Best Related Links
History of the Coke Ovens Park
In 1899, a coal mine was opened on Fredonia Mountain overlooking
Dunlap, Tennessee. For the next quarter century, the mining operations grew into an
industrial complex that contributed greatly to the thriving economy and evolving social
structure of a small town.
Constructed at the base of the mountain were a series of "beehive" ovens,
designed to turn coal into coke for use in the iron and steel foundries of nearby
Chattanooga. The first 24 ovens and the company store were built in 1902. Then, in 1906,
144 ovens and a steam powered coal washer were constructed. In 1916 a new railroad up
Little Brush Creek created the demand for more coke production. Along with a one million
dollar coal washer, 100 more beehive coke ovens were built on the east end of the site.
These last ovens and the coal washer were used very little due to the company filing for
bankruptcy in the mid 1920's. A total of 268 stone ovens had been built when, in 1927, the
mining operations were shut down due to failing coal prices and the onset of the
The coke ovens lay dormant for more than 50 years, exposed to the ravages of nature,
garbage dumpers and rock thieves who dismantled stone from the ovens. In the mid 1980's
local citizens formed a historical group and began efforts to clear away the debris; soon
a historical Today the ruins of the once thriving complex cover most of the 62-acre park.
The property was donated, for preservation, to the Historical Association by Bowater
Southern Paper Company. The sandstone and brick walls of the ovens still stand much as
they looked when masons built them. Excavation work continues to uncover more of the
ovens. The park has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is
maintained by the Coke Ovens Museum Association and The Sequatchie Valley Historical
What to learn more? Try these topics.
The Tennessee Coal Fields
The Boom Years in Dunlap
The Company Town
Preserving Our History
Reconstructing Our History