By Mike Steely
Our region is a fantastic area to get out and take the family to visit places that are free or almost free. In my past “Day Away” columns, I’ve written about many of those places and you can review most of them on www.knoxfocus.com by selecting “Steely” under Columnists.
My wife and I have visited almost all of our state parks except for Rocky Fork State Park and now we’re looking forward to visiting all the Storybook Trails in our state, most of which are in state parks.
But there are a few places we haven’t visited or written about… yet.
Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park is a 2,075-acre state park in Unicoi County in East Tennessee. It is situated in the Blue Ridge region of the Appalachian Mountains, close to the Tennessee-North Carolina state line. It’s in the mountains off Highway 23 south of Johnson City. There’s only primitive camping but we’ll eventually get there.
The Flint Creek Battle Site is located in the area, where John Sevier’s militia force defeated a Cherokee encampment.
Mountain City, the most eastern incorporated county seat in the state, has a population of about 2,500. Originally called “Taylorville,” the town is near a mountain gap where Daniel Boone entered what is now Tennessee. Johnson County Welcome Center & Museum is located there. It offers tourist information about the county and the museum showcases the history of the area and has a large collection of Native American and pioneer objects. The Steve Earle song “Copperhead Road” is set in the vicinity of Mountain City.
Copper Hill and Ducktown are on the extreme lower east corner of our state, both with a history of copper mining.
Coker Creek is east of Tellico Plains and north of Copper Hill on Highway 68 and was, in the 1800s, the center of gold mining in Tennessee. People still pan for gold along the creek there
Birchwood is located between Cleveland and Dayton and near the historic Trail of Tears and Blyth Ferry.
Byrdstown is located on Highway 111 near the Cordell Hull Birthplace State Park and not far from the Alvin York State Park.
Kyles Ford is on the upper Clinch River east of Sneedville and just south of the Virginia state line. Robert Kyle Sr. and his family moved to the area in 1801 and founded the crossing. The Edward R. Talley Bridge was built over Kyles Ford in 1928, replacing a toll ferry. The Clinch River Conservation Retreat and River Place are in the area.
Parrottsville is east of Newport on Highway 35. The little community has two points of interest: a natural bridge that Highway 340 crosses over and Swaggerty’s Fort, a blockhouse built above a stream just east of the little village.
Mooresburg, between Bean Station and Rogersville on Highway 11 W, is a small residential community near Cherokee Lake. It was, at one time, the home of a mineral waters resort. We lived there many years ago in a rented house with a huge fruit tree orchard in the front yard.
Andersonville is just north of Knoxville and east of Clinton. The community was the site of a Union victory in the early days of the American Civil War. The little town is also near Big Ridge State Park, Norris Dam State Park, and Anderson County Park.
Red Boiling Springs, once known as Salt Lick Creek, was another thriving summer health spa and retreat. The town is located in Macon County in upper-middle Tennessee, north of Cookeville, just off Highways 56 and 151.
There are others places in our region we haven’t visited and we’re hoping to expand our bucket list someday to visit as many as we can. It’s fun to go on an adventure even if, sometimes, you don’t know where you’ll end up. Take the family.