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Rocky Top, Tennessee: The Miner's Circle - Mine Explosion Graves

Headstones set in concentric circles of the 184 who died on May 19, 1902, in the fifth worst mining disaster in U.S. history. "Killed every adult male in the town but three."

Leach Cemetery

1030 New Clear Branch Rd, Rocky Top, TN
I-75 exit 128 toward Lake City. Turn left (south) onto Main St./US Hwy 25W. Drive through town, for two miles, then turn left onto New Clear Branch Rd. Drive a quarter-mile, then turn left at the Clear Branch Baptist Church. Drive around the church and into Leach Cemetery at the top of the hill; the Circle will be ahead, on the left.
Gated after hours. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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Visitor Tips and News About The Miner's Circle - Mine Explosion Graves

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The Miner's Circle - Mine Explosion Graves.

The Miner's Circle - Mine Explosion Graves

Plenty of parking beside and behind the church.

[Dot Evans, 10/06/2023]
The Miner's Circle - Mine Explosion Graves

My wife and I stopped there with working phones. When we got back into our car, my phone was so locked up it wouldn't even turn off. My wife's phone apps were messed up. Strange thing, but not spooky in any way. I think that so few people seem to visit that the miners were just letting us know they were still there. Unlike many monuments to tragedy, the simplicity of these stones tells the story well.

[Michael D. Bremseth, 11/17/2020]

A smart phone is the modern equivalent of a miner's canary. Frozen screen, no service, apps shaking uncontrollably? GET OUTTTTTTTT

Miners Circle.

The Miner's Circle - Mine Explosion Graves

Very interesting place. Sad at the same time. [Jami Guess, 05/21/2013]

Circle of graves.

The Miner's Circle

Worth seeing, yet sad. All those men killed, leaving all their wives and if times weren't hard enough back in 1902.

[Tony Lehrman, 07/07/2012]

Miners' graves.

The Miner's Circle - Mine Explosion Graves

The Miner's Circle is a memorial found in Leach Cemetery behind Clear Branch Baptist Church. It is a large monument encircled by smaller gravestones belonging to 184 of the 214 miners who died on May 19, 1902 in the 5th worst mining accident in American history.

At 7:30 AM that morning, an oil lamp sparked a methane explosion which killed every adult male in the town but three. The story is not well known, but is nevertheless quite compelling. The shrine is absolutely fascinating.

[Pete Wade, 12/03/2006]

The bodies of the 30 unidentified miners were buried in a mass grave, just down the road from the mine, marked with a historical plaque on Slatestone Road in Briceville.

Nearby Offbeat Places

Museum of AppalachiaMuseum of Appalachia, Clinton, TN - 4 mi.
Clinton Twelve StatuesClinton Twelve Statues, Clinton, TN - 7 mi.
Big Green DragonBig Green Dragon, Caryville, TN - 7 mi.
In the region:
Large Basketball Atop Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, Knoxville, TN - 21 mi.

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