Montgomery Bell State Park History
Montgomery Bell State Park offers outdoor, recreational and educational activities for residents in the Dickson, TN area.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mitchell Franz
Montgomery Bell State Park puts the “great” in “the great outdoors.”
As Tennessee State Parks celebrates its 75th anniversary, it's Montgomery Bell and its growth over the last 69 years that has the folks in Dickson County buzzing.
"We are located near a very large population of surrounding cities and counties," says Park Manager Pat Wright. "The variety of outdoor, recreational and educational experiences that people can get here is what makes Montgomery Bell State Park so appealing."
At Montgomery Bell, it is easy for everyone to find something to do, from a family looking to enjoy a relaxing day to an adventure seeker who is just waiting to hike a nature trail or experience a peaceful canoe ride. Several nature-themed programs are also available to teach park-goers about trains, reptiles, ecosystems, recycling and more.
Wright says that new educational programs can be added based on visitor interest.
Montgomery Bell's Beginning
Montgomery Bell State Park, located seven miles east of Dickson in Dickson County, was established in 1943. The area is named for Montgomery Bell, who purchased an iron works in northern Dickson County in 1804 and turned it into one of Tennessee's largest iron-making operations, earning him the nickname "Tennessee's First Iron Master."
The park was developed as Montgomery Bell Recreation Demonstration Area during the Great Depression. It is filled with the scenic beauty and enjoyable outdoor activities that have made Tennessee parks such a popular destination, even for the holidays.
"Several years ago, we decided to find a place close to Nashville where we could go and celebrate Thanksgiving as a family. We went to Montgomery Bell State Park, and it’s been a tradition ever since," says local resident Chase Ezell. "It’s just a wonderful place to be together as a family.”
Montgomery Bell's 3,782 acres feature three lakes and enough outdoor activities to – well, fill a state park. Fishing is available at the park year-round, and gasoline motors are not allowed on two of the lakes (Woodhaven and Acorn), helping to preserve the clean air and peaceful tranquility. The park features 17.3 miles of hiking trails for hikers of all experience levels, including the 11.7-mile overnight trail. There are also 20 miles of dirt mountain-bike trails ranging from easy to difficult.
"The park feels very natural – instead of building a park to feel like the wilderness, they seem to have planned the park around the existing wilderness," says Phil Casey, a frequent hiker in the park. "Most of all, they have a lot to offer. I have gone to Montgomery Bell State Park for quiet, solo hikes and also for a family fun trip with young kids as well."
Getting back to nature isn't the only thing that draws approximately one million people to Montgomery Bell each year. Facilities open to visitors include basketball courts, softball fields, tennis courts, horseshoes, volleyball, playground and exercise equipment.
The Frank G. Clement Gold Course at Montgomery Bell allows golfers to enjoy a peaceful round of play and is operated to attain certification as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. It is also designated as a Groundwater Guardian Green Site. For tee times, call (615) 797-2578.
Montgomery Bell offers conference-style meeting facilities to accommodate up to 500 guests. The restaurant at Montgomery Bell, which is part of the Inn and Conference Center, seats up to 190 people. The park also has eight two-bedroom villas, campgrounds, RV camp sites and rustic group-camping cabins in addition to its 120-room, five-suite park inn. For more information, call the visitor center at (615) 797-9052.
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