Little Hollow

  • 1890-1914: THE EARLY DAYS OF LITTLE HOLLOW

    1890-1914: THE EARLY DAYS OF LITTLE HOLLOW
    Disasters give way to a new community
  • A Series of Disasters

    Before the founding of Little Hollow in 1904, the area was known as Old Hollow. The doomed town of Old Hollow was subject to strange occurrences and frequent flooding, experiencing major floods in 1834, 1851, 1867, 1886, 1902, and 1903.
  • The Great Dry Flood

    The Great Dry Flood
    In 1900, Old Hollow experiences the century's first "dry flood" when half the town falls ill with "The Water Fits." A first person interpretation by local historian Del Vincent brings this tragic story to life. Video Exhibit
  • The Old Hollow Floods

    The Old Hollow Floods
    Margaret “Maggie” Jones, pinch hitter for the Old Hollow Floods. The Floods baseball team was formed in 1901 when Old Hollow attempted to position themselves as the next Nashville. Most of their first season was canceled due to consistent flooding of their field and the league expelled them the following year after the only opposing team to ever play in Old Hollow were all sickened with malaria from the abundant and voracious mosquito population.
  • Old Hollow Sciences Society

    Old Hollow Sciences Society
    The Old Hollow Sciences Society voted to change their name to Old Hollow Flood Management Committee at their annual meeting. This is the only known photo of the town’s only surgeon, Josiah Ackerman (pictured seated, far left) and the infamous naturalist, Thaddeus Blakely (pictured standing, far right), both of whom perished in the Great Flood of 1903.
  • The Great Flood of 1903

    The Great Flood of 1903
    The water steadily began rising and the town of Old Hollow was slowly submerged under the lake. The few residents who survived vowed to rebuild the town and found Little Hollow. Local dramatic re-enactors Peter Cobb and Carl Ellsworth imagine the final hours of the Old Hollow Floodwatch Video Exhibit
  • Little Hollow Established

    Little Hollow was a town in Hayes County, Tennessee, United States. Established in 1904 following frequent floods.
  • Little Hollow's First Airplane

    Little Hollow's First Airplane
    Shortly after the Wright brothers’ successful flight at Kitty Hawk, Edward Ward, resident Little Hollow inventor, made claims that his plane had been invented first. He planned a grand debut of his aircraft to prove it’s superiority, however it crashed into Great Valley Lake moments after takeoff and the wreckage was never recovered. Ward survived, but out of deep embarrassment for his outlandish claims, he swam to the opposite shore and never set foot in Little Hollow again.
  • Little Hollow Wild West Days

    Little Hollow Wild West Days
    The Little Hollow Wild West Days, a short-lived festival, featured many competitions and exhibitions and was one of the few festivals at the time to encourage the participation of women. Mrs. June Topperwein, seen here in one of her yearly appearances at the festival’s shooting exhibition, was unfortunately hospitalized in nearby Jonestonia for her delusion that she was Annie Oakley, whom she deeply admired. Little Hollow Wild West Days was abandoned after tragedy befell one of the competitions.
  • The First Little Hollow Taxi Service

    The First Little Hollow Taxi Service
    Muriel P. Anderson moved to Little Hollow and started the first taxi service to support herself and her daughter, Ina, after leaving her layabout husband in Nashville. Ms. Anderson and her horse, Ubert, worked almost daily. Ubert was originally called Handsome Hubert, but became known as Ubert when Miss Anderson couldn’t pronounce the H in Hubert as a small girl. Mr. Anderson came to Little Hollow once to collect Ubert and Miss Anderson, but was repelled by Mrs. Anderson and her shotgun.
  • The Crime Spree of Pudding Murphy

    The Crime Spree of Pudding Murphy
    Adelaide Murphy and her husbands Clarence (center) and Calvin (right) pose with their pet monkeys, Pudding (center front) and Leopold. Shortly after this photo was taken, Pudding went on a crime spree, stealing handkerchiefs and left socks from homes all over Little Hollow. His relationship with Leopold was irreparably damaged when Leopold snitched and gave up Pudding’s hideout in the nearby woods. Pudding was the first baboon in Tennessee to be tried and convicted. He served two years in jail.
  • 1915-1939: THE LOG BOOM

