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Copper Still Furnace - Tennessee Moonshine

First Foxfire book's image and explanation of an abandoned copper still furnace used for making moonshine

We enjoy our adult beverages out here on the farm, typically in the form of a cold beer after a long day. Every once in a while a margarita might show up, or a particular NY friend (you know who you are) might drop by with enough white wine to put down an army. Lots of the old-timers in our area talk about moonshine and how that’s the first alcohol they ever tasted and it was pretty much all they drank growing up. That was before they had electricity, running water, etc. Very cool stories.

One such story was told to us. The story goes as such:

Back in the seventies my grand-deedy bought these 200 acres. Now they’s jus’ 110 on my side and what ya got over on yers. The day he bought it the law was out her bustin up a steel (still). They was back deep in the trees near that pond juss cross yo feence. Said he had a second steel set up deeper in the woods

When I’uz older I looked er’wher I could back in dem trees and ne’er could find no steel. I was real interested in that but ne’er could find nothin’. Just some ole iron ta wrap dem barrels.

That was forty years ago, I was three. Bought all that land fer $16,000. Spent $28,000 feencin it!


Back when Blue was on the run I used to wander around and see if I could find signs of life and figure out where he might be settling down at night. This was before we decided to just let him come to us (much smarter idea in retrospect). One day I was pretty far out walkin through the woods and I saw some rocks in a circle. I went over and looked down and the rocks kept going down in a circle. It looked like the entrance to a cave, but it had a huge rock stuck right in the middle of it like someone tried to plug it up, so I poked around a little more and left, not thinking too much of it. Around those woods there’s old stone walls and all kinds of old bottles and old iron and stuff.

Then I was reading about moonshining in the first Foxfire book (thanks Grandma, should’ve known we’d go straight for the ‘shinin chapter) and I saw how they used to make old moonshining furnaces for the still. The light bulb immediately went off in my head. That was the old furnace for the still that my neighbor was talking about!

The old moonshine furnace buried deep in our back woods

It’s fun to think about some guys out there forty years ago deep in the forest makin’ moonshine. Maybe we’ll find some ‘shinin paraphernalia out there one day.


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2012-7 LSFStory

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