Johnson City is located in northeastern Tennessee just to the south of Virginia and to the west of North Carolina. It is nestled up against the Cherokee National Forest; if so inclined, you can strap on your backpack and walk into this pristine wilderness in a matter of minutes.
The wilderness spreads all the way into North Carolina where it is known as the Pisgah National Forest. Johnson City Tennessee is one of the primary gateways to this area, which provides numerous outdoor activities attracting thousands of visitors each year. There are scenic drives throughout much of the region; great campgrounds, including RV park resorts and primitive camping sites; sparkling lakes and rivers where there is boating, fishing, swimming, and whitewater rafting (the whitewater events of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games were held here on the Ocoee River); and miles and miles of hiking trails.
The settlement was originally a railway station called Johnson's Depot when it was first founded in 1856 at the junction of three rail lines. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Johnson City later was home to two narrow gauge lines that ran sightseeing excursions through the wilderness area, including the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains.
The region from Johnson City Tennessee north to the town of Bristol has long been a center of what is known as "old time music," a genre of Appalachian folk music that has its main origins in folk music of the British Isles (particularly Scotland). Small groups of musicians generally play guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and resonator guitar. Other instruments might include dulcimer, jug, washtub, washboard, harmonica, accordion, and even spoons. This is one of the most American of music forms that contributed to bluegrass, jazz, blues, and folk. Historic Fountain Square in the center of town is often host to street entertainers, and there are summer music festivals here. The end of April sees the Down Home Little Chicago Blues Festival.
Other Johnson City attractions include the Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site. This was a farm originally established by the Tipton family in the late eighteenth century, and later enlarged by the Haynes family. It includes eleven buildings, including the original house built in 1784, a smokehouse, loom house, pigsty, log barn, corncrib, and the home of a Haynes family slave. About five miles north of the city is the little town of Piney Flats, home to the Rocky Mount Living History Museum, where costumed interpreters conduct tours and demonstrations in and around the buildings of another eighteenth-century farm settlement.
There are a number of Johnson City Tennessee hotels and motels, including standards like Quality Inn, Best Western, Hampton Inn, Super 8, Red Roof Inn, and others. There are also many unique bed and breakfast inns. For something very unusual, you can try the Cherokee Mountain Llama Bed and Breakfast, at 201 Charlie Hicks Road off Exit 31of the Interstate 181. Here, you can enjoy a traditional gourmet country breakfast and get acquainted with the inn's five curious llamas. A few miles away in the town of Hampton in the heart of the national forest, you can stay in traditional southern elegance in the beautiful Butler Mansion. It is located in the center of the small town at 206 Main Street.
Image: ke9v (flickr)