October 26 and 27, 2001

In 1891, the residents of Coal Creek were threatened with losing their homes and jobs by the convict lease system. Southern states, including Tennessee, used this system to generate revenue by leasing their convicts to private enterprises like plantations, railroads, and coal mines. The free miners of Coal Creek banded together with their neighbors to fight the use of convict labor in the coal mines of Anderson County, TN. According to the program, Chain Gangs on the HISTORY CHANNEL, "the free miners of Coal Creek were instrumental in abolishing the convict lease system in the South, an institution that was worse than slavery".

Coal Creek miners during a
community meeting in October 1891
to plan their strategy for ending
the convict lease system


Coal Creek volunteers after a workday
to clean the Briceville People's Clinic
(right), paint an historic church (upper left), clean-up trash dumps,
and post historic markers along the
Coal Creek Motor Discovery Trail
in April 2001

Like their ancestors, the current residents of Coal Creek are again banding together. This time, their mission is to improve the health of the Coal Creek watershed. Projects are underway to get the Briceville People’s Clinic re-opened, address flooding problems, improve education, and abate acid mine drainage from abandoned mine lands.



Volunteer doctors, dentists, nurses, and medical personnel will provide free exams to students at Briceville Elementary School on October 26, 2001 and to children and adults from the Coal Creek watershed at the Briceville People’s Clinic on October 27, 2001. Students will perform water quality testing and aquatic insect surveys to monitor the health of Coal Creek. Adult volunteers will remove deadwood and debris from bridge piers and revegetate eroded streambanks to reduce future flood damage.



Briceville Elementary School students
removing trash from an historic
cemetery.  In 1999, these students
won a Title I Distinguished School
Award, one of only 88 schools nationwide to win such an award.
In 2001, the Tennessee General Assembly issued a Resolution, recognizing their efforts
to preserve local history

Events will begin at 8:00 am and end at 2:00 pm.  Briceville is located 4 miles southwest of Lake City, Tennessee on State Highway 116.

These events are part of USA WEEKEND magazine’s "Make a Difference Day", held in partnership with the Points of Light Foundation and actor-philanthropist Paul Newman’s food company, Newman’s Own.  Mr. Newman donates $100,000 to recognize groups that participate in this national event. Volunteer work in Coal Creek will also serve as in-kind service to match federal grants supporting our various projects.

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