Rugby, Tennessee Ghost Town

Tn 52, Rugby, Tennessee 37733 USA

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“A victorian social experiment turned ghost town”

As far as ghost towns go, Rugby is one of a kind. It was founded by Thomas Hughes, a Brit who came from a wealthy English family but, as the second son in a culture that still primogeniture, a system of inheritance where the eldest son in a family gets the land and the wealth, he was not in the best place to settle in England. He grew tired of the materialism of Victorian England, and on a trip to America to visit his friend, poet James Russell Lowell, he learned of the Board of Aid to Land Ownership, which was an organization that helped unemployed skilled laborers in cities find places in rural settlements. It wasn't long before Hughes and a group of friends bought up the land to settle Rugby, Tennessee, set among lush gorges, virgin forests, and fresh air-- vastly different from dirty urban London.

Rugby Colony had its "opening" in October of 1880. Families were recruited to join the settlement, and each had to invest $5 in the commissary to guarantee public ownership. All were guaranteed personal freedom, including religious freedom (even though the sale of alcohol was banned).

Despite the bucolic, "resort-like" setting, things were always bumpy in Rugby. Disputes over land titles began almost immediately, and economic development was slow. Even the establishment of a tomato canning factory couldn't save the lagging situation, as the colonists didn't grow enough tomatoes to sustain it. And, worst of all, an outbreak of typhoid fever killed off some of the most prominent citizens. Eventually, it was decided that the town's rich natural resources needed to be harvested to bring in money, which went against the anti-materialism principles on which the colony was founded. 

And of course, it's rumored to be very haunted...

"There are a number of homes in the town with ghosts, some more active than others and over the years eyewitnesses have reported encounters with them all. There is Kingston Lisle, Thomas Hughes’ sometime residence; there is Roslyn, a two story mansion with several spirits, including the wild carriage driver who thunders up to the front door in a black carriage. Then there is Twin Oaks, once home to a witch—and perhaps still is. Again, for more in depth accounts of Rugby’s many ghosts one is better off consulting the chapter in Strange Tales. Then after reading, you will be armed with enough knowledge to tackle Rugby for yourself. The living residents are friendly and helpful to visitors and the spectral residents are mostly harmless—even if the occasional encounter with them is a bit startling. By all means, if you visit Dixie in your travels, Rugby is worth the trip."

Even though the settlement didn't even last ten years, the abandoned buildings remained untouched. They've been preserved almost to perfection. The library still contains most of its original collection of 7,000 volumes, including a book from the 1600s. The church still has its original reed organ, and one of the other Victorian cottages has been decked out in period pieces.

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Rugby, Tennessee Ghost Town

Tn 52
Rugby, Tennessee
37733 USA

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  • Wheelchair Accessible
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