Thursday, August 30, 2012

Historic Dayton, Tennessee and Scopes Trial Museum

Hubby and I took a short walking tour of Historic Dayton, Tennessee the other day. History is everywhere in Dayton. The historic Rhea County Courthouse in downtown Dayton, contains the artifacts from the Scopes Trial. Walking around downtown made an ideal post meeting break.

Rhea Co. Courthouse Tennessee
The main stop on our walk through Dayton was the 1891 historic Rhea County Courthouse. This houses the free Rhea County Museum. It's the place to be if you want to see artifacts from the Scopes Trial. The original judge's bench that was used in the Scopes trial is still there and so is the spectator box.

Another interesting display is the drugstore. The Scopes Trial was a test of the (then) Tennessee law that prohibited the teaching of anything other than the divine creation of man as told in the Bible. It was at this drugstore (owned by Fred Robinson) that the idea for testing the Tennessee law was born.

It is interesting that the Scopes Trial was the effort of several prominent citizens, attorneys and science teacher John Scopes (who was asked to participate). The Law School of the University of Missouri has an excellent article about how it all came together. The amount of work that went into this test case before charges were filed is astounding.

Had I visited earlier, Dayton would have made my top 15 places to visit in the state. The free Scopes Trial museum is open from 9-5 daily except for holidays. A parking lot is available next door. The building is still functioning as the Rhea County Courthouse. Visitors should be prepared to enter through security at the rear entrance of the building.