    1915-1939: THE LOG BOOM
    Industry comes to Little Hollow, and with it, changes to the town.
  • The Logging Industry

    The Kitchen-Bolt Speculative Lumber Co-Operation, a lumber concern, is founded by local entrepreneur Boyd Kitchen. Little Hollow thrives.
  • Little Hollowland Opens and Closes

    Little Hollowland Opens and Closes
    At the grand opening of Little Hollow's first and only theme park, Little Hollowland, Judy the elephant violently tossed her riders, including Elizabeth Blakely, daughter of deceased naturalist, Thaddeus Blakely, into the path of an oncoming roller coaster car. There were no survivors. Two days later the theme park was shut down and Judy was sold to Marvin Ackerman, son of the deceased Dr. Josiah Ackerman, cementing the feud between the two families.
  • Tragic Cross-Cut Sawing Accident

    Little Hollow Wild West Days was abandoned after tragedy befell one of the competitions, speed cross-cut sawing, when a large oak tree flattened several participants, one judge, and two spectators.
  • A Traditional Dog Funeral

    A Traditional Dog Funeral
    Due to consistent flooding, canines were rare in the area and family pet funerals were extravagant affairs. Pictured here, the Swann family paying their respects to lost loved ones. Prudence Swann, later suspected of murder, is partially obscured by trees at center.
  • Changes in the Logging Industry

    Professor Denver Bolt and Boyd Kitchen, co-owners of Kitchen-Bolt Speculative Lumber Co-Operation, sell the company to one of their rivals, the Swann Lumber Co of America, founded by famous explorer Delrico Swann.
  • Murder and Scandal!

    Kitchen Bolt Lumber Co. owner Boyd Kitchen is found murdered. His body was discovered in his bedroom, on a pile of money, shot multiple times. His business rival Delrico Swann, and Delrico’s wife Prudence Swann, were both suspects in the murder, until Delrico Swann also ended up shot dead. Prudence Swann was neither tried nor convicted for the two murders, but questions lingered and salacious rumors persisted.
  • The First Appearance of the "Monster" of Great Valley Lake

    The First Appearance of the "Monster" of Great Valley Lake
    Marianne Voda shortly before her 1923 attempt to swim across Great Valley Lake. Despite the safety team following behind her, Ms. Voda did not return. Rumors of a Little Hollow “Loch Ness Monster” had been just whispers prior to Ms. Voda’s disappearance, but a series of missing persons in and around the lake in later decades were widely believed to have been connected.
  • Gin Ducks

    Gin Ducks
    After consistent flooding, ducks and other waterborne animals became popular pets for their projected longevity, two young ladies (names unknown) demonstrate “Gin Ducks” small pets that would supposedly “only float on alcohol” a popular scheme to sidestep prohibition.
  • Minor Flood

    Minor Flood
    1930, Little Hollow suffered many minor floods, in addition to the Great Floods of 1924 and 1959. Due to toxins released into Great Valley Lake by The Kitchen-Bolt Speculative Lumber Co-Operation, many pants did not survive the floods. Anti-flood tires became a must-have item for Little Hollow cars.
  • The #1 Song in America

    The #1 Song in America
    A popular comic song of the time “To All Mine Lovers and Others" is based on the Kitchen/Swann murders that took place in Little Hollow. In the song, a young woman writes her name on the bullets she uses to kill those who wronged her. Many of the "facts" in the song were exaggerated for comic effect. Written by one-time resident of Little Hollow Shirley Sawyers, the song reached number one in 1932. Video Exhibit
  • Second Sighting of the Great Valley Lake "Monster"

    Second Sighting of the Great Valley Lake "Monster"
    Last known photo of Captain F. K. Burnham before his and his six passengers’ ill-fated three hour cruise. The entire boat and all passengers disappeared just a decade after Marianne Voda’s disappearance in Great Valley Lake, fueling further stories of a Little Hollow “Loch Ness Monster”. There was a lone fisherman, Alan Hart, who claimed to have sighted the monster around the time of the boat’s presumed disappearance but his tales were brushed off by the authorities.
  • Longest Running Little Hollow Newspaper Opens

