This building in Dickson County was originally built by the Ruskin Cooperative Association.

County Seat: Charlotte

There's a lot of interesting history in
Dickson County. This is one of many counties where the county seat was bypassed by the railroad, which is why county seat Charlotte is much smaller than Dickson, the largest town in the county. Dickson County is famous as the home of the late governor Frank Clement. It is known to be one of the earliest iron manufacturing areas of Tennessee.

Members of the commune working in Ruskin Cave
PHOTO: TN State Library and Archives

But the most unusual thing that has ever happened in Dickson County is that a commune was started here in 1894. (A commune is a place where families live together and share their money and property.) It was called the Ruskin Cooperative Association, and it was started by a socialist author from Indiana named Julius Wayland.

Wayland dreamed of a utopia with good schools, libraries, gymnasiums, lecture halls and such. Several hundred people moved there and gave it a try, but the dream didn’t work as well as hoped. The commune left
Tennessee in 1899 and was dissolved two years later.

Today Ruskin Cave is part of Camp Renaissance
For many years, the former site of the Ruskin Cooperative Association was now the home of Camp Renaissance, a great place for boys and girls between 6 and 14 years of age.

Unfortunately, Camp Renaissance closed in 2013.

Dickson County is also the home of Montgomery Bell State Park, a nice place to visit.

Here is Creech Hollow Lake at Montgomery Bell State Park.

And here is a nice creek at the state park.

Here is the Dickson County Courthouse.

Built in 1833, it is the oldest active courthouse in Tennessee.