2018 visitors guide

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Carter County 2018


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Whether you are looking for adventure, relaxation, or an educational experience, we have you covered!

A Publication of the

Elizabethton Star

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Contents Census.....................................................6 Elizabethton & Carter County

State Parks...............................................7 Elizabethton and Carter County are home of two state parks – Roan Mountain and Sycamore Shoals. Both parks feature a bevy of activities for the general public during the year.

Community Parks.................................10 All across Elizabethton and Carter County, the general public can visit all the different community parks to spend times with family and friends.

Outdoor & Recreation..........................13 Home to some of the most picturesque terrain in the United States, check out the different outdoor and recreation activities offered in the community.

Shop, Dine & Play.................................19 Discover Historic Downtown Elizabethton

History...................................................26 Steeped in tradition, the historical aspects of Elizabethton and Carter County allow the public to step back in time and see how the community came to where it is today.

Events & Festivals..................................31 Never a dull moment in the area, be sure to check out the different events and festivals offered in Elizabethton and Carter County.

Civil War Trails......................................38


Designed by Delaney Scalf and Abby Morris-Frye


Robin Johnson


Abby Morris-Frye, Curtis Carden & Bryce Phillips

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Carter County Geography Quick Facts: Land Area, 2010: 341.2 Square Miles Population per square mile, 2010: 168.3 Metropolitan or Micropolitan Statistical Area: Johnson City, Tenn., Metro Area Climate: Average Temp - Monthly High: Jan. 41°F July 89°F Average Temp - Monthly Low: Jan. 27°F July 62°F Annual: 57° Annual Avg. Precipitation: 54” Annual Avg. Snowfall: 16.5” People Quick Facts: Population Estimates, July 1, 2017: 56,488 Age & Sex Persons under 5 years, percent: 4.6% Persons under 18 years, percent: 19.1% Persons 65 years and over, percent: 20.8% Female persons, percent: 51.0% Housing: Housing Units, July 1, 2016 (V2016): 27,856 Owner-occupied housing unit rate, 2012-2016: 71.1% Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 20122016: $111,500 Median selected monthly owner costs – with mortgage, 2012-2016: $870 Median selected monthly owner costs – without mortgage, 2012-2106: $301 Median Gross Rent, 2012-2016: $591 Families & Living Arrangements: Households, 2012-2016: 23,772 Persons per household, 2012-2016: 2.32 Living in same house 1 year ago, percent of persons age 1 year+, 2012-2016: 85.8% Language other than English spoken at home, percent of persons age 5 years+, 2012-2016: 2.0% Education: High school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+, 2012-2016: 81.3% Bachelor’s degree or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+, 2012-2016: 16.1% Economy: In civilian labor force, total, percent of population age 16 years+, 2012-2016: 52.6% In civilian labor force, female, percent of population age 16 years+, 2012-2016: 47.9% Income & Poverty: Median household income (in 2016 dollars) 2012Page 6 • Carter County Visitors Guide 2018

2016: $33,177 Per capita income in past 12 months (in 2016 dollar), 2012-2016: $20,118 Persons in poverty, percent: 21.5% Businesses: Total employer establishments, 2016: 705 Total employment, 2016: 8,995 Total annual payroll, 2016 ($1,000): 260,523 Total nonemployer establishments, 2015: 3,334

Elizabethton Geography Quick Facts: Land Area, 2010: 9.74 Square Miles Population per square mile, 2010: 1,455.9 Metropolitan or Micropolitan Statistical Area: Johnson City, Tenn., Metro Area People Quick Facts: Population Estimates, July 1, 2016: 13,854 Age & Sex: Persons under 5 years, percent: 4.0% Persons under 18 years, percent: 16.5% Persons 65 years and over, percent: 23.4% Female persons, percent: 52.1% Population Characteristics: Veterans: 4,487 Families & Living Arrangements: Households, 2012-2016: 5,883 Persons per household, 2012-2016: 2.18 Living in same house 1 year ago, percent of persons age 1 year+, 2012-2016: 81.1% Language other than English spoken at home, percent of persons age 5 years+, 2012-2016: 3.2% Education: High school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+, 2012-2016: 82.9% Bachelor’s degree or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+, 2012-2016: 19.5% Economy: In civilian labor force, total, percent of population age 16 years+, 2012-2016: 48.1% In civilian labor force, female, percent of population age 16 years+, 2012-2016: 44.3% Income & Poverty: Median household income (in 2016 dollars) 20122016: $30,649 Per capita income in past 12 months (in 2016 dollar), 2012-2016: $20,750 Persons in poverty, percent: 23.0%

State Parks

A replica of Fort Watauga stands on the grounds of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area.

