Montgomery Bell State Park

For our latest trip to our beautiful state parks, we decided to venture west to Burns, TN. Montgomery Bell State Park is located seven miles east of Dickson in Dickson County. The rolling hills of Dickson County contain a treasure that was considered more precious than gold to the builders of young America. The treasure was iron ore, and it lured men by the hundreds to this area of Middle Tennessee. 

Named after the wealthy industrialist who established the first major iron furnace west of the Allegheny Mountains, Montgomery Bell State Park has an abundance of cultural history that includes the Laurel Furnace, one of the state’s earliest manufacturing sites.  In the early 1930’s three new deal agencies under the supervision of the National Park Service assisted in the construction of the park: the Public Works Administration (PWA), Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The park remained under the National Park Service jurisdiction until 1943, when the original tract of land was deeded to the Tennessee Department of Conservation. 

 The iron industry in Dickson County has been long silent, but the 3,782 acres that make up Montgomery Bell State Resort Park still show the signs of its presence. Near the remains of the Old Laurel Furnace, ore pits, where men once scratched iron ore from the earth, lie quiet and abandoned; the hardwood forest, once heavily cut to clear farmland and to produce charcoal for the iron furnaces, has slowly healed its wounds. Fox, squirrel, raccoon, opossum, deer and a wide variety of birds and wildflowers have returned to the forest, making Montgomery Bell a place of quiet natural beauty.

The park is also home of the “birthplace” of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church where dissident Presbyterian ministers met and held the first Synod of the new church. Services are held here every Sunday.

The Cumberland Presbyterian denomination was organized in Dickson County, TN on Feb. 4, 1810 at this location, which was the home of Samuel McAdow.

The Park offers approximately 20 miles of hiking trails. Trail lengths range from short 1/8-mile nature trails up to the overnight trail that is over 10 miles long. All trails are opened year round.

The campground was great and spacious. We had plenty of room, even with our long home away from home.

A nice babbling brook ran right behind our camper and made for a nice relaxed stay.

There were lots of wildflowers along the trails. I even found some new ones. I will cover those in future post. However, we also found an abundance of beautiful fungi this trip. I guess the wet summer really encouraged their growth. I am not good at identifying the different species, so I will just provide the pictures for your entertainment. Never eat any mushroom or fungus you find in the woods unless you contact an expert first. I AM NOT A FUNGUS EXPERT!

One of the first ones we saw looked like it came right out of the hobbit movie!

I think this is referred to as Turkey Tail Fungus.

Who knows! Very pretty though.

This one was way off the trail, but still very visible from afar. It is called Jack-O-Lantern (Omphalotus illudens/olearius) mushroom. It is quite poisonous!

Here is one that looks like reindeer antlers. I believe it is a Coral Fungus, maybe Ramaria stricta.

I believe this is called Chicken-of-the-Woods. When cooked it does taste like chicken. Or it could just be a death angle that will kill you just for looking at it!

This is a 65 year old mushroom. Believe me, I know just how it feels!

We did run across some of the other wildlife. It was almost dark and we caught this doe just after she crossed the road.

Sunset over the lake. We had a great time at one more example of Tennessee’s great state parks. Coming soon, we are planning our October trip to Land Between the Lakes. Should have some more great photos. Keep checking for the wildflower photos coming soon.

Happy Trails!

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