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Montgomery Bell Tunnel

White Bluff, Tennessee
County of Cheatham.
Harpeth River & Bell Bend Road
National Register Number: 71000814
Resource type: Structure.
Property type: Industry/Processing/Extract. - waterworks. The threat level was Watch in
2008.
Congressional District: TN-3 Certified Local Government: NO
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Current use/information: Part of Montgomery Bell State Park.

Statement of Significance (as of designation - April 19, 1994):
By tunneling through a 290-foot deep limestone ridge, Montgomery Bell created the first known water diversion tunnel in the United States; in fact, this is the oldest known full-size tunnel of any kind in the country. The tunnel, built between 1818 and 1819, served as a man-made water flume with an approximate 16 foot fall of water, which its owner planned to utilize as the central element of a water-powered industrial site. Bell's tunnel was almost certainly constructed using the long established method known as hand drilling, which utilized hand-held hammers, chisels, and black powder; the arduous labor was done by slaves.

Condition:
Our state historian visited the site on June 30th and agreed that action needs to be taken to protect the the tunnel from further naturally-cause damage.

There were no changes reported.


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