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area

Sycamore Shoals State lator, met with Cherokee Historic Area is located in representatives at Sycamore Elizabethton. The state park Shoals near the present site preserves the history of not of Elizabethton. Henderson only the community but wanted to purchase a tract of events that helped to shape land in what is now Kentucky the state and nation. and Middle Tennessee, where Sycamore Shoals was the he planned to establish a foursite of the first permanent teenth colony. The venture American settlement outside posed several problems: the of the original 13 colonies Cherokees held the strongest and was the site of the first among competing claims to government formed indepenthe region, and there was no dently of the British crown in guarantee of British recognithe new country. The Watauga Displays in the museum at Sycamore Shoals State tion of the purchase since it Association, the first majorHistoric Park share the stories of some of the area’s first represented a violation of the ity-rule system of American residents, including notable figures the Reverend Doak Proclamation of 1763. Neverdemocratic government, was theless, Henderson had spent and gunpowder maker Mary Patton. founded here in 1772. the previous year organizing Prior to the American the Transylvania Company Revolution, Sycamore Shoals served as the site of the and conducting negotiations with the Cherokees. Four largest private real estate transaction in the history of the days after the conference began, the Cherokees agreed nation — The Transylvania Purchase. to the Sycamore Shoals Treaty, whereby they transferred The Transylvania Purchase occurred on March 14, 1775, to the Transylvania Company a tract of 20 million acres when Richard Henderson, a North Carolina land speculying north of the Cumberland River, southeast of the Carter County Visitors Guide 2018 • Page 7

Militia members raise a new flag representing America and its states over Fort Watauga during the Independence Celebration.

Ohio River, and west of the Cumberland Mountains, with a narrow access route extending from Sycamore Shoals to Cumberland Gap. In exchange, the Cherokees received trade goods valued, according to some scholars, at approximately ten thousand British pounds. During the American Revolution, Sycamore Shoals served as the mustering point for the Overmountain Men, a militia that formed in the fall of 1780 in response to a threat from British Major Patrick Ferguson. Ferguson had arrived in North Carolina in early September 1780 to recruit troops for the Loyalist militia and protect the flank of British General Lord Charles Cornwallis’ main force. Ferguson issued a challenge to the rebel militias to lay down their arms, or he would cross the mountains and “lay waste to their country with fire and sword.” The Overmountain Men militia gathered in response to Ferguson’s threat and began marching over the mountains. The Overmountain Men defeated Ferguson’s forces at the Battle of Kings Mountain, South Carolina, in a victory that has been called a turning point in the Revolutionary War by many noted historians. Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area features a Visitor’s Center with an interactive museum sharing the stories of both the Cherokee who lived here, the settlers who moved here over the mountains, and the significant events Page 8 • Carter County Visitors Guide 2018

that took place here. The park also features a recreation of Fort Watauga, which was constructed on the farm of the Talbott family and used by early settlers to survive raids and sieges by Cherokee warriors during the American Revolution. The grounds of the park feature picnic areas, gardens, and a walking trail that roams through the park and along the banks of the Watauga River. Throughout the year, Sycamore Shoals hosts numerous living history events with a resident group of reenactors who portray life on the American frontier. One of the largest events hosted by the park each year is the annual production of “Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals,” which is performed the last three weekends in July each year. Liberty! is the Official Outdoor Drama of Tennessee and is presented by a volunteer cast and crew to share the stories of Sycamore Shoals, those who lived here, and the events that transpired. Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area has two historic homes that serve as satellite campuses for the Park — The Historic John & Landon Carter Mansion and Sabine Hill. These historic homes have been preserved and restored to depict what life was like at different points in the community’s history.

Roan Mountain State Park

Roan Mountain State Park features thousands of acres dominated by a rich hardwood forest along rugged ridges to accommodate any outdoor enthusiast. Named the 2016 State Park of the Year by Tennessee State Parks, Roan Mountain State Park offers a variety of activities and lodging opportunities throughout the year. The facility features 30 cabins along with RV and tent camping at the 107 site campground. Each cabin has a front porch with rocking chairs, an outfitted kitchen, full bath, wood burning stove, and gas/electric heat. Each campsite features a grill and picnic table, and is located near a bathhouse with hot showers. Fishing tends to be a popular activity at the park with the majestic Doe River winding its way through the center of the park with a healthy population of trout. Roan Mountain State Park also features multiple trails to allow the public to enjoy the beauty of wildflowers and other pieces of the environment. The park also offers a variety of activities through the year, including the annual Rhododendron Festival. A pool is also available at the park and is open in the summer. Carter County Visitors Guide 2018 • Page 9

Community Parks Cat Island Park

Located along US Highway 19E in the eastern half of the City of Elizabethton, Cat Island Park is a 12.5 acre park that has two ball fields that host the Elizabethton/Carter County Youth Baseball and Softball Association, a tennis court facility, three pavilions and three separate playground areas. A popular area for birthday parties and other celebrations, Cat Island Park also features various walking trails and is near the Elizabethton Linear Path. Pavilions are for rent by contacting the Parks & Rec department. The park is also located near East Side Elementary School.

Harmon Park

Located on US Highway 19E beside the Elizabethton/ Carter County Chamber of Commerce, Harmon Park offers 1.9 acres of family-friendly fun. The neighborhood park hosts two large play areas, pavilions, picnic areas, a track and a multi-use field for any type of community event. In 2018, the City of Elizabethton constructed new pavilions and a restroom facility for the public. Pavilions are available for rent by contacting the Parks & Rec department.

Edwards Island

Edwards Island is a 3.2 acre park located along the Doe River just north of Covered Bridge Park. One of the key attractions of the park is Rotary Pavilion. Located in downtown, the small island that makes up this mini-park is one of the ten parks along the Elizabethton Linear Path. The park serves as a popular destination for various community and family events. The pavilion is available for rent by contacting the Parks & Rec department.

