Rutledge Falls, near Tullahoma, Tennessee, has been on my bucket list since I first came to Tennessee. It is only 20 miles from the house—I should have gone there long ago. I even tried, but got lost in an indescribable maze of woodland roads. Today, with good directions it was easy to find.
The falls are on private property, but open to the public from dawn to dusk. The falls are located in a beautiful natural area for hiking and picnicking. Access is from a small roadside parking lot across Rutledge Falls Road from the Rutledge Baptist Church—look for the drive with the millstone. Since the falls are on private property, be sure to read the “rules” posted at the entrance.
The falls are a short walk down a moderately steep, rocky path to Crumpton Creek. The creek flows along beside fairly easy hiking trails through the valley and into (TVA) Normandy Lake.
Not knowing anything about the falls, I was somewhat puzzled when I encountered a statue of a woman above and facing the falls. There is no marker identifying the woman or the statue.
However, a little research exposed the real story. First, it seems her name is “Night.” Here is the story, as written by Jack Jennings, son of Pop Jennings who “saved” Night.
“THE MYSTERIOUS STATUE AT RUTLEDGE FALLS – A PIECE OF HISTORY DIRECT FROM THE STATE CAPITOL
“I was three years old when my family moved to live in the house at Rutledge Falls in 1953, and perhaps eight or ten years old when the mysterious statue was installed on the bluff overlooking the falls by my father…. the true story is part of a larger story of terrible waste and unfortunate destruction of an important element of the history of the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville. My father, Lyndon B. “Pop” Jennings, was not a patron of the arts, but he hated to see anything wasted
“Many years passed before I got more curious about the statue, and was able to learn more of its history. Perhaps it started when I saw and bought an issue of The Tennessee Historical Quarterly that concerned itself with the history of the capitol building. It included pictures of the capitol during the Civil War and the next ninety years or so, when the north and south ends of the building were accented by freestanding gas lamp fixtures, with three identical life-sized statues being part of each. Those statues were named Morning, Noon and Night, according to the article, and were ordered in 1859 from a firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that designed and fabricated extraordinary ornamental ironwork.
“At some sort of legislative meeting during that period, Pop saw that a great pile of statues were visible, and he asked what was happening, and learned that all the statues were to be buried on the site, having recently been removed from the state capitol grounds as a part of a massive renovation project then underway.” Considering this a “terrible waste and shame…Pop obtained permission to save one of the statues, once he found one that was unbroken, and then moved it to its present site. He always referred to the female figure as ‘The Lady of the FaIls’.”
This bit of Tennessee history now survives in a beautiful natural setting with a grand view of Rutledge Falls.
The complete story of Jennings’ family is a story of wealth and privilege, devastation by the Union Army during the Civil war, relocation, hardship, and gradual recovery and finally settling on the land with Rutledge Fall. For a
more in-depth account, go to “THE MYSTERIOUS STATUE AT RUTLEDGE FALLS.”
After several attempts, I finally find Rutledge Falls and, as always encounter unanticipated discoveries.