COAL CREEK MINING AND MFG. CO.
In 1872, The Coal Creek Mining and Mfg. Company purchased land near Briceville. The survey was done by Frank H. Bradley of Ogden Utah, on June 17, 1872. Some of the report is quoted here. “This company’s property consists of 40,000 acres of land lying between Coal Creek and Winters Gap in Anderson County, East Tennessee about 30 miles north of the city of Knoxville on the K and O Railroad. This property contains vast fields of bituminous coal and iron ore of superior quality.
From these lofty moutains pour down into the valley, the Clinch, the Holston, the Watauga, the Hiwassee, the Ocoee, and the Emory Rivers, besides smaller streams, all finally uniting and forming the beautiful Tennessee. The waters of these streams as they dash down from their moutain sources, are as clear as crystal and carry fertility into all the great valleys. The mean elevation of East Tennessee may be placed at nearly 1000 feet. Its summers are delightful. The heat is greatly tempered and modified by the high mountains which surround the valley, while in winter, the force of the winds from the west and north is broken and expended against the Cumberland Moutains. For these reasons the summers are cool and winters mild and pleasant. Snow seldom falls, and ice rarely exceeds three to four inches in thickness. Swamp and Stagnant water, so common in the west and further south, are almost unknown here. For this reason noxious inhalations are absolutely unknown here. To those suffering from the effects of long and cold winters in the northern states, no section promises surer relief. Asthma and cararrh are almost unknown,. and numerous cases have been virtually cured after a short residence here. No process of acclimation is necessary here, where the emigrant comes from Maine, Pennsylvania, France or Norway. From the first he inhales pure mountain air, and is exempt from disease as our native moutaineer. The mean temperature during the entire year is about 60 degrees, ranging from 14 degrees in the winter to 92 in summer. In all the elements that constitute a health-giving and pleasant climate we challenge comparison with any other section of the United States. The forest, which covers far a larger portion of the property, will yield immense quantities of magnificent timer. Huge oaks, hickories, and poplars stand thickly along the slopes, together with considerable maple, walnut, cherry and gum. This has never been culled, only enough having been cut to supply the limited demand of the small farms opened here and there within the tract. Like all the adjacent mountain lands, while the abundant “mast” would fatten thousands of hogs annually. The officers of the Coal Creek Mining and Manufacturing Company at that time were William S. McEwen, President Edmund Wiley, Secretary and Charles A. Bulkley, Treasurer.
The land described above was only part of the land acquired by the Coal Creek Mining and Mfg. Co. The company now owns 70,000 acres in Anderson and surrounding counties. B. Rule Stout, who taught school in Anderson County before the turn of the century, was employed by the company in 1914. Among other positions he served as General Manager, and also secretary-treasurer, and a Director for many years. He retired from the company in February 1965 and died on January 28, 1973.
The company has always been involved in community affairs of the area, donation and selling land for churches (Briceville Methodist Church) schools and cemeteries. There has also never been any clearcutting of trees on their property. Fred Wyatt is Executive Vice President at the present time, with offices in the Plaza Tower in Knoxville. Fred has encouraged me in the writing of this book and has shared his knowledge and information willingly.
William S. McEwen and Edmond Wiley were not only land owners but dreamed of a bright future for the area. Coal Creek had not yet developed and they envisioned a town springing up near the “WYE” or Briceville Junction. The set aside 50 acres of land called “The Neutral Ground” to be used to start a new town called McEwensville. The tract, laying along both sides of Weldons Fork of Coal Creek, (which runs into Beech Grove), was previously owned by an early pioneer, John Reynold. In 1881, Gustave Murmann, a civil engineer, resurveyed the tract. Some of the names on the sold lots were, Richard Chapman, later owned by Joe Andrews widow, T. Hale, T.J. Thomas, Abner Brooks, Mrs. Thomas Watts, David Thomas, and Joseph Richards. A lot was sold to the colored M. E. Church with the stipulation that if a church ceased to exist there the land would revert back to Coal Creek Mining. There were 90 lots. The town of Coal Creek built up around the depot and developed faster than McEwensville.
McEwen and Wiley were active in mining operations for a few years then devoted their time to leasing to mining companies. Wiley Coal Co. was active from July 1881 to March 13, 1909.