Kiwanis Park Located at the intersection of West G Street and Carter Boulevard, Kiwanis Park offers 3.1 acres of various activities to the public. The park has playground equipment, swings, a multi-use field, a basketball court, two pavilions with picnic tables. The larger pavilion – the Don Tetrick Pavilion – includes a large-multi purpose area with kitchenette and restrooms. The park serves as the home site for the Parks & Rec flag football league. Pavilions are for rent by contacting the Parks & Rec department. Page 10 • Carter County Visitors Guide 2018

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Covered Bridge Park Nestled beside the historic Covered Bridge, the city’s Covered Bridge Park is a 2.25 acre park that features a small fountain, two pavilions, a gazebo, picnic tables and multi-use stage. The picturesque park is located in downtown Elizabethton and provides a lunch-break getaway for citizens during hot summer days while attracting the public with different events and concert series. The pavilion and gazebo are for rent by contacting the Parks & Rec department.

Riverside Park Nestled beside the Watauga River, Riverside Park is 6.8 acres and features playground equipment, a pavilion and picnic tables. The Riverside Pavilion is located right behind Joe O’Brien Field and features a large covered shed that houses picnic tables, grills and electrical hooks. The park features plenty of green space for the public to enjoy on nice days. The pavilion is available for rent by contacting the Parks & Rec department.

Douglas Park Located at the intersection of Watauga Street and Church Street, historic Douglas Park offers 3.7 acres worth of fun. The neighborhood park has playground equipment, a basketball court, a large pavilion and a multiuse field. The Blue Grays Field, used for youth baseball, received historical designation from the state in 2016 for its historic impact with Negro League Baseball.

Walter Curtis Memorial Park Walter Curtis Memorial Park is located beside the Elizabethton Senior Citizens Center and the Carter County/Elizabethton Health Department along H Street and Holston Avenue. The 1.6 acre park includes two shuffleboard courts, walking paths, a pavilion and various benches. Page 12 • Carter County Visitors Guide 2018

The Laurels Picnic Area Part of the Cherokee National Forest, The Laurels has been a popular area since the early days in East Tennessee. The site is named for the native Rhododendron that thrives in the area, locally called “laurel.” The Civilian Conservation Corps helped construct the current facilities in the early 1930s. Today, it is a popular dayuse area, providing a nice shady place for family picnics and group gatherings. There are pavilions and picnic areas available for use. The area is for day use only and no overnight camping is allowed. The Laurels Picnic Area is located off of Laurels Road in the western portion of Carter County.

Lions Field Lions Field is located near Elk Avenue on the western part of Elizabethton. With 12 acres of land, the park is a host of the Elizabethton/Carter County Youth Baseball and Softball Association. The facility also serves as an entrance or exit for the Tweetsie Trail and includes parking and restrooms.

Mill Race Park Mill Race Park is located along the Doe River with Riverside Drive to the east and the Broad Street Bridge to the north. Just over .5 acres, this mini-park is another stop along the Elizabethton Linear Path.

Race Street Park Race Street Park is located near the intersection of Race Street and Pine Street. This 1.3 acre park is along the Elizabethton Linear Path.

Dixon Street Park Dixon Street Park is a 1.4 acre park bordered by Dixon Street and the Tweetsie Trail. There are no facilities located at this open grass park. Carter County Visitors Guide 2018 • Page 13

Outdoor & Recreation Frost Bite Race Sail boat enthusiasts hit Watauga Lake on New Year’s Day to take part in the Frost Bite Sail Boat Race, which takes it name from the frigid conditions that can sometimes be expected on the lake at that time of year.

Watauga Lake The local name of the Watauga Reservoir created by the Tennessee Valley Authority with the 1948 completion of the Watauga Dam. Fed by the Watauga and Elk Rivers, the lake has an average depth of 52 feet, and covers 10 square miles of a valley that was once the town of Butler, Tennessee. It is stocked by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Administration with Walleye, Rainbow Trout, Largemouth Bass, Bluegill and more. The Cherokee National Forest surrounds Watauga Lake in some of the most beautiful country in the Tennessee River watershed. The original town of Butler, Tennessee, now sits at the bottom of Watauga Lake.“New” Butler was relocated to higher ground above the summer pool edge of the TVA reservoir. According to lake expert Holly C Ward, Watauga Lake is the third cleanest in the country. More than half of Watauga Lake’s shoreline lies within the Cherokee National Forest and cannot be developed. Recreational uses include boating, fishing, water-skiing, and camping. There is no horse-power limit or speed limit for boats operating on the lake. Several fee-based public and private boat launch ramps provide access on the Hampton side of the reservoir. The release of impounded water from both TVA Watauga Dam and TVA Wilbur Dam provides additional downstream river recreational opportunities such as whitewater rafting, trout fishing, and kayaking on the Watauga River, and several Cherokee National Forest recreation areas are located along its shores.

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Laurel Falls Located along the Appalachian Trail between Hampton and Dennis Cove. Also known as Laurel Fork Falls, it is a fairly large waterfall in a deep gorge. It can be reached from the trail head in Dennis Cove or from the Laurel Falls trail head in Hampton, located along Laurel Fork on Highway 321. The Hampton trail merges with the Appalachian Trail, which splits off over the mountain toward Watauga Lake. Parts of the trail running along Laurel Fork lie on an old narrow gauge railroad bed. In places there are two parallel trails. The blue blazes indicate the alternate high water trail. The trail from Dennis Cove is shorter and mostly level except for a couple places, like the descent down to the falls. The Hampton trail is much longer, mostly level with a few climbs. It takes about an hour of walking to reach Laurel Falls from Hampton but it is a nice hike.

