Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Day Trip to Rugby, TN

After our recent successful trip to Chattanooga, we decided we would venture out again and make a day trip to Rugby TN, located on the Cumberland Plateau about a 2½ drive northwest from home.  But rather than go straight there, we made a few stops along the way beginning with Frozen HeadState Park near Wartburg, TN.

It’s seemed to be mostly a park for hikers (many trails) and other day visitors as it had lots of picnic tables but just a small campground.  Cindy wanted to make the stop and is looking forward to returning with her hiking friends.

On the way to the park, we drove past the maximum security Morgan County Correctional Facility (state prison) and I was impressed with the fencing.

When expanded in 2009, this facility allowed for the nearby 117 year old Brushy Mountain State Prison to be closed.  Since we were so close, we drove over to see it as well.

After housing some of Tennessee’s more notorious felons (such as James Earl Ray) it is now a tourist attraction but we didn’t go in.

We drove US-27 from Harriman north until we turned west and as expected, it was a curvy mountain road thru some very pretty country.  From Brushy MTN, we drove thru downtown Wartburg (just to see what was there) then on to Rugby. 

Per Wikipedia “Rugby is an unincorporated community in Morgan and Scott counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee. Founded in 1880 by English author Thomas Hughes, Rugby was built as an experimental utopian colony.”  The buildings range from original, to restored, to brand new and in addition to homes, there are churches, a school, a B&B, a printer, and some shops, all built in the same style.  

We began at the Visitors Center and school then moved on to the three open shops.

The Episcopal Church (original bldg) is across the road from the school.

Here are a few shots of the homes and all appeared to be occupied.

This is a B&B.

In addition to the original town, there are two new residential areas with new homes built to look like the originals.

Our last stop was the printer where they turned out 1000 papers a week in the 1800’s and the current printer was very knowledgeable about the history of the facility.  For example, uppercase letters are so called because the type letters came from the storage case located on top and lower case came from the case below it.  These are the two presses for larger and smaller jobs.

The one big negative for the town was that their café burned a few weeks ago which will curtail the number of visitors - it was too sad to take a pic.  We had planned to eat there but instead opted for the highly recommended R.M. Brooks Cafe about a mile down the road.

This place was fantastic, having been in continuous operation since since the early 1930's and is now owned by a fifth generation family member.  She does the cooking and one other woman takes your order at the counter then delivers the food to your table - so two total folks run the place.  This is the inside of the main and back rooms.

Nearly everything is scratch made and the food was delicious and the prices were ridiculously low.  Bev and Pat each had a burger, Cindy had a warmed turkey sandwich and the three of them split two real-deal milkshakes.

I had a fried bologna sandwich with everything and it was the best I ever had.

So in total, we had, three soft drink, a chocolate milk, two milk shakes, two potato salads, and four sandwiches for a whopping $23 – It’s almost worth the drive to eat there.  A definite stop if ever again in the area.

From there we drove thru Jamestown (just to see it) then headed south on a much straighter US-127 but stopped off at Highland Manor Winery but it was a major disappointment to me.  Years ago we drove up there once a year to buy their delicious Muscadine Wine – you had to be on the list to buy your one case.

I know taste buds change, but this was not even close to what we used to buy and we didn’t even buy one bottle of it.  We did buy a couple bottles of other wine and some hard cider, but no need to stop there again.

It was a very enjoyable nine-hour day getting to see some unique places, meeting some nice people, and eating some very good food.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them and the blue words are links.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


9/18/20 meal date


  1. Larry, Dang! You are out there doing what we'd love to be doing... Been to Rugby and enjoyed it. R.M. Brooks General Store beats the food in Rugby for sure although it is a shame that their restaurant burned down. Love a good bologna sandwich! The print shop reminded me of when I set type for my grandfather and uncle up in Michigan when I was a teenager. R.M. Brooks and Brushy Mountain are on our local road trip list! Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  2. What a fun day!!! It's too bad the town's café burned down but so cool that you ended up at such a fun & tasty little restaurant. The food looks tasty & I can't believe the price for so much grub.

  3. That is such a nice area. We can't find lunch for the 2 of us for under $30 out west.


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