Monteagle Mountain

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Monteagle Mountain is the local name given to a stretch of Interstate 24 near Monteagle, Tennessee that passes over the Cumberland Plateau. Being part of the plateau, it is not technically a mountain, but appears that way to motorists crossing over it. It is frequently referenced as one of the most treacherous stretches of interstate in the United States, especially in inclement weather. It rises to an elevation of around 600 metres, with gradients of 6%. Johnny Cash even wrote and performed a song about the treacherous nature of that stretch of road.[a] The title song for the movie Smokey and the Bandit describes the Bandit in a harrowing journey down the Monteagle Grade in 1963. The song is entitled "The Legend" and was written by Jerry Reed.

The mountain was part of the Cherokee homeland till 1817.[1]

The mountain was named "Eagle Mountain" by the Cherokee because of the great number of the golden eagles that roosted and nested along its ridge line. In fact, in honor of those birds, for many years a golden eagle sat in the Park in Monteagle until it was stolen as a school prank. It now sits in display at Tennessee Tech University.

The University's version of accounts differs from that of the local residents, who stated that a gold painted eagle statue sat in front of the motel. After the motel burned, it was reclaimed and repainted and placed in front of the park until one night, some thieves came and stole it. A reward was offered for its return but nothing could be proven. [interview with local resident]

The schools version of events, however, states:

Several Tech students braved a driving night rainstorm to pilfer a huge block-tin eagle statue from the charred ruins of a resort hotel in Monteagle. They painted the creature - with a wingspan of over six feet - a glistening gold, and suspended it from the rafter for public inspection at the following day's basketball game in Memorial Gym.[2][3]

After the Cherokee were removed, the area was renamed Moffit's Station in May 1870 by John Moffat, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, with his wife and children. It would later become Moffat Station and still later, the city of Monteagle.


  1. ^ Monteagle mountain
    • There's a stretch of Highway on Interstate 24 between Nashville and Chattanooga
    • That's claimed many trucker's life
    • And your life is in your hands when you start down that long steep grade
    • On Monteagle Mountain
    • I just rolled out of Nashville in my big rig headin' south
    • My eyes are on fire feels like cotton in my mouth
    • My whole body's achin' but I got to make them big wheels roll
    • I got to be in Florida by tomorrow morning with a full heavy load
    • I got to get past Atlanta as soon as I can tonight
    • I got to try to dodge the scales and stay out of Smoky's sight
    • But there's one big thing standin' like a nightmare in my way
    • I got to top Monteagle Mountain a little bit later today
    • Goin' down Monteagle Mountain on I-24
    • It's hell for a trucker when the devil's at your door
    • He'll tempt you and tell you come on let her roll
    • Cause the mountain wants your rig and trucker I want your soul
    • When I started down Monteagle the brakes just wouldn't hold
    • I knew I was in trouble and bout to lose control
    • The runaway ramp was waitin' I saw the warnin' sign
    • I said Lord help me make it have mercy on this soul of mine
    • Well I ploughed into that runaway ramp and I could feel that big truck groan
    • My life flashed right before my eyes and for a minute I thought I was gone
    • But when the smoke cleared I thanked God that I was still alive
    • Cause when there's a runaway on Monteagle some truckers don't survive
    • Goin' down Monteagle Mountain...
    • Yeah many a good man had lost his life on Monteagle Mountain it's a long steep grade
    • Many a good hard workin' boy gone over the side watch out for Monteagle


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  3. ^ TTU. "TTU". Retrieved 2013-03-28.

Coordinates: 35°14′N 85°52′W / 35.233°N 85.867°W / 35.233; -85.867