Fraterville Miners' Circle in Lake City, Tennessee
placed on the National Register of Historic Places

January 2005

A dedication ceremony at Fraterville Miners' Circle in recognition of it being
placed on the National Register of Historic Places will be held on
Thursday, May 19, 2005, the 103rd anniversary of the Fraterville Mine Explosion. 

The Coal Creek Watershed Foundation (CCWF) is honored to announce that the Fraterville Miners’ Circle in Leach Cemetery has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

On May 19, 1902, the Fraterville Mine exploded, trapping all its miners underground.  Some died instantly, while others lived up to seven hours before suffocating.  Ten left poignant farewell messages and there were no survivors. 

Newspapers in 1902 reported that as many as 216 bodies were recovered from the mine, but only 184 were identified.  Itinerant miners killed in the explosion were not included in the official listing of fatalities because their names were unknown.  Fraterville was the worst disaster in the history of mining in the South and folks in the Coal Creek watershed still celebrate Memorial Day on May 19th.

Descendants of Fraterville miners at the Miners'
Circle on the 102nd anniversary of the disaster


These men and boys are buried in local cemeteries.  Some have elaborate tombstones bearing their farewell messages, like those of John Hendren and James Elliott.  Others are marked by simple fieldstones, like those of the itinerant miners who are buried beside the railroad siding in Fraterville.  Many contain the inscription "Gone But Not Forgotten".

Photo from 1940 memorial service at
Fraterville Miners' Circle

Aerial view of Fraterville Miners' Circle


Eighty-nine of the Fraterville miners were buried in concentric circles in the Miners’ Circle at Leach Cemetery in Coal Creek, Tennessee.  The town changed its name to Lake City when the Tennessee Valley Authority built Norris Dam in the 1930s.  A monument at the center of the Miners’ Circle bears the names of 184 miners.  The youngest miner buried in the circle was 12-year old Henry Whitton and the oldest was 55-year old William H. Slover. 

CCWF thanks Mr. Tony VanWinkle with the East Tennessee Development District for submitting the nomination and Boy Scout Drew Justice for performing restoration work at the circle as his Eagle project.  This recognition honors the memory of the Fraterville miners and validates the inscriptions on their headstones.  They are gone, but not forgotten.  

If you would like to visit the Fraterville Miners' Circle, it's part of our "Oh God, for one more breath", self-guided tour of Coal Creek cemeteries as shown at
Click on image to enlarge:

Briceville students make
rubbing of 12 year old
Henry Whitton's

Knoxville Actors Co-op in Miners' Circle
in their costumes from the original play
"Measured in Labor:  The Coal Creek Project"

If you have any questions, please contact Carol Moore at (865) 584-0344 or  Additional information about the Miners’ Circle and the rich coal mining history of Coal Creek can be found at .

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