Early Monterey History - 1787 - 1899
Four years after the end of the American Revolution, due to the rapid migration west, the North Carolina legislature recognized the immediate need to build a wagon road from the Clinch Mountains to the western settlement town of Nashville. The only existing route was across 70 miles of Indian trails through the wilderness of the Cumberland Plateau. In 1787 Peter Avery and 80 military volunteers began to cut and clear the 10 foot wide wagon road first known as Avery Trace.
On the Avery Trace road was a natural stone monolith called Standing Stone, future home of Monterey. For centuries this land mark was a guide post to the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau for the Cherokee and Shawnee Indians and then for the pioneers as they traveled west. The history of the origin of Standing Stone is a mystery but its importance to westward migration was significant.
The first settlement in the Standing Stone area was established around 1805 by three men and their families. John Whittaker III, John Sahon Jr. and Alexander Officer. As the pioneers moved west over Avery Trace the Standing Stone Inn became famous for the accommodations it offered road weary travelers. From 1830 to 1875 the migration to the west continued and the population of Standing Stone grew from three families to approximately 30 families.
After the end of the Civil War in 1865, Standing Stone like the rest of the south needed to heal. Even though no major battles were fought in the immediate area, the devastation and the cruelty of the War had touched Standing Stone as the Union soldiers moved west to Nashville, Murfreesboro and Franklin Tennessee. An historical plaque stands today in downtown Monterey marking the massacre of 6 Confederate soldiers by 200 Federal troops on March 12, 1864.
Peace came to the Standing Stone area and life returned to normal. In 1893 as America continued to prospered after the reconstruction, the wealth of natural resources abundant in the area were in great demand. The combination of rich coal deposits discovered by Tomas Jefferson Whittaker in 1857 while hunting, available timber from vast forests of hard wood trees and the Nashville and Knoxville railroad connecting the east to Middle Tennessee brought growth to Standing Stone.
In March of 1893 the newly formed Cumberland Mountain Coal Company capitalizing on this economic boom purchased several hundred acres from Thomas Jefferson Whittaker to build a new town. A town which was to be the center for the development of the coal and lumber industries on the Cumberland Plateau. The coal company hired 2 highly competent civil engineers to survey and layout this new town. Then when the survey was completed it was then decided this new town needed a new name. A contest was held and the winning name was Monterey, Spanish meaning King of the Mountain. In December 1893 Monterey, formerly know as Standing Stone, was incorporated.
By 1895 Monterey was flourishing and by 1899 Monterey was on its way to becoming one of Tennessee’s leading tourist attractions. Monterey’s location on the Cumberland Plateau, 2000 feet above sea level and mid way between Nashville and Knoxville made it the perfect destination point. The cooler Cumberland Mountain air and soft breezes provided relief from summer heat and humidity. Monterey offered a wide range of entertainment. The spectacular views from Bee Rock*, picnic basket lunches under the trees at Monterey Park, the mysterious history of the Standing Stone Monument*, band concerts, and on weekends sand lot baseball games between rivaling towns. Monterey was popular special excursion trains would come from Nashville to Monterey special holidays such as the 4th of July.
*** See additional information on Standing Stone and Bee Rock on our web site.