Friday, August 26, 2011

The Cumberland Homesteads

The Cumberland Homesteads was a New Deal project designed to bring hope to miners, factory workers, and others displaced by the Great Depression. Workers and their families would be relocated to small farms, which they would pay for through their "sweat equity," that is, work on the project itself for which part of their salary would be held back in repayment of their loans. More than 2,000 families applied for some 250 available homesteads.

The stone and timber used in construction of houses, barns, and outbuildings were obtained locally. At the request of Eleanor Roosevelt, each house had indoor plumbing, which was uncommon in the rural area at the time. Running water was supplied from a 50,000 gallon tank housed in the tower shown above. Also, each house was wired for electricity in anticipation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, which began supplying electricity in 1937.

Originally built to house administrative offices, as well as the water tank, the Homesteads Tower now serves as a museum for the National Register of Historic Places district. The Cumberland Homesteads are located 4 miles south of Crossville, Tennessee, near the Cumberland Mountain State Park.


  1. We could do with some kind of scheme like that today to give hope to all the young unemployed.

  2. Very interesting. I believe the first homestead Eleanor created was in Authordale, WV.

  3. John, all of our government's aid now seems to be going to the richest people instead of those who are unemployed and without much hope.

    Janet, I believe you're right. At least that's what Authordale claims. There were quite a few created across the country. Knoxville, Tennessee, writer Loletta Clouse has written a novel "The Homesteads" that describes life in the Cumberland Homesteads. I recommend it.