The Blue Hole A series of four waterfalls located on Holston Mountain in the Stoney Creek community of Carter County. The falls’ name, Blue Hole Falls, comes from the deep blue pool in front of the third waterfall, which is the main fall in the series. Nestled in the crags of Holston Mountain, the Blue Hole Falls are a treasure waiting to be found. To travel to the Blue Hole, take Highway 91 north through Stoney Creek and turn onto Panhandle Road. Shortly after the pavement turns into a gravel Forest Service road there is a small parking area on the left. Follow the trail down the hill to the falls. The hike is steep in some places so be prepared. This is a popular local gathering spot in the summer.

Jones Falls A high waterfall with a small stream, Jones Branch runs on to the Elk River near the state line after tumbling through this waterfall. It’s located near the Appalachian Trail close to the Buck Mountain area of Carter County. A side trail goes to the falls from the Appalachian Trail. The coordinates for Jones Falls are N36.20290° W81.98234°.

Dennis Cove Located in Hampton, the Dennis Cove Recreation area is a campground and picnic area nestled beside Laurel Fork Creek. The secluded campground is ideal for camping during the summer months due its altitude and forest surroundings. With 15 campsites, Dennis Cove is a great option for a group to reserve the whole campground for retreats and other events. Along with camping, Laurel Fork Creek is stocked with rainbow trout below the campground.

The main falls at The Blue Hole

Watauga Dam Campground Located in Carter County, the Watauga Dam Campground is located on the Watauga River far from heavy vehicle traffic. The campground has 29 RV sites, some located right on the river making it perfect for fishing trips.

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Joe LaPorte Recreation Facility The City of Elizabethton’s Joe LaPorte Recreation Facility is a 3.9-acre facility that is home to the Olympic-size Franklin Pool, acres of grass area for lounging and two covered pavilions inside a gated facility. Franklin Pool features two diving boards with the pool and a newly-constructed splash pad. The pool opens Memorial Day weekend and closes in the fall. Pavilions are for rent by contacting the Parks & Rec department.

Elizabethton Golf Course A treasure for any sports enthusiast is the Elizabethton Golf Course. Located on Buck Van Huss Drive near the west end of the City of Elizabethton, the 18-hole, par 72 course, spanning 6,470 yards allows patrons to experience the natural beauty of the community while fulfilling every golfing need. The facility, owned by the City of Elizabethton and operated by Hampton Golf, offers a variety of needs for any golfer. Elizabethton Golf Course offers a fully-stocked Pro Shop, practice amenities and regularly serves as a hub for various fundraising activities within the region.

Tweestie Trail

A rail-trail that follows the former ET&WNC (“Tweetsie”) Railroad right-of-way for 9.5 miles. It begins at Alabama Street in Johnson City and continues east through Elizabethton and the city’s downtown. It ends on Stateline Road near the Betsytowne Shopping Center. The trail has a compacted stone surface, a relatively flat grade, and crosses seven bridges. Along the way, travelers can rest and enjoy its beautiful, natural surroundings on several benches. A “trail extension” stretching all the way to Roan Mountain carries on from the end of the “Tweetsie” at Hatcher Lane in Elizabethton. Parking is available in Johnson City at the Memorial Park Community Center, Cardinal Park, and the Municipal and Safety Building (City Hall). In Elizabethton, parking is available at Elizabethton High School. Page 16 • Carter County Visitors Guide 2018

Elizabethton Linear Path The public can take in the sheer beauty of Elizabethton by walking the Elizabethton Linear Path. The roughly sixmile path spans from East Side Elementary to Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area. The Linear Path follows the scenic Doe River through the heart of Elizabethton and follows the Watauga River westward downstream to the historic area. The path features great fishing spots, bike racks, picnic tables and benches.

The Appalachian Trail... and Roan Mountain, an Appalachian Trail Community Opportunities for hiking in Carter County are numerous and varied with something for hikers of every skill level and interest. For the more avid hikers, the famed Appalachian Trail passes through the county with a number of landmarks, shelters, hostels, and incredible sights to see. The Appalachian Trail runs the length of the county. Some of the best scenery on the trail is found right here. The trail crosses Round Bald on the Roan Mountain, Yellow Mountain, Hump Mountain, then crosses Hwy 19E near the TennesseeNorth Carolina state line. It climbs and then follows the ridge of the aptly named White Rock Mountain while traversing some of the most remote areas in the county. The trail descends into Dennis Cove, past Laurel Falls and then across Hwy 321 at the Shook Branch

Recreation Area on Watauga Lake. Then it winds around the west end of Watauga Lake, crosses Watauga Dam and heads up the length of Iron Mountain. Numerous other trails connect to the AT and it’s easy to miss the many forks along the way. The white blazes on trees and rocks mark the AT way. Two blazes indicate a fork in the trail. In 2017, the village of Roan Mountain was designated as the 41st “Appalachian Trail Community” by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The designation marks Roan Mountain as a hiker-friendly community along the trail where hikers can stop to rest and re-supply. Being an Appalachian Trail Community also helps the town market itself to hikers who will be traveling through the area.

