau
Visitors who plan to explore the little Victorian town of Rugby can find plenty of nearby fun activities on a vacation in Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau.
Rugby, Tennessee, a charming 1880s Victorian village, is a great destination for weekend getaways, but it can also be a starting point for exploring the Cumberland Plateau’s historic and recreational areas. Rugby has historical buildings, shopping, and a couple of great places to stay, but visitors to the area have a number of other options.
Big South Fork River and Recreation Area
The Big South Fork River and Recreation Area, 125,000 acres of river and forest on the Cumberland Plateau, offers a number of outdoor recreational activities, including camping, hiking, picnicking, trail riding, rafting, canoeing, and swimming. Two developed campgrounds, Bandy Creek Campground in Tennessee and Blue Heron Campground in Kentucky are open April through October.
Visitors can also explore the Blue Heron Mining Community, which supported a coal mining operation from the 1930s through the early 1960s. The town has been re-created as an outdoor museum in which buildings display exhibits of everyday items and photographs of life in the camp, as well as audio programs in which former residents tell their stories.
Big South Fork Scenic Railroad and Barthell Coal Mining Camp
Forty miles from Rugby lies Stearns, Kentucky, headquarters of the Big South Fork Scenic Railroad, and Barthell Coal Mining Camp trip. Visitors can take a 16-mile round trip on the Kentucky & Tennessee Railway; the trip enters the Daniel Boone National Forest and the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area. Beautiful and dramatic scenery greets the traveler as the trail descends 600 feet into the gorge. The railway stops at the Blue Heron Coal Mining Camp, and tickets for the train trip include admission to the McCreary County Museum in Stearns. Train rides are offered April through October, rain or shine, and take about three and a half hours.
Highland Manor Winery
About the same time that Rugby was being developed, German settlers in the nearby community of Allardt began to grow grapes and make wine. Highland Manor, Tennessee’s oldest winery, produces award-winning wines that visitors can sample and purchase. The winery offers a free cellar tour, and the gift shop sells specialty food products as well as wines.
Sergeant Alvin C. York Homeplace and State Historical Site
Alvin C. York, the most decorated soldier of World War I, returned home to Tennessee to run a farm, store, and grist mill in Pall Mall, 30 miles from Rugby. His fame was the result primarily of his legendary firefight against the German Army in the Argonne Forest of France. For his bravery during the war, he was awarded more than 40 Allied decorations, including the Congressional Medal of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre. The park features his home and farm, the church he helped to build, his general store and post office, and the grist mill he operated in the 1940s. He is buried a few miles away at the Wolf River Cemetery, and he is honored by a 10-foot statue on the grounds of the State Capitol in Nashville. His medals and trophies may be seen at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.
Colditz Cove State Natural Area
Colditz Cove, only nine miles from Rugby, is a 165-acre natural area featuring a spectacular waterfall dropping 60 feet to a scenic gorge along Big Branch Creek. Nearby, the town of Allardt is a picturesque German farming community, with several buildings listed on the National Register, and a 100-year-old church originally built for a German-speaking Lutheran congregation.
Stay in Rugby, Explore the Countryside
A weekend or short vacation in Rugby can be lots of fun, but visitors should plan to explore other nearby sites, too. Whether the vacationer is looking for outdoor activities, stunning scenery, or historical sites, the Cumberland Plateau is a great choice.