It always amazes visitors how much there is to do here in the Appalachian mountains of Northeastern Tennessee during the summer and fall.
Every day there is hiking, swimming, boating, fishing and relaxing. But there are also a great many activities which are fun for the entire family.
Just in June alone are the following events:
Blue Plum Festival – June 6-8 – Old Downtown – Johnson City – Blue Plum.org
Heritage Hall Performance Center – Blithe Spirit – June 20,21,22
June 27, 28 – Mountain City – heritagehalltheatre.org
Watauga Lake Winery – Wine Dinner – June 21 – wataugalakewinery.com
Roan Mountain – Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival –
June 21,22 – roanmountain.com
An 18th Century Independence Celebration and Muster – Sycamore ShoalsState Historic Area-June 28 and 29 sycamoreshoalstn.org
Old Mill Days – Trade Gristmill – Trade
Gray Fossil Museum with permanent exhibits and traveling exhibits – Alligators, red pandas, camels, and beavers are among the finds recently discovered while digging at the Gray site – grayfossilmuseum.org
Doe Mountain – an 8600 acre recreational area for hiking, biking and ATV trails
Watauga Lake – swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding
On March 2, the International Tenors will be performing at Heritage Hall in nearby Mountain City. An incredible show coupled with a multimedia video. The tenors perform on stage with a big screen showing scenes and footage of Italy, Spain and France. The audience will almost believe they are sitting in a little café watching a great show in the Piazza.
For the weekend performance of the International Tenors, special last minute rates start at only $119.00 per night and include tickets to the show.
Or, if you prefer band music, coming up on Tuesday March 19th at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Bristol, TN/VA will be a performance by the USAF Rhythm and Blues Jazz Band. Call right away as this performance is sure to sell out.
With mid-week discount rates starting at only $98.00 per night on a 2 night stay,(regular rates are $155.00-$195.00) full breakfast each morning and the bottomless cookie jar, this March 19th getaway is a real special for anyone who likes jazz and blues.
These are one night only shows so call and book a room at the Iron Mountain Inn B&B in Butler, TN. At the same time let us know how many tickets for one or both shows we can order for you.
Keep checking back as we will be listing other events both musical and theatrical taking place within the Tri-Cities region throughout the year.
Check out http://www.wataugalakeexperience.com/waterfalls . Be sure to watch the video all the way to the end! This site will be updated as new photos are added in the next few months, or if you have photos of any of the listed waterfalls, be sure to send a link to the wataugalakeexperience site. The more the merrier!
Had a photo shoot interview today from a documentary company making a documentary film about RAM, Remote Area Medical services. There is so much need for health services in the rural districts of the United States, but they are not as well known as help for Haiti, or Sri Lanka, or other overseas countries. Hopefully this film will bring attention to a pressing need.
Linked by the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) decision to create a series of dams to generate electricity for the rural south,
Butler and Watauga Lake are now popular vacation destinations. They have also attracted retirees looking for four seasons, with shorter milder winters, longer springs, cooler summers and colorful autumns.
With no large industries or agricultural activities to pollute the surrounding streams and creeks feeding the lake, and surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest, Watauga Lake is known for its clean waters and beautiful scenery. Gliding over the surface of the lake, imagine yourself Daniel Boone paddling along the Watauga River on his way to “Kentuck”.
Boating, fishing for bass, trout, walleye and catfish, swimming at Shook Branch area, camping at Carden’s Bluff, or picnicking at Watauga Point, the entire family will enjoy a day at Watauga Lake. Although the lake is fed from mountain streams and the Watauga River, during the summer, the water is warm – just right for swimming! And no big waves, no salt, no chlorine – just pure mountain water.
Don’t have your own boat? Pontoon and sailboat rentals are available at Fish Springs Marina (www.fishspringsmarina.com). Pick up sandwiches, drinks and snacks at Fish Tales for your day on the water. Call ahead and they will have them ready, or drop in and get to know the regulars who enjoy the good food and camaraderie.
