When I was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, I went on an R&R trip with 3 of my Army friends. We headed over to Tennessee. Being single soldiers, we were meeting up with 4 girls in Nashville. Before the “partying”, we drove by Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, a place I wanted to check out. This notorious prison was once the home for the infamous James Earl Ray. James Earl Ray was the assassin of Martin Luther King. While James was doing his time at this prison, he escaped with 6 other inmates. His freedom was short lived, thank goodness. They captured him after 54 hours. In 1982, this prison was an active prison. I was only able to see the prison as I drove by it. I was very curious about the history of this prison. It was established in 1896 and in the 1930s, it housed 976 prisoners. Many of these prisoners were forced to work in the mines. The prisoners if they got out of line, were tortured via flogging. The prisoners were brutalized by the guards and many prisoners died at the hands of the guards. As a young soldier, I wondered how haunted this prison was. The prison closed on June 11, 2009.
For over a hundred years, Brushy Mountain was a functional prison. In fact, it was Tennessee’s first maximum security prison. In the 1800s, prisoners were forced to work in mines, violence at times erupted in the mines, where prisoners fought against other prisoners. These brutal fights would lead to serious injuries or death. A ghost hunting group called Amy’s Crypt did a full investigation of this prison and collected a lot of evidence. They discuss on their youtube channel on how some tourists have been choked and scratched by unseen entities. People have heard vicious growls coming from some of the cells and some visitors have even seen entities who crawl along the floor. This prison has two nicknames. The first nickname is “The End of the Line” and the second nickname is “The Gates of Hell”. Ghost hunting enthusiasts mention that an aerial view of the prison, you will see an inverted cross. They also mention that while investigating, they have heard men screaming, the sounds of flogging, gurgling sounds and of course the growling noises.
Brushy Mountain Prison is now shut down, but has opened its gates to tourists and ghost hunting enthusiasts. You have prison tours, a distillery, gift shop, paranormal tours, concerts and other events. Duc Duong, a former soldier I used to work with lives in Tennessee and has been on their paranormal tour. Duc says that when he went on the tour, he broke away from the group and had a terrifying experience. Duc says that he was pushed by an unseen force and was face down on the ground. He felt slime all around him and looked at his hands, and it was covered in brown filth. The brown filth Duc says looked like human feces. Duc started screaming and Duc’s wife ran over to him, only to see Duc on the ground. Duc then noticed that there was nothing on his hands and he was simply on hard cement, there was no feces. Duc says somehow, he imagined the feces and for Duc this was a horrifying experience that he does not want to relive. When Duc explained this to me, I wonder if this was some type of paranormal event that was able to show Duc something that happened many years ago in this prison. Duc tells me that he has no desire to ever return to this prison and that this prison is truly the “Gates of Hell”.