Johnson County Tennessee Communities

Johnson County is the northeastern most county in Tennessee, sharing borders with Virginia and North Carolina. The county is situated entirely in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is made up of many small towns and communities situated over four mountains, three valleys and along one big lake. It is one of the highest counties in Tennessee, and it has a total area of 303 square miles, of which 298 square miles is land and 4.2 square miles is water.

Mountain City is the largest town in the county and serves as the county seat. The county is governed by a Board of Commissioners and a county mayor. There are (8) voting districts in the county represented by 15 Commissioners.   The county is located within Tennessee’s 1st congressional district.

Johnson County was created in 1836 from parts of Carter County, where Elizabethton was the county seat. The residents of what is now Johnson County tried for years to get the county to move the seat to a more central location, because it was so difficult to travel to Elizabethton. Their formal petition was rejected by the county, so they petitioned the state legislature for the creation of a new county. The new county was named after Thomas Johnson, an early settler.

Mainly due to the remoteness of the county, the railroads did not reach Johnson County until the early 1900’s.

The arrival of the railroad greatly helped the development of the timber and manganese mining industries.

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Butler, TN

Butler is an unincorporated community in Johnson County, Tennessee, and is located along the northern shore of Watauga Lake. Butler is served by a Post Office assigned zip code 37640. The community is part of the voting district # 4 area of the county.


The settlement of what is now known as Butler began in 1768. The town was originally located on Roan Creek at its confluence with the Watauga River, and the community was originally called Smith’s Mill for the gristmill built on the bank of the Roan Creek in 1820. After the civil war, it was renamed in honor of Colonel Roderick R. Butler.
 

Aenon Seminary, a secondary school, was established in Butler in 1871. It later became Holly Springs College. In the 1906, it was purchased by the Watauga Baptist Association and renamed Watauga Academy. It operated under that name until 1948, when the town was inundated by the formation of Watauga Lake, and the town was relocated to higher ground to make way for the lake.
 

The original town is now known as “Old Butler” and is called “The Town That Wouldn’t Drown”. The history and relocation of Butler is documented at the Butler Museum, which has incredible exhibits and original pictures on display
presenting the long history, the Appalachian culture and the relocation of the original town to its current location.

Cold Springs, TN

The Cold Springs community is located in Johnson County, Tennessee, and it is located right outside of Mountain City. The primary coordinates of the community place it within the 37683 zip code delivery area of Mountain City.

 

The community is part of the voting district #1 area of the county.
In or near the community are the Second District Volunteer Fire Department and several businesses. The history of the community was rooted in farming and today there are still many farms in the area.

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Doe Valley, TN

Doe Valley is an unincorporated community in Johnson County, Tennessee, and it is situated in the upper Doe Creek Valley between Iron Mountains to the north and Doe Mountain to the south. The community is located along Hwy 67 between Mountain City and Butler. It is near the communities of Pandora to the southwest and Dewey to the northeast.


The primary coordinates for Doe Valley places it within the 37683 zip code delivery area of Mountain City. The community is part of the voting district #5 area of the county.


Doe Valley is the location of the Tennessee Department of Correction’s Northeast Correctional Complex and the Johnson County Chamber Park, which hosts an annual rodeo and other events. This community is home to the Doe Valley Elementary School and the Doe Valley Volunteer Fire Department. There are also a number of small businesses located inthe area. It is near Watauga Lake and the Cherokee National Forest.

Dry Run, TN

Dry Run is a small community in Johnson County, Tennessee and is located near Butler.

The primary coordinates of the county place it within the 37640 zip code delivery area of Butler. The community is part of the voting district #4 area of the county.


Located in the community are the Dry Run Volunteer Fire Department and the Dry Run Elementary School. There are also several businesses in this area including the Dry Hill General Store & Deli and the Watauga Lake Winery.

Forge Creek / Shouns, TN

The Forge Creek and Shouns community is located in Johnson County, and it is actually situated within the town of Mountain City. It has an elevation of 2303 feet with Forge Mountain rising to the east of the town. The primary coordinates of the community place it within the 37683 zip code delivery area of Mountain City. The community is part of the voting district #2 area of the county.


In 1761 Daniel Boone came through the area that is now Johnson County. In the mid 1770’s, a settlement was established in the area called “The Trade Gap”, which was a trading post for Indians and traders. The area was renamed Trade, Tennessee and is the oldest community in the state. By the late 1770’s, Johnson County had a population of about 150 people, with a leading citizen being Leonard Shoun, who fathered 20 children, and for which Shoun’s Crossroads is named.

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Laurel Bloomery, TN

Laurel Bloomery is an unincorporated community in Johnson County, Tennessee, and it is the northeastern most community in the state with an elevation of 2410 feet. It is located along Hwy 91 between Mountain City, Tennessee and Damascus, Virginia.