Horseback Riding

The Hinkle Branch Trailhead leads to 36 miles of interconnected trails (old road beds, single track trails, and Forest Service gated roads). Large, easily accessible parking lot. Directions: Elizabethton, TN off Highway 91. Heading away from Elizabethton the trailhead is just past Unaka Elementary School. Look for the large brown Forest Service trailhead sign on your left. Other trails include a six-mile long gated road with approximately two miles of singletrack connector trail. Parking for about five trucks and trailers is available. There is also a connector to the Little Stoney Creek Jeep Trail (ca. 3 miles long).Directions: From Elizabethton, take Highway 91 towards Stoney Creek, look for the large brown Forest Service sign which directs you to turn left onto Rainbow Circle.

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Cardens Bluff Campground Boasting 40 sites, Cardens Bluff Campground looks out over Watauga Lake. Opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating in the pristine waters of the Watauga Lake are located nearby. Access to the campground is located right off of Highway 321 in Carter County.

Watershed Bike Trails

Ranging from easy to difficult, the Watershed Bike Trails in Hampton are perfect for riders of any skill level. The bottom loops are ideal for novice and intermediate riders, while more seasoned riders can hit the challenging upper loop known as The Cat’s Pajamas. The trails cut through forests that open to beautiful river and mountain views.

Coon Den Falls

Twisting Falls

Known by some in the past as Bear Cave Falls. This is a very high solid rock wall with a minimal stream coming off the edge. It is reached by hiking from Dennis Cove. The trail is easily missed, located along the road between the National Forest campground and the Appalachian Trail/ Laurel Falls trail head. It is .6 miles from the trail head near a private property boundary. Laurel Fork runs along the road at this point. The slope up to the falls is moderate. In the winter the tall rock face becomes a wall of ice.

Located in one of the more remote areas of Carter County past Nowhere Ridge. That’s right-these falls are beyond nowhere, which isn’t far from the Avery County North Carolina line on the Elk River near the Poga community. It’s reached by taking Poga Road off 321 in the Elk Mills area, to Clawson Road, then to Dark Ridge Road. Park near a barn and then walk a slow steep grade to the falls. There have been a number of injuries at this popular destination for locals and out of town visitors, so be careful!

Ripshin Lake

Waterfalls of Laurel Fork

A much smaller nearby lake that is not part of the TVA system is located 6 mi (9.7 km) SW of Roan Mountain. Although this is not the place for a family outing or a picnic, it is a wonderful place to drive through and admire the scenery. This peaceful but restricted area is almost completely privately owned land and is patrolled periodically by local owners. However, a main road passes within just a few feet of the lake and especially in the fall of the year, lends itself to some incredible photo opportunities. The road parallels “Roaring Creek” which is a beautiful mountain stream that winds down the mountain with one small waterfall after another. The creek cannot be seen in the summer due to the foliage but when the leaves fall, the views are spectacular. Page 18 • Carter County Visitors Guide 2018

Forest Service Trail 39 runs along the mountain stream water of Laurel Fork above the campground in Dennis Cove. Special trout regulations apply to this section of Laurel Fork above Dennis Cove. The trail head is along the bridge right before the Forest Service campground. It involves several crossings of the creek before reaching these beautiful waterfalls with large splash pools. You reach a single fall first, then a short distance up the trail is a triple cascade. Above these falls the trail runs on to Frog Level. Frog Level is a relatively flat area of land set deep in the mountains. It’s another special place. The change in topography to flatness seems odd. The stream becomes calmer and more like a lowland creek. It’s the opposite of what might be expected from ascending a mountain stream.

Discover Historic Downtown Elizabethton Picture yourself strolling slowly through the streets of downtown. A cool breeze floats in, slowly rocking the hanging store signs and whirling down the shady walkways. Rays of sun glisten on the one-way streets and dancing spectrums of light play on store windows. You dip in and out of stores brimming with treasures and boutiques with unique items only found in the mountains of Tennessee. Rumbles of hunger sound from your empty stomach. You take a seat in a homey diner and are served southern fried chicken and side fixin’s like Carter County Visitors Guide 2018 • Page 19

grandma used to make. After lunch, visit the historic Bonnie Kate Theater. Your day in downtown continues with a walk along the trickling Doe River. Kids shed their shoes and wade happily in the cool, shallow waters. Explore Downtown Elizabethton and experience the sights and sounds of life in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Not many places have a downtown like the one found in Car ter County. This pedestrianfriendly district has minimal traffic, which makes crossing the street a breeze. For a front row parking spot, pull into one of the many parallel spaces. For those of you that are parallel-parking challenged, public parking areas are conveniently located on adjacent roadways. The old-style architecture of downtown is magnificent. Take notice of the towering brick buildings, antique store signs and old Victorian homes gracing the area. The Cruise-In car show, held every Saturday at 5 p.m. from April through October, is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike along the streets of downtown. Be sure to check our website for other upcoming events and celebrations held in downtown, such as the Covered Bridge Celebration, 4th of July Celebration, Octoberfest, Trick or Treating, Christmas Parade and more.

