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Day 64 – East Tennessee Border Tour

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Day 64 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

Since the dogs spent most of the afternoon and evening in VANilla out of the rain, our first stop on the East Tennessee border this morning was at a local park in Elizabethton. We stretched our legs on a mile walk along the Watauga River. Along with the walking trail, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park showcased the reconstructed Fort Watauga and related history. 

Being the center of the Watauga Settlement, the first permanent settlement west of the 13 colonies, this area is considered significant in Tennessee history.  The organization of the Watauga Association (1772), the Transylvania Purchase (1775), the Siege of Fort Watauga (1776), and the Overmountain Muster (1780) all took place on these grounds.

Watauga River on the East Tennessee border

The Watauga Association

The Watauga Association was established when the settlers here realized they hadn’t settled in Virginia and were living under the authority of the royal government and beyond the Indian Treaty line.  They formed their own government under the Watauga Compact, the first constitution west of the Appalachians.

The Transylvania Purchase

The Transylvania Purchase, the largest private real estate deal in US history, was provided for in the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals.  A North Carolinian judge formed a company to purchase 20,000,000 acres from the Cherokees to found a new colony, Transylvania.  The Purchase opened up most of Kentucky for settlement.

The Siege of Fort Watauga

The Siege of Fort Watauga took place in 1776 when the Indians became concerned with the white settlers’ expansion and gave the Wataugans 20 days to leave their land or fight.  The Wataugans asked for more time and built a fort.  The Indians, enraged upon hearing of the fortification, planned a surprise attack on Wataugans. A Cherokee woman married to a white man warned of the attack, so the Wataugans were able to flee their homes and take refuge in the fort.  After three hours of battle, the Indians settled down into a loose siege.

Fort Watauga on the East Tennessee border

The Overmountain Muster

The Overmountain Muster occurred in 1780 when Britain’s Cornwallis attempted to invade North Carolina.  Cornwallis ordered Ferguson to protect his left flank.  Ferguson threatened the Wataugan leaders who ordered their militia to the Shoals.  1,100 men from Virginia and North Carolina marched over the Blue Ridge Mountains and joined additional militia units from both the Carolinas and Georgia.  The growing Patriot army chased Ferguson off and Cornwallis was forced to postpone his raid of North Carolina.  This Patriot victory was a turning point in the Revolutionary War.

The Mansion

After our visit to the Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, we visited “The Mansion”, a historic site I stumbled across yesterday. The Mansion, built by John Carter in 1775, is the oldest frame house in Tennessee.  John Carter was elected the Chairman of the Watauga Association in May of 1772.

The Mansion on East Tennessee border

Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park

From the Mansion, we continued driving along the East Tennessee border. After passing through Jonesborough (Tennessee’s oldest town), we visited Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park.  Before exploring the park, I spent another hour trouble shooting iPhone problems with Applecare and setting an appointment at the Apple Store in Knoxville (69 miles away) for the evening.

During the last of the daylight hours, I finally walked the dogs around the park and visited the site where Davy Crockett was born.  A reconstructed cabin as well as a monument honoring Crockett as a pioneer, patriot, soldier, explorer, trapper, state legislator, congressman, and martyr (at the Alamo) marked the area.

Davy Crockett Birthplace Memorial

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site

From Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park, we continued a bit further south on the East Tennessee border to Greenville to the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.  The site includes two Johnson homes with 80% original furnishings as well as Johnson’s tailor shop complete with his shears, thimble, and flatiron. 

Johnson’s tailor shop became a gathering place to discuss politics.  While Johnson served as the military governor of Tennessee, he freed the slaves and upon Abraham Lincoln’s assassination became President of the United States.

Andrew Johnson tailor shop

State of Franklin Capitol Building

Not far from the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, is a replica of the building that is believed to have been used at the capitol of the State of Franklin from 1785 to 1788.  Franklin was organized as a state by locals who were left without a government after North Carolina imparted its land west of the Appalachians to the Federal Government.  Franklin, never recognized by Congress, struggled as a state for less than five years before ultimately becoming part of Tennessee.

State of Franklin Capitol Building on the East Tennessee border

Knoxville and Pigeon Forge

As I toured the area, the rain grew heavier, so I headed to Knoxville to get another phone.  The touch screen on my replacement phone was not always responsive, and I was left with a phone I couldn’t even unlock after a hard reset and a restore.  Hopefully the third time will be a charm! 

While I wasn’t that pleased with having to take the detour to Knoxville, my return led me to a Walmart in Sevierville and to Mel’s Diner a few miles down the road in Pigeon Forge.  While this diner wasn’t connected with the show Alice, I couldn’t help but think of Flo and a few of her choice phrases:  “Kiss My Grits” and “When Pigs Fly”.  It was a pleasant reminder of my childhood days enjoying Alice. ETB

Mels Diner in Pigeon Forge Tennessee

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.

Other Articles About Tennessee You May Like


Check out the photographic note cards and key chains at my shop.  Each card has a travel story associated with it.  20% of proceeds are donated to charity.

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

4 thoughts on “Day 64 – East Tennessee Border Tour

  1. love the pic of the BIG brick house and the white frame house but that white one needs some shutters to dress it up some & I know back in the day it would have had shutters for the heat, protection, and shelter from storms. You are such a plethora of information.

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