"A few gallons of whisky produced during the year - the farce which has been enacted in the federal courts - an illiterate crowd who are trying to make a living by breaking the law....And many of them, no doubt, never are detected. In their mountain homes, hidden away in almost inaccessible gorges, they may prosecute their illicit work for years, at odd spells, without ever being detected." Moonshine in Tennessee - article published in The New York Times, February 2, 1880 (http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9903E2DC1E31EE3ABC4A53DFB466838B699FDE&oref=slogin).
Heroes who fight tax collectors and moral crusaders, or just common criminals? Tennessee was built by rumrunners, moonshiners, and bootleggers. In the 1920s, Prohibition turned fishermen into rumrunners and two-bit gangsters into millionaires, and moonshine haulers in their souped-up cars helped create NASCAR. Several attractions in East Tennessee help weave the compelling tale of our nation's love-hate relationship with illegal alcohol.
Smoky Mountain Visitors Center in Cosby has a Moonshine Museum (4344 Cosby Highway, Cosby, TN 37222 Ph: 423-487-2800). Nestled in the outback of the Smokies, lies the eastern entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This land we know as Cosby was once the rich hunting grounds of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. It was called "Mountain Rest" by the many English settlers in the early 1700's. These pioneers combined thier knowledge of distillery with corn, their main crop, to create what is known as "Moonshine, White Lightnin', or Mountain Dew." Moonshiners, struggling to feed their families, built 'souped up' cars to outrun the law. After prohibition, much of their land became the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. "Runnin' liquor" declined, but not their love for fast cars. These were the early days of stockcar racing (www.aboutcosby.com) . Newport City Park will host a Moonshine Rod Run June 14-15, 2008.
See a 1940 Ford Coupe that was confiscated for running moonshine at Floyd Garrett's Muscle Car Museum (320 Winfield Dunn Parkway, Sevierville, TN 37876 Ph: 865-908-0882 www.musclecarmuseum.com). Experience a collection of muscle cars totaling over $9 million, including everything from Big Block Chevys and Mopars to Shelby Mustangs, rare engines and specialty cars.
See an old moonshine still when you revisit the "Moonshine" area of The Lost Sea Adventure (140 Lost Sea Road, Sweetwater, TN 37874 Ph: 423-337-6616 www.thelostsea.com) when "white lightning" was brewed inside the caverns. See colorful rock formations, a waterfall and even a cavern large enough to house a two-story building. Deep in the cave, take a guided boat trip across America's largest underground lake (almost three football fields long) for an adventure you'll always remember.
During the early twenties and until 1943, the caves at what is now known as Forbidden Caverns (455 Blowing Cave Road, Sevierville, TN 37876 Ph:865-453-5972 www.forbiddencavern.com) was an excellent location for making illegal moonshine. With the good water supply, bootleggers had available a well-hidden, isolated location which was ideal for the manufacture of their homemade whiskey. One of America's most spectacular caves, see sparkling formations, towering natural chimneys, numerous grottos and a crystal-clear stream. A rich history of ancient Indian dwellers with a legend telling of the fate of an Indian princess who was lost in a "hollow mountain of two streams...which was forbidden."