Laurel Bloomery had a Post Office with an assigned zip code of 37680. It is now part of the Mountain City delivery area. The community is part of the voting district # 1 area of the county.


The community was settled in the early 19th century. The community’s first bloomer forge mill was built and began operation in 1810. The mill was closed in 1870, but portions are still standing today. The community was named for the Laurel Creek between Damascus and Mountain City. The area is known for its’ beautiful mountains and secluded valleys.
The area is home to some great hiking trails including the easier Laurel Creek Trail that meanders along the Laurel Creek and the more challenging Gentry Falls Trail leading to a double waterfall located in the back forest of the area.


The Old Time Fiddlers Convention is held every year at the Old Mill Music Park. It marks the annual anniversary of the Mountain City Fiddlers Convention of 1925 that was held in nearby Mountain City. Musicians travel to this event to play and listen to old time folk and bluegrass music.

Mountain City, TN

Mountain City serves as the county seat of Johnson County, and it is the northeastern most county seat in Tennessee. It is the highest incorporated city in the state at an elevation of 2,418 feet. The town has a total area of 3.3 square miles, all being land. The town is situated in one of the highest valleys in the state. Forge Mountain rises to the east, Doe Mountain rises to the southwest and Iron Mountains rise to the north.


Mountain City is just a few miles from both the Virginia and North Carolina state lines. US Hwy 421 connects Mountain City with Bristol, Tennessee, to the northwest and Boone, North Carolina, to the southeast. State route 67 winds along side Watauga Lake and connects the town to Elizabethton, Tennessee.


Mountain City has a Post Office with an assigned zip code of 37683. The town is part of the voting district #7 area of the county.
 

The first Euro-American explorers arrived in what is now the Mountain City area in the late 17th century using existing Native American trails. The first permanent Euro-American settlers arrived in the 18th century and among them were Leonard Shoun and Alexander Doran. The town was founded in 1836 and was originally called Taylorsville, in honor of Colonel James Taylor. The name was changed to Mountain City in 1885, to reflect it being in one of the highest valleys in Tennessee.


Mountain City and Johnson County have a long musical heritage. In 1925, the town was the site of the first Mountain City Fiddlers Convention, which is considered a landmark event in the modern history of Appalachian traditional music. The musical gathering greatly contributed to the development of the genre of country music. It is celebrated every year at the Old Time Fiddlers Convention in nearby Laurel Bloomery.

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Shady Valley, TN

Shady Valley is an unincorporated community in Johnson County, Tennessee, and is located just outside of the Cherokee National Forest. Shady Valley is also the name of the valley in which the town is located. It is the second highest community in Tennessee at an elevation of 2785 feet, and it is situated between Holston Mountain to the northwest and Iron Mountain to the southeast. The town is located at the intersection of Hwy 421 and Hwy 91 in the middle of the valley.


Shady Valley is served by a Post Office assigned zip code 37688. The community is part of the voting district #6 area of the county.


Shady Valley is home to some historic cranberry bogs. These are cold adopted ecosystems, far south of their usual range. The valley once contained an estimated 10,000 acres of boreal cranberry bogs. The annual Cranberry Festival held the second weekend in October every year, celebrates the remaining cranberry bog. The annual festival includes food, music, a parade and auctions.


Shady Valley is also known for the famous Snake Motorcycle Ride. The local general store serves as the home base for this motorcycle route, and here you can get Snake Motorcycle memorabilia, food, gas and information. The community has two other small businesses, a US Post Office and the Shady Valley Elementary School.

Trade, TN

Trade is an unincorporated community in Johnson County, Tennessee, and is the eastern most community in the state. Trade is also considered the oldest community in the state, and it is the highest community in the state at 3133 feet elevation. It is located along Hwy 421 between Mountain City, Tennessee and Boone, North Carolina.


Trade is served by a Post Office assigned zip code 37691. The community is part of the voting district #3 area of the county.
 

In the 18th century, Trade was established as a trading outpost known as “The Trade Gap”. It was a trading post for Native Americans, pioneers and fur traders. Tom Dula (made famous by the folk song “Tom Dooley”) hid out in Trade as he was on the run, suspected of murder in North Carolina. He was eventually arrested by a posse in Trade.


In 2008, the Trade Gristmill celebrated its grand opening at the Trade Community Center grounds. Most of the parts comprising the newly constructed mill date back to pre-civil war. This is a good attraction to share with family and friends.
 

The culture and history of Trade is celebrated at the Trade Days Festival, a long running celebration of Appalachian arts, crafts, culture and history. It includes Appalachian music, dance and a Native American Pow-Wow. It is held at the Trade Community Center.

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