Tennessee Mountain Stories

Loafing Locales

Men Loafing, Crossville, Tennessee 1937  Photo from: http://photogrammar.yale.edu/records/index.php?record=fsa1997017027/PP

Men Loafing, Crossville, Tennessee 1937

Photo from: http://photogrammar.yale.edu/records/index.php?record=fsa1997017027/PP

After last week’s article about General Stores one Facebook friend pointed out that the Peter’s Store in Clarkrange was a longtime home of the post office and it got me to thinking about the places people hang out. 

A couple of years ago I found a list of the post office location in Tennessee and shared them here.  That article mentioned only in passing that the post office was often part of some other business, generally the country store.  How convenient to be able to make one stop and do all of your business – oh wait, our mega-stores these days keep trying to do that, don’t they?  But unlike the stores we bustle through today, yesterday’s country store and post office were leisurely businesses.  I guess if you had to walk, ride a mule or drive a wagon to get there you weren’t in too big of a hurry to rush off. 

We all know (and we often mention) that folks used to visit a whole lot more than we do these days.  Stores had front porches – or barrels sitting around a pot-bellied stove – so you could ‘sit a spell’ and greet your neighbor, catch up on the local news and generally be a part of the a community. 

It wasn't hard for the photographer to capture some men loafing in Crossville in 1937 - here's a second shot.  http://photogrammar.yale.edu/records/index.php?record=fsa1997017035/PP

It wasn't hard for the photographer to capture some men loafing in Crossville in 1937 - here's a second shot.


My Daddy tells about going to Wash Livesay’s store in Campground in his Grandpa Stepp’s wagon.  The story is about the team of horses but it’s set on the front porch.  While Grandma went in to do her business at the store, grandpa and grandson passed the time with their neighbors.  He also tells about that same grandpa having business to attend to in Jamestown – he’d really hurry to get the business out of the way so he could head to the courthouse steps and join the loafers there.  Daddy laments – and I completely agree – how he’d love to sit among those old men and just listen.  Can you even imagine what we might learn?  Talk about history!



Isoline Campbell namesake of Isoline, Tennessee

Isoline Campbell

Isoline Campbell

I am really excited about today’s article because the source is YOU – one of my readers.  Thank you Dee for sending me the information you found about R.O. Campbell and his daughter Isoline. 

Just as an aside, Dee’s email was particularly exciting because my vision for this blog would be a conversation among readers in the comments of the stories.  I have a little bit of information and knowledge – ya’ll have tons of it!  The trick is for us to all share it, and that’s how we can preserve this precious oral history.

Richard Orme Campbell was a wealthy Atlanta business man who started the Campbell Coal Company in 1884 (according to http://tomitronics.com/old_buildings/aunt%20fanny/index.html#isoline).  He built the business into the south’s largest coal company with mines in Tennessee and Kentucky.  We know that one of those mines was in North Cumberlad County. 

Orme’s oldest child was named Isoline, and the mine and surrounding community was surely named in her honor. It is interesting to note that Orme, Tennessee had already been established in Marion County, Tennessee where a mine had been established in 1892 and Mr. Campbell purchased it in 1902.

I never thought about the origin of the name Isoline but when I read it as a lady’s Christian name it was certainly new to me.  Turns out, the name is French in origin; an 1888 play portrayed a Princess Isoline.  The Orme family (R.O. Campbell’s maternal family) has some roots in France so Isoline may well have been the name of a beloved family member. 

Isoline Campbell grew up among Atlanta’s elite crowd and during her Grand Tour, she witnessed the German invasion of Brussels in 1914.  The experience changed her perspective on life, if not her very life. When she returned to Atlanta, she was more focused on service than society and she founded the Junior League of Atlanta.  This organization was purposed to, “[do] some good for the needy of Atlanta and [foster] among members interest in the community’s social, economic and educational conditions.”

One of the questions I posed last week was where the Cumberland Plateau Railroad was going when it ran from Isoline to Campbell Junction.  According to Duke’s Tennessee Coal Mining, Railroading, & Logging ({Paducah: Turner, 2003), Campbell built the Isoline spur line between 1900 and 1902.  The first trains arrived in Crossville in 1897 so the Tennessee Central line from Monterey to Crossville was already passing through the area that would become Campbell Junction.  So the Cumberland Plateau Railroad was connecting to that existing TC mainline.

Mr. Duke’s book also notes that Isoline had hotels, boarding houses, store and numerous businesses.  If any of you ever run upon any pictures of this booming Isoline, I’d love to see them for I had no idea it was anything like that thriving description.

There is no description of Campbell Junction and I’m still wondering whether that end of the spur line built up as much.  At least it had staying-power for there is still an operating post office at Campbell Junction and Isoline was long ago absorbed into Crossville’s postal community.

After 53 years in business, the Campbell Coal Company dissolved in 1962.  The mines at Isoline had played out by the mid-1920’s and the spur line tracks were pulled up in 1939.


UPDATE:  4/10/16

A reader graciously shared the following article from 1914 about Isoline Campbell - she and I thought you might enjoy it.