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The Covered Bridge


uilt in 1882, the Doe River Covered Bridge in Elizabethton is believed to be the oldest such bridge in the state still used daily. Whether you are seeking a casual stroll, an opportunity to feed the ducks, or a picnic alongside the Doe River, the Doe River Covered Bridge is a must-see when visiting Carter County! In 2016 it was named the Top Covered Bridge in the United States by readers of USA Today after receiving the most votes out of a pool of 20 covered bridge nominees. Constructed at a cost of $3,000, the noble bridge spans the river for 134 feet, resting on earth and stone abutments. The original structure was built entirely of wood, with steel spikes used to fasten together the massive oak pieces used in the floor. The Doe River Covered Bridge, a historical treasure, is one of two such bridges identified by the Tennessee Historical Commission marker, as well as included in the national Registry of Historic Sites.


ituated in front of the Carter County Courthouse at what was once the heart of downtown Elizabethton, a towering white obelisk that has stood for more than 100 years serves as a monument to the veterans of all wars. The Carter County Veterans Monument is one of Elizabethton’s more recognizable landmarks. With its position at the intersection of East Elk Avenue and Main Street, The Monument, as it is commonly referred to, is typically either the first or the last thing visitors to downtown see. But the Monument is more than just a landmark in the historic district, it is a lasting tribute to the hundreds of Carter County residents who have donned a uniform in service to their country. Construction on the Monument began in the spring of 1912 and finished in 1913. The cost to construct the monument was around $500, money that was donated by individuals in the community. The Monument was designed to be similar to an Egyptian obelisk. The Monument was made of river rock and hand-mixed concrete. The outer surface was covered with smooth plaster to resemble granite. Page 26 • Carter County Visitors Guide 2018

Elizabethton Walking Tour


ith such a long history and a community dedicated to preserving it, there are many important historical structures still in use in Elizabethton. From the homes of some of the towns notable citizens in days gone by to places of worship, and from the seat of county government to buildings where children were educated, there are many historic buildings to see. The Elizabethton Walking Tour provides visitors and locals alike the chance to walk in the footsteps of history as they learn the stories of some of the town’s oldest buildings. The Elizabethton Walking Tour is self-guided. Stop by the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce to pick up your brochure and map and get ready to start your adventure.

Veterans Monument

The Miller Farmstead at Roan Mountain State Park Nestled away atop Roan Mountain is a little farm with a big history. The Dave Miller Farmstead, part of Roan Mountain State Park, serves as a living museum to a past age — a time when farming and raising livestock was how many people lived. The farmstead was first settled by Dave and Louisa Miller and their family in 1870. The farmhouse which currently stands on the site was built by Dave Miller and his son Nathaniel “Nat” Miller in 1908. The farmstead is now used as an interpretive site by the Roan Mountain State Park to educate visitors on the lifestyles of the people of this area of the Appalachian Mountains. The Miller Farmstead is open Wednesday through Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day and then on weekends in October. In 2014 the Miller Farmstead was added to both the State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.

The Historic John & Landon Carter Mansion Built between 1775-80 by John and Landon Carter, the Carter Mansion is the oldest standing frame house in the state of Tennessee. Both John and Landon were strong business, political and military leaders in the Watauga Settlement in the late 18th century. The interior of the home is noted for it’s elaborate architecture which include hand carved panels, crown molding, and chair railing. Considered the oldest paintings known in the state, two over-mantle paintings can be seen over the fireplace in Carter’s office and upstairs in the master bedroom. Prior to Carter’s arrival, Native Americans lived at this site as documented by archaeological studies in 1923,

the 1970’s, and more recently in the Fall of 2016. Three centuries before Carter’s arrival, evidence suggests that there was a thriving town and community here. For thousands of years before that, Native Americans used this land for seasonal camp sites. The Carter Mansion is managed by Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park and offers tours and special events throughout the year, which include Christmas at the Carter Mansion in early December and the Carter Mansion Celebration in the spring. The Carter Mansion is a satellite campus of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area. For more information, call Sycamore Shoals at 423-543-5808. Carter County Visitors Guide 2018 • Page 27

Veterans Walk of Honor and War Memorial Located in Historic Downtown Elizabethton, the public can take a walk through history to remember the men and women that have served in the United States armed forces. The Veterans Walk of Honor features a walk beside engraved bricks highlighting local community members that served in a variety of ways to protect the country. Right across the road is the War Memorial with names of veterans that served in each war time era. Both areas are maintained by city officials and volunteers to showcase the veterans in a beautiful and respectable manner.

Sabine Hill

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Sabine Hill was built around 1818 by Mary “Polly” Patton Taylor, the widow of Brigadier General Nathaniel Taylor. In 1809, Nathaniel bought 381 acres of land from Joseph Tipton Sr., which included the site of Sabine Hill.Taylor continued to purchase land in the area, and at one point he and Mary owned around 3,000 acres, which they named “Happy Valley.” Nathaniel quickly became a leader in the community as well as on the business front. He was appointed as a Justice of the Peace when the community was still part of North Carolina, and he holds the distinction of being the first Sheriff of Carter County. Nathaniel became one of the wealthiest men in Carter County with business ventures that included the manufacture of bar iron, flour, and gunpowder. In addition to his local commitments, Nathaniel also served in the military and was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in 1804 and commanded a regiment of Tennessee Troops. During the War of 1812, he and the East Tennessee Militia served under General Andrew Jackson in Mobile, Ala. Sadly, Nathaniel passed away in February of 1816. As Nathaniel was involved in local politics, so too were many of his descendants — perhaps most notably brothers Robert (Bob) Love Taylor and Alfred (Alf) Alexander Taylor. In 1886, the brothers ran against each other in seeking election to the Governor’s seat in a political campaign which became known as the “War of the Roses.” The home was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1974 and in 2017 was designated as a State Historic Site. Sabine Hill is now a satellite campus of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area.

