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Percy Priest Lake: A Nashville Hidden Gem With a Strange Past

Updated: Mar 24, 2023


Located just 10 miles from Nashville, you will find Percy Priest Lake. Percy Priest Lake has become a popular spot for fishing, boating, swimming, and camping. There are also several parks and nature trails around the lake that offer great water views. If you're looking for a fun day trip or a weekend getaway, Percy Priest Lake is definitely a place you should add to your list.



The Strange History of Percy Priest Lake


Did you know that Percy Priest Lake actually has a pretty strange history? Just south of Percy Priest Lake, you will find a historical marker identifying the location of a town called Old Jefferson. This town was once a thriving community with over 500 residents. But in 1948, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction on the Stewarts Ferry Dam, which would eventually create Percy Priest Lake. The calculations for filling the damn we completed, and it was decided that the little town of Old Jefferson would end up underwater and needed to be completely torn down. The residents of Old Jefferson were told that their town would soon be underwater when the dam was finished and were forced out of their homes.


The land was acquired by the state through eminent domain and was then bulldozed and burned down. But, as the lake was being filled, they discovered the water was draining into undiscovered caves (now Long Hunter State Park), and the lake did not extend as far south as they thought. The town of Old Jefferson, which also sits on the Trail of Tears, was destroyed and for

Old Jefferson Church of Christ

gotten. The site of the Percy Priest Lake "underwater town" is near Smyrna, and you can go pay homage to the town still today.


Today, all that remains of Old Jefferson are a few foundations, a historical marker, and some headstones in the cemetery. Percy Priest Lake is definitely a hidden gem in the Nashville area. If you're looking for a fun and interesting place to spend a day or weekend, check it out! And if you're interested in learning more about its strange history, be sure to visit the site of Old Jefferson. Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoy your time at Percy Priest Lake! :)



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