Our History

“Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.” Psalm 102:18

Since its inception, Doe River Gorge has been a series of God’s miraculous provisions. He has provided in ways and at times that could only have come from His hand. He has done “exceeding abundantly beyond all that we could have asked or thought…to Him be the glory forever and ever.”

This written history is meant to glorify God and Him only. Names of people He has used to accomplish His will are simply servants who have been honored and humbled to be a part of His work. This history is still being written and will not be complete until He returns.

Since his college years, Terry Maughon had a dream of beginning a new ministry in East Tennessee for the purpose of reaching young people for Christ. During his years of training at Moody Bible Institute and working in camps during the summer, his dream was greatly enhanced. In 1981, working as a youth minister for Grace Fellowship Church in Johnson City, Tennessee he began conducting summer camp programs using rented facilities. As these programs grew from year to year, others began to see the need and value for an expanded ministry and a new facility.

Two of those who would become instrumental in the formation and development of Doe River Gorge were Dr. Larry Graham and Mr. Jeff Blackburn. For several years, both of these gentlemen had encouraged Terry to pursue his vision and had joined with him in praying for God’s will and timing. Through the encouragement and prayer support of Larry and Jeff, as well as that of many friends, God began to work in miraculous ways to bring this dream to reality.

In 1985, Terry and a friend, Gary Gilliam, hiked the Doe River Gorge. As they walked along the old railroad bed they were awed by the beauty and majesty of God’s creation as well as the potential to develop programs within the Gorge for the purpose of reaching young people for Christ. When they got to the second trestle bridge, Terry and Gary sat down on the bridge and prayed, “Lord, if there is to ever be a new camp in East Tennessee, it should be here.”

A Dream Becomes Reality

In July of 1987, two and one-half miles of property in the scenic Doe River Gorge were purchased at a cost of only one-fourth its appraised value. A new non-profit organization was formed, money began to be raised, and the dream of creating a place to share the love of Christ with young people was on its way to becoming a reality.

Although weekly Bible studies and small weekend retreats began almost immediately there was much work to be done before full-scale summer programs could begin. Site plans had to be developed; buildings and recreational facilities needed to be built; programs had to be planned and staff had to be hired. In addition, the facility had to be maintained. With no money for maintenance, much less development, the task seemed impossible. Many said that it would never happen. But God delights in doing the impossible and almost immediately He went to work.

Terry tells the story  

  • Property acquired at one-fourth its appraised value
  • Small group retreats begin
  • An effort to develop a financial base of support is begun

Missionary Tech Team is acquired to develop long-range site plan

  • Long-range plan is completed
  • Metric Constructors agree to build mountain, ball fields, lake, roads, plaza, grading of plateau for hobo condos – all for free!
January: CSX Transportation donates five railroad boxcars

October: Metric Constructors completes its projects at the Gorge

April: The Feldspar Corporation donates 2000 tons of white sand for the lake

July: Lake opens

November: Office unit is purchased and reassembled at the Gorge.

December: Terry leaves his position as youth pastor at Grace Fellowship Church to go full-time at DRG.

Duke Ingram, Buddy Fontaine, Mike Bauguess, and others head up campaign to raise money so that week long programs can begin.


January: Inmates from the Carter County Work Camp begin renovation of railcars into “Hobo Condos”.

April: Tepee Village is built.

June: First summer of week-long programs known as Adventure Quest begins … 7 years after purchase of property.

  • Over 1 mile of railroad track restored with new cross ties
  • 40 acres of pasture land acquired between main campus and Miracle Mountain
  • Footbridge built across river to access cabins  
  • Large riverfront cabin built on south side of Doe River
  • Horses added to programming
  • Antique steam locomotive “Rachel” arrives on loan from Gaylord Entertainment  
  • Two small riverfront cabins built on south side of Doe River
  • Roof extension added to maintenance building by volunteers from Maury Baptist Association, Columbia, TN


Single lake zipline converted to triple zipline  

Exponential gap year program launched with 5 male interns and a resident advisor.
Kawasaki Mule 4010 ATV donated by local physician, Arnold Hopland, M.D.
  • Acquired donated climbing tower (formerly located on the campus of ETSU)
  • Exponential program expanded to include female interns
Yamaha Golf Cart donated by former board member, Ted Rich.

Added the Outdoor Education program focused on school field trips.

Acquired 15 acres of land between Miracle Mountain and the frontage highway.  This property provides necessary area as well as several structures that will facilitate the development and operation of The Christmas Train.


Replaced aging dining tent with larger frame tent.

Launched Family Camp programs to replace Adventure Quest, cancelled for the summer because of Covid-19 pandemic.

Launched Maze of Life corn maze in October.

Listed the caboose and a boxcar as airbnb lodging.


Mead Tractor supplied the use of a new John Deere mower and Gator on an annual basis.


Replaced the aging big top tent with a new tent.

Added Human Foosball to activity area in plaza.

Volunteer, Randy Holland, installed signage campus-wide.


RV park area renovated with 50 amp service and landscaping

Christmas Train construction begins

1995 – 2023

6,577 youth trust Jesus Christ as their personal Savior
Thousands of others make decisions that redirect the course of their lives