It is no surprise that at one point the mountains in Tennessee felt the effects of strip mining. Jellico Mountain, which towers over Indian Mountain State Park was once the site of a strip mine. The state of Tennessee decided to reclaim this land see if they could make it a recreational area for the citizens of the state. Today it is one of the most beautiful of the state parks in East Tennessee. With plenty of activities and scenery galore, there is always something to do at Indian Mountain.
Jellico Mountains was transferred to the possession of the United States in the early 1880s from the Cherokee . At this same time a high quality form of coal was discovered on Jellico Mountain. This came to be known as Jellico coal. Mining operations commenced. Soon after, the railroad arrived and the strip mining of the area started. Campbell County became the highest producer of coal in Tennessee. By the 50s surface mining was the preferred method of mining, underground mining having been the best option before this point. At this time, Saxton Coal Company operated the mine that was located where Indian Mountain State Park is now. Jellico was left with a strip of land that was virtually unusable.
Or was it?
The city of Jellico began to ask the question: what can we do with this land? They worked with state and federal agencies and after they obtained the rights to the land, they started to make improvements. They took an almost completely denuded strip of land and have turned it into a recreational area that is second to none. They have turned what was once and eye sore into a place of beautiful scenery and outdoor activity for all the people of East Tennessee and the country to enjoy.
Today you can camp overnight in one of the 49 fully equipped campsites, you can hangout with your family and friends in one of the picnic pavilions, swim in the swimming pool or enjoy any of the hiking trails. The ponds that were transformed from pits in the days of the mining company into ponds that are stocked and have become truly great fishing areas. Stocked with bluegill, large-mouth bass, crappie and catfish. Indian Mountain State Park is a great place to come and hang out in the countryside, enjoying the sunshine and beauty or the natural surroundings in a place that has been brought back from the edge of nothingness.