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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
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.

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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