    Longest Running Little Hollow Newspaper Opens
    Brothers Anselmo and Osvaldo Basquez in the offices of the first Spanish language newspaper in Little Hollow, NOTICIA HUECA. Their publication was the longest running newspaper in Little Hollow, after several unconnected scandals engulfed other Little Hollow publishers throughout the latter half of the 20th century.
  • 1940-1959: TROUBLES FOR LITTLE HOLLOW

    1940-1959: TROUBLES FOR LITTLE HOLLOW
    More unexpected tragedy for Little Hollow: economic trouble, fire, and a disappearance that would haunt the town for decades.
  • Was Tatertrot Framed?

    Was Tatertrot Framed?
    Bess Harrington’s formal equestrian portrait taken in 1940, shortly before she competed in the inaugural Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville. Fans of her steeplechase skills were shocked to learn of her demise later that summer when Tatertrot, her horse, was found dragging her by one leg in Mr. Denny Bilbot’s pasture. It was later discovered that Ms. Harrington and Mr. Bilbot were having a torrid affair and rumors flew that Tatertrot had been framed for Ms. Harrington’s death.
  • Little Hollow's Conjoined Twins

    Little Hollow's Conjoined Twins
    Little Hollow’s only known conjoined twins, Steve and Doug Murphy, separated at birth, grew up to become the Sheriff and Deputy of Little Hollow in the 1960s. Steve, against all odds, grew taller than Doug, due to copious milk consumption. Their relationship was contentious.
  • Neu Eingefallenburg Founded

    After the decline in logging and collapse of the local economy, the city attempted to resurrect itself by becoming a replica of a Bavarian alpine town, located in the Appalachians instead of the Alps. The scheme was enacted by the town’s mayor at the time, Bertha Gertrud Erfinderisch-Bürgermeisterin, a German immigrant who modeled the new design after Eingefallenburg, the Bavarian town where she was born.
  • Neu Eingefallenburg Burned

    Neu Eingefallenburg Burned
    Remains of the new construction to create Neu Eingefallenburg, burned to the ground by firefighters recently returned from the war who strongly opposed the rebranding scheme of the then mayor, Bertha Gertrud Erfinderisch-Bürgermeisterin. The town was quickly renamed Little Hollow again following the fires.
  • Firefighters Outlawed

    Firefighters Outlawed
    Contentious memorial service for the lost Neu Eingefallenburg firefighters/arsonists, boycotted by prominent members of Little Hollow whose homes were destroyed in the blaze. The firehouse was abandoned shortly after, when firefighters were outlawed.
  • Maiden Voyage of The Flood Fouler II

    Maiden Voyage of The Flood Fouler II
    Bill Mattingly and son Charlie testing their boat, The Flood Fouler II. Equipped with cannons that propelled 50 life jackets toward struggling victims in the water, this was the Mattingly's second attempt at such a device, as Flood Fouler I was destroyed by a flood. In the first human test, two subjects nearly drowned when life jackets hit them at such a velocity they were knocked unconscious. Mr.'s Mattingly and Mattingly were not deterred. They were eventually credited with saving five lives.
  • Disappearance of Jeremy Kitchen

    The origin of the explosion that led to the Jigsaw Sugar Fire was narrowed down to the center of the factory. At the time it was believed that Jeremy Kitchen, a young boy who disappeared in the blast, may have been the cause of the fire. It was thought to have occurred in a basement beneath storage silos. Investigations conducted by the Department of Justice ruled out deliberate criminal activity in 1965. Jeremy Kitchen was never found.
  • The Sugar Refinery Explosion

    The Jigsaw Sugar Fire occurred on February 14, 1959. Eleven people were killed, one missing and presumed dead, and forty injured in a dust explosion at the refinery. With firefighters outlawed, the fire spread uncontrolled through the town. It burned so hot it caused the lake to overturn, launching water into the air and causing another Great Valley Flood. Contents of the lake were scattered everywhere across the town, putting out the flames, but severely damaging the town.
  • Twin Disasters in Pop Culture