The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail (OVHT) is part of the U.S. National Trails System. It recognizes the Revolutionary War Overmountain Men, Patriots from what is now East Tennessee who crossed the Great Smoky Mountains and then fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina. The OVHT follows the route from Abingdon, Virginia at the Abingdon Muster Grounds, fording the Watauga River at Sycamore Shoals through present day Elizabethton, Tennessee, crossing the Doe River twice near both Hampton, Tennessee and Roan Mountain, Tennessee, and ascending over the steep Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, on through South Carolina to the site of the Battle of Kings Mountain now within Kings Mountain National Military Park. Fifty-seven miles (92 km) of OVHT are officially developed for public use, and development continues on the remaining sections.The official sections of the trail were established through agreements with current landowners and often have overlapping designations. All officially certified segments are identified through the use of signs displaying the trail logo (an Overmountain man in profile on a brown and white triangle) or a white triangular blaze. A parallel Commemorative Motor Route travels along

state highways and, in some stretches, actually travels over the old historic roadway. The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail is a cooperative effort of the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Overmountain Victory Trail Association, local governments, local citizens’ associations, local historical societies and the states of Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. In 2017, the National Park Service placed a special marker at Sycamore Shoals marking it as a significant site along the National Historic Trail honoring the muster, march, and victory of the Overmountain Men during the American Revolution.

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Look What’s NEW at Farmer John’s!



OPEN 9AM - 5:30 PM DELI OPEN MON THRU SAT 11AM - 5:30PM Page 30 • Carter County Visitors Guide 2018

Events & Festivals

Carter County Car Club Cruise In

Covered Bridge Celebration Thousands flock to downtown Elizabethton each June for the annual Covered Bridge Celebration offered by the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce. Organized during the month of June, award-winning musicians, vendors and others set up on Elk Avenue Bridge and Covered Bridge Park to offer family-friendly entertainment. A children’s area is also provided to give joy back to the youth in attendance.

Over the summer months, Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department offers the annual Covered Bridge Jams concert series. Starting in June, various musicians and bands take to the mainstage at Covered Bridge Park to perform each Saturday evening for droves of attendees. Different musical genres perform during the series, including country, bluegrass, blues, rock and gospel.

Founded in the 1980s, the Carter County Car Club has served the community needs by offering car shows through Historic Downtown Elizabethton. Car enthusiasts from across the country descend upon downtown through the spring and summer months to showcase their vehicles and share in fellowship with one another. The event is used as a way to gather funds for children’s charities and brings additional foot traffic to the various shops located downtown.

Covered Bridge Jams

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Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals

Each year, during the last three weekends of July, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area goes back in time as a volunteer cast of actors and crew members present Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals. This annual production is the Official Outdoor Drama of the State of Tennessee. Liberty! tells the stories of the earliest settlers in the region and some of the important historic events that transpired here. Nationally significant events that helped to shape the future of our nation

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before, during, and after the American Revolution are presented in an engaging, exciting, and entertaining fashion. The drama is set in front of the full-scale replica of Fort Watauga on the grounds of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area. Liberty! tells the stories of these important days of American history as well as demonstrating the life of pioneers in a frontier settlement. Moreover, it gives faces to the names we see on many of our street signs and other local area designations. Liberty! runs Thursdays-Saturdays during the last three weekends of July. For more information, contact Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area at 423-543-5808 or check out the website www.TheLibertyDrama. com.

Native American Festival Each year in June, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area hosts a weekendlong festival celebrating the history and culture of the Native Americans who lived here before European settlers came to the region. This educational event provides the opportunity for our visitors to experience many facets of Native American culture, particularly that of the Cherokee. This weekend-long festival features traditional and contemporary arts and crafts, traditional Native American song and dance, Cherokee storytelling and legends, Native American flute, Cherokee language workshops, and craft demonstrations and sales. A unique feature of the Native American Culture festival is our educational/ demonstration area, located within Fort Watauga. The dance circle is located in the center of the fort, where the popular traditional dance and drum performances take place. In addition, flute music, storytelling, lectures, and so much more take place within the circle, which share native culture and history with our visitors. For more information, contact Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area at 423-543-5808. Carter County Visitors Guide 2018 • Page 33

Annual Rhododendron Festival in Roan Mountain

Each year in June, members of the Roan Mountain Citizens Club host a two-day event to celebrate one of the most gorgeous displays of natural beauty available in the country — the blooming of the Rhododendron Gardens atop Roan Mountain. The Rhododendron Festival takes place the third weekend of June in Roan Mountain State Park. The Citizens Club first hosted the festival in June 1947 and over the years the event has continued to grow. Originally they held the festival at the top of the mountain at the Rhododendron Gardens but as the event grew it moved to Roan Mountain State Park to accommodate the growing festival. The two-day event features handmade crafts, food, and a variety of traditional music plus an array of old-time folkway demonstrations of traditional arts and skills. Over 100 arts and crafts vendors. A variety of food available. Visit the world’s largest natural rhododendron gardens atop 6000-ft Roan Mountain. Hike the Appalachian Trail as it runs along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. Learn about our nation’s history as you relax beside cool streams. Camp or stay in a rustic cabin. Swim. Play tennis. For more information, visit the Roan Mountain Citizens Club website at www.roanmountain.com. Page 34 • Carter County Visitors Guide 2018

BBQ, Blues and Brews Festival Hosted by the Elizabethton/Carter County Community Foundation, the event brings in vendors, music and other types of fun for the public at Covered Bridge Park. Area restaurants attend the event to go for the “Best in Show” competition. Select craft beers are also available throughout the event. Proceeds raised from the event go to benefit the local Bonnie Kate Theater.