Butler and Watauga Lake are also near The Appalachian Trail. The trail runs along the lower edge of the lake, crosses Watauga Dam which created the lake and then continues along the Iron Mountain Trail overlooking the lake and Butler. There are two huts on this part of the trail for hikers who want to do just a couple of days on the trail. The easy access is off Cross Mountain Road (route 91), but the trail also crosses the Watauga Dam road.
In spring and early summer, swimmers at the Shook Branch swimming area are joined by hikers cooling off, or just taking a break before continuing on their 2100 mile journey. If you see AT hikers, they are usually pretty grubby, but ask them about their experiences on the trail – and what their trail name is and how they got it. I’m sure they’d be delighted to share.
Old Butler was bought by the TVA starting in the late 1930’s, the homes were torn down, or moved to Carderview (which was to be the “New Butler”) and slowly foundations, roads and fields were covered by 300’ of water drowning Butler, leaving behind only memories. But the citizens of Butler did not forget, nor did they want to lose their town, so they petitioned to continue using the name Butler instead of Carderview.
Rising like the phoenix of old, today, Butler is a busy community with small town values and friendship. There are four marinas two of which rent pontoon boats; a pizza restaurant, two hamburger “joints”, an “all you can eat” Southern style restaurant, a Thai restaurant, a permanent RV facility; the Iron Mountain Inn Bed and Breakfast and cabin rentals (www.mountainlakevacation.com) ;
But what many visitors enjoy, is the Watauga River Valley Museum, usually known as the Butler Museum, built with the help of the inmates at the nearby correctional facility. Shoun Lumber Company, a three generation business in Butler donated the lumber and the former residents of “Old Butler” planned, designed and built the exhibits with help from East Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee’s departments of museums.
Photos, artifacts and memorabilia of “Old Butler” are arranged in groupings depicting life in Old Butler from the time of Native Americans to the December 1, 1948 when the dam was closed and waters began to rise.
Many of the items in the Museum were donated by the families who were moved. Now the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of citizens of “Old Butler” will be able to see what life was like before the Watauga River was dammed. For hundreds of years here in the mountains of Northeast Tennessee families settled, raised children, sent them to schools like the Watauga Academy and passed on the love of the land. Hopefully, the present day families will pass long their land to their heirs.
The family of Stout’s Barber Shop saved his entire shop before they moved away and now it is back in Butler as a reminder of life when people got their news from the barber shop and its denizens.
Tobacco was a main staple of local farmer’s income for a couple hundred years. As a friend commented, “Where else can I earn $6000 on one acre of land?”
But times have changed and tobacco is no longer as important as it once was. However, most people still plant large gardens from which they eat throughout the following year. August is a very busy time here in the mountains with canning, freezing, cooking and preparing for the winter months.
The docents of the Butler Museum are former residents of Old Butler so their commentary reflects a deep love of their former homes and community. Be sure to ask them to tell some stories about growing up in Old Butler, diving in the swimming hole or meeting friends at the Blue Bird Tea Room.
From the Museum, take a tour of the quilts painted on barns around the county (www.thequilttrail.com) Can you figure out from the quilt on the Cove Ridge Marina barn what it is called?
Butler is within an hour’s drive of a lifetime of things to do, place to go and sights to see. So how about starting with a trip down around the lake through Hampton and Valley Forge to visit the dam which started it all. From there, continue on 91 into the Cherokee National Forest on the back side of the Appalachian Trail, turning right at Cross Mountain road.
Come help clean up Watauga Lake on June 30, 2012. Meet at Fish Springs Marina we’ll supply garbage bags and t-shirts! It’s a wonderful day on the water with like minded people interested in helping to maintain the pristine beauty of Watauga Lake.
Share the magic of the mountains with a stay at the Iron Mountain Inn B&B in Butler.
News and Notes from the Iron Mountain Inn innkeeper