On March 13, Historic Rugby opened its doors for the beginning of the 2014 season. The Commissary, Café, Visitor Centre will now be open Thursday-Sunday through August when additional hours will be added for the fall.


Just two days later, on March 15, we held our first event of the season and it was a great success. This special hiking event was both a tribute to Eric Wilson, long time Rugby resident and early trail blazer here, and an unveiling for one of our newest brochures: “Hidden Trails, Hike Rugby!”.  The brochure promotes a variety of trails, which have been built over the course of several years, most of which have been known only to our local residents.

Lisa Huff, manager of the Rugby State Natural Area, began the day with a guided hike along the Massengale Trail from the Rugby Visitor Centre to the homestead, then along Allerton Road to Uffington House.  Nearly 40 people attended the hike, and it introduced just one of the many trails known only to locals: Allerton Road.

The most moving aspect of the day, which followed a lunch break, was the unveiling ceremony of our new hiking brochure held in honor of Eric Wilson, to whom the new brochure is dedicated.  Introductory remarks from Executive Director, Zach Langley, were followed by brief overviews of State Natural Area developments from Lisa Huff, and National Park Service work in the area, including the new Big South Fork Rugby Ranger Station, by Niki Nicholas, Superintendent of Big South Fork and Obed Wild and Scenic River.

The featured presentation of the ceremony was given by Jim Poteet of the Tennessee Trails Association, and a long time friend of Eric. A few opening comments on Eric’s passion for hiking introduced a slide show of Eric’s many outings in the region, some dating all the way back to 1962 when Eric and Jim first met at Vanderbilt University. The slides were not just a documentation of Eric’s leisure time, but a telling sign of his dedication to outdoor recreation in the Rugby area. Many of Rugby’s past and present volunteers appeared among the pictures of camping, hiking, and even canoe excursions- some to the Big South Fork before there was even a park.

A longer guided hike along the Laurel Dale Trail from Beacon Hill, to the Meeting of the Waters and Gentlemen’s Swimming Hole Loop trail followed.

Overall the day was a fitting way to kick off the new Rugby season as we seek to expand the horizons of Historic Rugby this year.  Rugby is so much more than a historic village or museum, and this event was an excellent way of demonstrating that fact as we promote the others activities in and around Rugby.  Be sure to check out the new brochure, which is avalible in digital form at the following link:

Hidden Trails, Hike Rugby! trail brochure


Article by: Executive Director, Zach Langley

Photos by: George Zepp