Founded as a railroad station in 1856, Johnson City is now one of the largest cities in Tennessee. It is renowned as a home of “old-time music”, a genre of folk music that gave rise to local stars such as “Fiddlin’ Charlie” Bowman, who was influential in the development of early country music.
Things to do in Johnson City
On the campus of East Tennessee State University is the Reece Museum, which displays artefacts and historic photographs related to Appalachia. It’s a short stroll from the George L. Carter Railroad Museum, where you’ll find a variety of railway memorabilia, model locomotives and rolling stock. It is dedicated to George L. Carter, who constructed the Clinchfield Railroad to transport coal from Eastern Kentucky to the Carolina Piedmont.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Johnson City, hit the hiking trails of Buffalo Mountain Park, a 300-hectare forested area that lies to the city’s south. Follow the White Rock Trail Loop to enjoy superb views towards Unicoi or hike to Huckleberry Knob for sweeping panoramas of Johnson City. Located atop Mount Buffalo is the Pinnacle Mountain Fire Tower, where you can see all the way to Mount Mitchell in North Carolina.
To the north of Johnson City is Boone Lake, a scenic reservoir created by the damming of the South Fork Holston and Watauga rivers. In the summer months, it is a popular spot for swimming, boating and water skiing, as well as fishing for largemouth bass, catfish and carp.
Getting around Johnson City
Johnson City is around 1.5 hours’ drive from Knoxville and just under two hours from McGhee Tyson Airport, which has flights to destinations across the United States. Long-distance buses connect to Johnson City while Johnson City Transit operates a system of buses within the city limits.