Friday, May 29, 2009

Streetlevel tour of Scopes sites

I recently noticed that Google Maps & Earth finally upgraded Dayton to high resolution photos and to streetlevel views of many of the streets in town. That inspired me to create this little tour of sites associated with the Scopes Trial.

Dayton Coal & Iron Co. Mines
Dayton's involvement in the Scopes Trial began with the failure of one of its major employers, the Dayton Coal & Iron Company. There had been a number of companies that had tried to sustain a mine in the area (in fact, there are old mine works in the hills behind my house). None of them were very successful. The latest closure led to the famous meeting in Robinson's Drugstore where F.E. Robinson and George Rappleyea came up with the idea of answering the ACLU's ad for someone to break the recently-passed Butler Act, which outlawed the teaching of human evolution in Tennessee high schools. There's not much to see in the street level view, but if you follow that gravel road, you'll eventually come to remains of the mines (long since collapsed) and coke ovens.

Site of Robinson's Drugstore
This is where Robinson's Drugstore originally stood on Main Street. It's just a lot today, but that rock next to the sidewalk has a historical marker that explains what happened there. As noted above, this is where the inhabitants of Dayton hatched the scheme to host a show trial in order to bring attention and hopefully investment to their town. (Unlike the depiction in Inherit the Wind, there were never any angry villagers with torches and pitchforks.)

Robinson Home
This is the original house where F.E. Robinson lived. It's right across the street from the courthouse, and it's still owned by the Robinson family.

Bailey House
This is the boarding house where Scopes stayed while in town. Ten years ago, it was a bed and breakfast, and I got to stay there, just down the hall from Scopes's original room. Scopes's room is the one on the corner, facing the courthouse. Scopes was a coach at the high school and substituted for the science teacher, and it is highly doubtful if he ever taught evolution, despite the conviction.

Site of Rhea County High School
The high school where Scopes taught stood at this location just down the street from the Bailey House. Bryan College used the same building for classes during its first five years (1930-1935). NOTE: The building there now is not the original high school building.

Last but certainly not least, here's the Rhea County Courthouse. It's the original courthouse, and court is still held in the courtroom where the trial took place. In this view, you can see the windows of the courtroom on the second floor on the right. In the same picture on the left side of the building, you can see a replica of the platform that was built for the cross-examination of the attorneys of the case. Only Bryan was so examined, since Darrow had Scopes abruptly plead guilty before Darrow's turn in the witness stand could come.