    Twin Disasters in Pop Culture
    Several movies were inspired by the Twin Disasters that befell Little Hollow in 1959 including the unproduced screenplay Timegate 4000: The Infinity Paradox. This unmade and fragmentary script imagined Jeremy Kitchen’s story as a time travel adventure in which Jeremy stumbles into a time portal and ends up on a mission to save Little Hollow’s past – and his own future! Presented here as a dramatic reading of an incomplete and partial script. Video Exhibit
  • 1960-1979: A TIME OF CHANGE

    1960-1979: A TIME OF CHANGE
    Little Hollow commemorates disaster and looks toward a new future.
  • Little Hollow Fish Wild Festival

    Little Hollow Fish Wild Festival
    A festival was held from 1960 into the 1970s to commemorate the 1959 disasters and celebrate the town’s efforts to rebuild. Contests such as beverage making and fish throwing offered prizes and glory. Children hid fish throughout the town to reenact the scattering of aquatic life when the lake exploded. In this short play, Playwright Annabeth Mulray dramatizes the origin of the infamous Flood Fizz soda at the 1960 Little Hollow Fish Wild Festival. Video Exhibit
  • Miss Fish Queen

    Miss Fish Queen
    Ruby Kitchen was awarded the first Miss Fish Queen title at the inaugural Fish Wild Festival following her brother’s disappearance in 1959. Judith Everly, known pageant mom, hotly disputed the outcome as rigged, saying her daughter was not given a fair chance. Her demands for a recount were ignored.
  • Jigsaw Ghosts

    Jigsaw Ghosts
    The surviving family of a factory worker lost in the 1959 Jigsaw Sugar Co explosion. The town widely believed the ghosts in the background were individuals lost in the explosion and subsequent flood.
  • Cheating at the Fish Wild Festival

    Cheating at the Fish Wild Festival
    During the festival, contests such a beverage making and fish throwing offered prizes and glory, though Douglas Winston (pictured here warming up) won the fish throwing contest all 18 years the festival was held, sparking rumors of cheating and performance enhancement. They were never proven and Winston retained his medals.
  • The Last Fish Wild Festival

    As the town divided on preservation of Little Hollow versus improving and modernizing, the final Fish Wild Fest was held, heralding the end of an era for the town.
  • 1980-1990: THE LAST DAYS OF LITTLE HOLLOW

    1980-1990: THE LAST DAYS OF LITTLE HOLLOW
    Citizens try to hold on to each other as Little Hollow is sold to a German conglomerate and slides into history.
  • A Bitterly Contest Mayoral Election

    During the bitterly contested mayoral election of 1984, Little Hollow was rocked by an additional scandal. The daughter of the Republican candidate Regina Bell and the son of the Democratic candidate Tom Matherson, disappeared together and eloped on the eve of the Election. In the end, no winner was declared and the turmoil led to the eventual dissolution of the local government and set in motion the decline of Little Hollow.
  • Election Night Scandal

    Election Night Scandal
    This video exhibit is a recreation of the first encounter of the election night star-crossed young lovers, where love starts to bloom, and sets them on an inevitable and scandalous rollercoaster path toward matrimonial bliss. Playing the sweethearts are local actors Justin McLemore and Emma Gwatney, recently seen in the sold-out production of The Long Hot Tennessee August at Little Hollow Playhouse.
    Video Exhibit
  • Gruben-Fehlt Elektromotor Comes to Town

    With no Mayor and no local control, the Government of Little Hollow is dissolved. Little Hollow becomes an “unincorporated civic area” overseen by a city manager employed by the state. The state then sells the town to International Consumer Innovations, a commercial real estate subsidiary of Gruben-Fehlt Elektromotor, a German conglomerate.
  • Video Paradise

    Video Paradise
    The 1980s and 90s saw many changes to Little Hollow, including the demolishing of buildings and local businesses. One of the last local businesses to close was a video rental business. In this first person re-telling, owner and curator Evie Lavelle recounts her own experience in a changing Little Hollow and her last night at Video Paradise where the history of the town, and the last copy of the cursed movie Disastertown USA, are jealously guarded.
    Video Exhibit
  • Little Hollow Bulldozed

