Cumberland Mountain State Park is a 1720 acre parcel of land located near Crossville, Tennessee. A site full of history it was deeded to the state of Tennessee in 1938. Prior to its existence as a state park, Cumberland Mountain was part of the New Deal Cumberland Homesteads Project. This project relocated families barely getting by and living below the poverty level into homes built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration on the Cumberland Plateau. Of additional historical note, Alvin York, a decorated World War I hero, served as the park superintendent until Hollywood made a movie about his life in 1940. The Homestead Museum is located just outside the park gates and shows what Homestead Community life looked like during those difficult times.
Inside the park one of the most popular attractions is Byrd Lake. This is a man-made lake constructed by building a mason works dam across Byrd Creek. From May to October visitors can rent paddle boats, canoes, and row boats. With appropriate fishing permits, guests can fish from some shorelines or rent fishing boats complete with electric trolling motors. Bluegill, bream and bass compete with catfish as the most popular catches of the day.
For those unsure about their ability to catch and clean their own dinners, the park restaurant serves up a wide variety of food famous among the locals. The pork and chicken are available daily, while their catfish recipe is a Friday specialty. A seafood buffet, salad bar and homemade desserts round out a diverse menu popular with all ages. Guests can enjoy a break from rustic surroundings by checking the internet using the restaurant’s free Wi-Fi between courses.
Cumberland Mountain State Park offers a wide variety of accommodations. Those with their own recreational vehicles can choose one of the many modern sites that are equipped with water and electrical hook ups. Cabins that sleep four, six or ten people are filled with amenities such as linens, full kitchens and cable television. The larger cabins have fireplaces and the park will provide firewood from October to April. Each cabin comes with its own parking place and an outdoor grill. The park has tennis, basketball and volleyball courts or places to play horseshoes and softball. A pool is open during the summer or guests can golf at an 18-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.
Businesses and corporations will find Cumberland Mountain State Park has facilities for retreats and conferences. The Mill House Cabin sleeps up to 16 people, and the conference center has multiple rooms that seat 100 to 150 guests. Presenters have their choice of technology from overhead projectors and flip charts to internet connections. Four picnic pavilions or the restaurant upstairs from the conference rooms provide options for working lunches or well-deserved breaks.
Some guests are trying to escape from the technological trappings of modern life. For these outdoors men and women, there are a number of more traditional tent campsites. Each site comes equipped with a grill and picnic table. Up to seven people may stay at each site, but reservations are not accepted so larger groups should plan to arrive together to seek out adjacent sites. Bath houses are located within walking distance so even the hardiest souls can clean up. Showers are included in the camping fees, while hikers and swimmers will have to pay extra to take advantage of the facilities.
Cumberland Mountain State Park has a number of moderate hiking trails. These trails wind their way through the surrounding forests and follow the meandering creek. One trail allows visitors to cross the mason works damn and see first-hand the effort that went into its making. Another trail allows guests to hike in and stay overnight. It is an unusual opportunity to experience life as the Tennessee frontiersmen did over two hundred years ago.
From its history aiding poverty-stricken settlers to its modern fishing village feel, Cumberland Mountain State Park has changed over time to meet the needs of every person who comes to it. Homesteaders looking for a new start, corporations looking for an inspiring conference center, outdoor enthusiasts looking to revel in nature all have a place on the Cumberland Plateau.