Naturalist Rallies

During each season, outdoor enthusiasts are invited to make the drive to Roan Mountain State Park for the annual Naturalist Rallies. Organized by the Friends of Roan Mountain, different programs are hosted across the park to encourage the love of outdoors. Different agencies also stop by during the events to offer information and other details about the area. Youth rallies are also offered over the year. Visit friendsofroanmtn.org to learn more about the different events.

Farmers Markets

Roan Mountain and the City of Elizabethton offered Farmer’s Market during the warmer months as a way to encourage healthier lifestyles and give local farmers a chance to sell their products. Roan Mountain’s event is held at the Roan Mountain Community Park while the Elizabethton event is held in the First Christian Church parking lot located, beside the city police and fire departments, in downtown Elizabethton. Information on both markets is available on social media.

Fourth of July Boat Parade Every year around the Fourth of July, local boat owners dress their vessels in patriotic decorations as they participate in the Watauga Lake Fourth of July Boat Parade. Spectators line the shore to watch the boats pass by.

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Elizabethton Twins The Elizabethton Twins are a minor league baseball team of the Appalachian League and a rookie-level farm club of the Minnesota Twins. They are located in Elizabethton, Tennessee, and are named for their major league affiliate. The team plays its home games at Joe O’Brien Field which opened in 1974 and seats 2,000 fans. The Twins have won the Appalachian League Championship on 10 occasions (1978, 1984, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2012, and 2017).

Roan Groan Bicycle Race Boasting the only category 1 finish in the Eastern United States, the Roan Groan is a grueling race that draws cyclists from around world to Roan Mountain and Elizabethton. Featured in the spring, the race has riders traversing downtown Elizabethton before taking off towards Carver’s Gap, located atop Roan Mountain. The race’s path covers over 6,000 feet of climbing and finishes at one of the prettiest views in Carter County.

Jason Witten Camp Every year in Elizabethton, Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten hosts a free football camp open to kids ages 7-18. The camp features instruction from Witten and other players and coaches.

Downtown Elizabethton Art Walk The public is invited throughout the year to participate during downtown’s art walk. Events typically include children’s areas, performances inside Bonnie Kate Theater, support from downtown businesses and the ability to perform chalk art on the sidewalk as a way to promote arts and culture in the community.

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Elizabethton Christmas Tree Lighting Elizabethton’s annual Frasier Fir tree lighting helps usher in the holiday season. Community groups come together to celebrate the upcoming Christmas season.

Roan Mountain Christmas Tree Lighting

Citizens from Roan Mountain celebrates Christmas by joining together at Roan Mountain Community Park for the annual community tree lighting.

Downtown Christmas Parade Organized by the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce, floats descend upon downtown Elizabethton for the annual holiday parade. The Christmas Parade serves as the unofficial kickoff for Christmas in Elizabethton. Carter County Visitors Guide 2018 • Page 37

Civil War Trails

A great way to tour the area is to follow the Tennessee Civil War Trails, a historic marker program that identifies both great campaigns and lesser-known Civil War places. TheTrail includes interpretive markers and an online statewide driving tour, and links Tennessee’s sites to Trails programs in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. Sites in and near Carter County include: Roan Mountain State Park, where Samuel P. Carter, a Union general, raised troops in the area and participated in burning railroadbridges in the area. Elizabethton, near the home of Admiral and General Samuel P Carter, the only officer to wear two stars in both the U.S. Army and Navy. Carter remained with the Union when war broke out and served in east Tennessee. He later commanded the XXIII Corps during the 1863 Knoxville Campaign. Here turned to naval service after the war. Blountville Three Tennessee Civil War Trails signs describe the action here at the Battle of Blountville Sept. 22, 1863, during a battle for control of the vital Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. Trail signs are located at the Union and Confederate positions and at the Sullivan County Courthouse, the interior of which was burned during this action.Other related Blountville sites are at the Old Deery Inn site at 3400 Block of Highway 126, and Cannonball House at 3382 Highway 126, in Blountville. Women and children sought shelter at the Old Deery Inn when the fighting broke out. One early historian wrote that they were in more danger than the soldiers.The Cannonball House house stood between the lines as fighting swirled around it during the battle. While many buildings in the area were destroyed, this one survived, still bearing the scars of the battle. In Johnson City, the Tipton-Haynes Historic Site was the home of Landon Carter Haynes, a Confederate senator and supporter of states’ rights in an area laced with strong pro-Union sentiment. He served in the Confederate congress 1862-1865. After the war he was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson but moved away, fearing reprisals from local citizens.

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