    German conglomerate Gruben-Fehlt Elektromotor begins the process of dismantling Little Hollow. The remaining town square is demolished and bulldozed in 1991 to begin construction on Eastland Mall, a one million-square-foot regional indoor shopping mall.
  • 1991-2014: THE MALL THAT WAS A TOWN

    1991-2014: THE MALL THAT WAS A TOWN
    Little Hollow is bulldozed and replaced by The Eastland Mall.
  • Eastland Mall Grand Opening

    The Eastland Mall shopping center was inaugurated on February 14, 1992. Built by Konstruktomat Construction Services, a division of Gruben-Fehlt Elektromotor, Eastland Mall flourished for many years. It featured over two hundred stores during its heyday as the third largest and highest-grossing mall in Tennessee.
  • Rivers of Love

    Rivers of Love
    During its first decade, the Eastland Mall has over 200 stores and is the highest-grossing mall in Tennessee for several years. Mall culture thrives and the site becomes a super regional shopping destination. Little Hollow is forgotten. This special virtual performance, presented by the Little Hollow High School Thespian Society, examines the resonant connections between the Eastland Mall and the bulldozed city on which it sits. Video Exhibit
  • 2015-2021: WHAT'S NEXT FOR LITTLE HOLLOW?

    2015-2021: WHAT'S NEXT FOR LITTLE HOLLOW?
    After the Eastland Mall, what used to be Little Hollow faces a pandemic and an uncertain future.
  • The Beginning of the End

    Many factors led to Eastland Mall’s decline during in the late 2000s, including national economic downturn, youth mischief and violence, and alleged ghost sightings. The number of retailers plummeted to less than a dozen by 2015 and is thus considered a dead mall. Target temporarily expressed interest in the 175,000 sq ft (16,300 m2) former Sears location, the last big-box anchor remaining at the mall, but later backed out.
  • Eastland Mall Demolished

    In April 2016, a local news station reported that tenants were being told by mall management to leave and that demolition plans were "in the works". Additionally, the previous month, there were multiple code violations found, some dangerous, including “approximately 100 pounds” of rotting bass that were discovered throughout the access hallways. In 2018, redevelopment plans were announced and the mall was bulldozed. Construction began in 2019, but was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Little Hollow Living History Museum Founded

    In 2019, citizen of bygone Little Hollow and amateur history enthusiast Evie Lavelle announced the construction of the Little Hollow Living History Museum. Located near the original site of the town square, this quaint local museum is designed to honor the citizens and history of the former town of Little Hollow. The museum is part of an ongoing effort by Ms. Lavelle to raise $9.1 million to reconstruct Little Hollow exactly as it was in the mid-20th century.
  • New Mall Construction Abandoned

    Construction on the new mixed-use project, including a newer, better mall, is halted due to COVID-19; with no public plans to resume work.
  • Searching for Little Hollow

    Searching for Little Hollow
    Due to the pandemic, outdoor activities regained popularity including the American pastime of "searching" for Lost Towns. Many tourists and would-be adventurers make their way to the Tennessee Valley to look for Little Hollow. In this clip from a Vanlife Youtube Channel, vanlife influencer River Sparrow Sage broadcasts from the parking lot of the recently torn down Eastland Mall.
    Video Exhibit
  • Museum Goes Virtual

    Museum Goes Virtual
    The museum did not open for visitors due to county-wide restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but pivoted to an online museum and interactive experience. In this extraordinary interview, Evie Lavelle continues her work to tell the true story of Little Hollow. The granddaughter of Little Hollow resident Annie Mae Hester tells her grandmother's story - in her grandmother's own words - and reveals the true cause of the Jigsaw Sugar Fire.
    Video Exhibit
  • 2021 and Beyond

    2021 and Beyond
    In this final exhibit, Evie Lavelle ponders what's next for Little Hollow and invites future generations to contribute to the museum.
    Video Exhibit