PETROS, Tenn. — Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Morgan County once held some of the worst criminals in Tennessee. The historic penitentiary is now a tourist attraction and several former inmates are the tour guides. 

That includes the likes of George Wyatt Jr., who spent nearly a decade behind bars there for blowing up a country club while trying to break into a safe.

 In 1984, Wyatt was a security guard at a Cumberland County country club and desperate for money.

"I was dumb. I blew up a country club back home in Lake Tansi in Cumberland County. I blew it up for the money," former inmate, George Wyatt Jr. said. 

Because he was a security guard, he knew exactly where the safe was. His attempt to crack it open was a success -- a very loud and destructive success.

"I used 16 sticks of dynamite and two gallons of gas. The blast was so powerful it blew 75 yards this way. Thank God it didn't go this way because there was a condominium of people there. I would've been on death row," Wyatt said.

Wyatt initially got away with thousands of dollars, but was soon caught. He was taken to Brushy Mountain immediately and originally sentenced to serve 10 years of time behind bars.

"This is my cell. This is B block," he said. 

When he arrived, Wyatt soon learned he wasn't anything like the criminals typically holed up in Brushy -- which infamously held some of Tennessee's most remorseless killers and was once labeled 'the worst thing in the state' of Tennessee.

After the Civil War, Tennessee and other southern states were broke. So, convicts were for rent. The state leased inmates to private companies for mining coal and other hard labor. The system made the government money. It also saved money because the state did not have to build prisons.

The inmates didn't take it easy on him at first.  

"Look at the fresh meat. Look at the fresh meat. I thought I would end up dying in here," he said. 

Wyatt was eventually released early on good behavior after he served two and a half years. It was an experience that changed his whole approach on life. 

"To this day when I on the street, I'm doing this number here," he said looking around cautiously. "It's sad that until this day I'm watching my back."

The prison shut down in 2009 after 113 years and was recently revived as a historic tourist attraction and distillery. 

PETROS, Tenn. - The place where the worst criminals in Tennessee counted the days to get out is now the site where tourists have been counting the days to get in. After closing for the winter, Monday, April 1 was opening day at the Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary and distillery in Morgan County.

Now decades later, 'the worst thing in Tennessee' has been transformed from a place that most people wanted to stay far away from, into a place that people want to travel from far and wide to see -- and George Wyatt Jr. is one of their tour guides. 

He said his time spent behind the prison walls taught him a lot, and now all he wants to do is help others stay out of trouble. 

"I feel like this is my calling. I really enjoy it. I enjoy my job, I really do," he said.  

Officials at Brushy Mountain said it's people like George that keep people coming back. George says if it's his stories people want to hear, he has plenty more to tell.