What to See at the New Scopes Trial Museum

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Photo courtesy of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

Dayton, Tennessee, made national news in 1925 with the infamous Scopes Trial. In the Rhea County Courthouse, reporters from around the country (not to mention crowds of Tennesseans) watched former U.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan and well-known attorney Clarence Darrow clash over religion, science and the legality of Tennessee’s new law against teaching evolution – the law that science teacher John Scopes intentionally violated.

While many people know these names, they may not know about the events that led up to the trial or its historical significance. In 2018, the Rhea County Historical and Genealogical Society renovated the Scopes Trial Museum, located inside the courthouse where the trial took place, so that new generations of Tennesseans can connect with this important piece of our state’s, and our nation’s, history.

Head to Dayton between July 19 and 28 and you can attend the annual Scopes Festival, which features concerts, vendors and a historically accurate dramatization of the trial. Visit rheacountyheritage.com/scopes-museum-restoration and scopesfestival.com for more information.

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