Tennessee Mountain Stories

Roadside Stands and a Stage Coach Ride

Crab Orchard Inn

Crab Orchard Inn

In this on-going study of Appalachian English, there’s a term that we on the mountain use regularly but I never questioned its meaning.  If you told me to turn right at the roadside stand, I think I would have been looking for a little place that sold vegetables or some such.  We have always referred to the junction of Highway 62 and Campground Road as The Bledsoe Stand.  There was never any kind of business or building there in my lifetime so that landmark didn’t help my understanding at all.

Perhaps I’m the only one that didn’t know a Stand is an inn, an old-time hotel or bed and breakfast of sorts. (By the way, I often wonder if I’m the only one that didn’t know these things yet I keep confessing my ignorance to all of you!)

Roadside stands were large homes that were opened to travelers much the way bed and breakfasts operate today.  The patrons dined with their guests and the inn was staffed by the family, with perhaps one or two slaves to assist them.  Most of these homes had large, upstairs lofts without partitions where guests slept.  Sometimes the guests had to bring their own pallet bedding and were simply given a space on the floor. The Officer Stand in Monterey charged eight cents per night for this type of lodging and another twenty-five cents got you a country breakfast the next morning.

These folks didn’t seem to be inn-keepers by trade.  Instead, they were frontiersmen and farmers who surely had a lot of hard work on their agenda each day.  There were no reservations and no idea who would be at your supper table from one evening to the next.

The Inn at Crab Orchard is purported to be the first to be built in Indian territory in 1804 when the Cherokee granted four men permission to build stands inside their hunting lands.  The building was 40 by 25 feet and constructed of hewn logs with doors built strong enough to endure an Indian hurdling himself at it.  Settlers living near the stand provided produce and game to feed the travelers so that the business supported several families.  The Sidnor Stand at Crab Orchard stood from 1804 to 1820 when it was replaced by a larger stand built by Dawson & Beaty.  Then in 1827, Robert K. Burke built a large brick inn on the same site.

Johnson Stand

Johnson Stand

John Roy Dillard published Standing Stone, Tenn. Monterey Early History in 1989 (Harris Press, Nashville) and includes a very fascinating account of what a stagecoach trip from Knoxville to Monterey might have been like in 1816.  At the time, there were about 25 of these stands along this route which would roughly follow today’s highway 70 passing through Campbell’s Station, Southwest Point (present-day Kingston), Post Oak Springs, Crab Orchard, Renfro Hollow, Drowning Creek, Mayland and finally arriving at Standing Stone or present-day Monterey.

The story is set when there was still significant unrest among the Native Americans in area and he actually depicts an brief and tense encounter which is mitigated by a wise stage driver who barters gunpowder and tobacco for safe passage of his over-crowded coach.

The 100 mile trip takes five days, and requires passengers to walk down hills as well as assist in felling a tree to use as a brake for the heavy vehicle.