Where the Hilltops Touch the Sky

By Mike Steely

You may have heard of the Standing Stone near Monterey, Tennessee, where a tall sandstone statue of a wolf or dog once stood. Legend says the stone, along what became old Avery Trace, was a Native American marker.

Today the stone is only a small piece of rock atop a pedestal because early pioneer travelers picked off pieces of the statue as keepsakes. But Monterey is more than an old stone, it is a small community located just off Interstate 40 with its own identity. The town might be an interesting side trip for anyone headed toward Nashville and a quick place to get out of the car and stretch your legs.

Monterey is in a corner of Putman County, high atop the Cumberland Plateau, and promotes the community as “Where Hilltops Touch the Sky.”

Established in 1893 by the Cumberland Mountain Coal Company the town has about 2,700 residents.

Monterey might be called the first town in Middle Tennessee and is just off the interstate. There’s only one exit and, if you’re looking for the Standing Stone monument you may have to ask because it’s not well marked.

The original Standing Stone is located at 401 Commerce Avenue and there’s a festival there each October that draws visitors and Cherokee tribe members.

You may also want to check out the Muddy Pond Sorghum Mill while in Monterey. It also has an annual festival and the store is open every day except Sunday.

Nearby points of interests include Crab Orchard, known for the durable sandstone rocks found there and used in home and building construction. It was a stop for early travelers and a hub now for limestone mining.

Nearby is Bee Rock, a high overlook, and downtown Monterey offers a seasonal Farmer’s Market.

The Depot Museum has not only early railroad items but also displays of other local events, equipment, etc. There’s also a passenger car parked next to the building.

You can get more information about Monterey on the internet or you can call the City Hall at (931)839-3770. You can reach the Depot Museum at (931)839-2111.

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