Photographs of the Ruskin Cooperative Association

Ruskin Colony at Yellow Creek, Tennessee
Indiana newspaperman Julius Augustus Wayland inaugurated the idea for the Ruskin Cooperative Association in 1881. His dream was realized in 1894 when the Ruskin Cooperative Association (named after English social critic John Ruskin) was established in Tennessee City. The colony soon moved to a site near a large cave on Yellow Creek that still bears the name Ruskin. Wayland led the colony for only a year, and tensions soon developed between those colonists who wanted to apply radical socialist ideals in order to bring about the "coming nation" and those who considered Ruskin a haven for such American concepts as political and economic independence. By 1899, this factionalism had caused the colony to disintegrate. The colony was put into receivership, sparking two years of lawsuits between the opposing groups over ownership and control of the Association. Although a few of the colony's members attempted to reestablish it in Georgia as the Ruskin Commonwealth, these efforts proved unsuccessful.