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County Information



Before The White Man
The Pioneers
Early Settlements
The Forming of Johnson County
Johnson County and the Civil War
The Twentieth Century
The Story Behind the Name
The Town of Butler
Nick the Hermit
Tom Dula
Why you should Visit

Johnson County Trails Association
MainStreet Tenneessee
NorthEast Tennessee Tourism Association
Sunny Side Trail
Tennessee Vacations
TN 3 Star Community
TN Trails and Byways

Natural Attractions

Physical Features
The Appalachian Trail
Backbone Rock

The Story Behind the Name

Johnson County
Johnson County was created in 1836 from a part of Carter County. It was formed because of the distance and difficulty of traveling to Elizabethton, the county seat of Carter County. The county was named for Thomas Johnson who was one of the earliest settlers in the area. Johnson came to Doe Valley from Virginia. Johnson died in 1835, one year before his dream of a new county would come true. Johnson’s home site was the meeting place where the first court of Johnson County was organized. Thomas Johnson’s son was a member of that court.

Taylorsville then Mountain City
The new county seat of Johnson County was named Taylorsville after Col. James P. Taylor who was a leading citizen of Carter County. In 1885 the name Taylorsville was changed to Mountain City. The name change was a suggestion of Roderick Random Butler because the town was located in one of the highest valleys in Tennessee.

Butler In 1820 a community began to grow along the banks of Roan Creek. The community was named Smith’s Mill after one of the first businessmen to come to the area. Roderick Random Butler was one of the leading citizens of the Smith’s Mill community. After the Civil War the community decided to rename their town to honor Col. Butler. Col. Butler later moved to Taylorsville and built a large home which is known to the locals as The Butler Mansion. Roderick Random Butler served in the state legislature for 24 years and was a member of the U. S. Congress for ten years. Butler died in 1902 and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

Trade In the 1700’s Indians, trappers, and settlers meet to trade in an area in which three wilderness trails and an old buffalo trail came together. The old buffalo trail, which is now Highway 421, ran between Snake and Rich Mountains and was the easiest route for travelers going west through the area. By 1790 a community began to grow on the trading grounds. The community, simply known as Trade, had a country store, post office, a blacksmith shop, and a number of log cabins.

Sink Mountain is a marvel of nature. It is located beside Highway 67 in Doe Valley. As you travel down Highway 67 from Mountain City to Butler you will notice a pointed mountain that stands above the others. As you continue driving down the highway you can imagine the mountain growing to immense proportions. Instead the mountain appears to be sinking. This is due to the way the highway is laid out between the mountains and not that the mountain is actually sinking.

Roan Creek In 1769 Daniel Boone left the Yadkin in Wilkes County, North Carolina going to Kentucky. He followed the Watauga River to a beautiful stream. It was then that he noticed his roan horse was limping. Boone, knowing that his horse could not make the long journey, left him behind in the peaceful valley beside the beautiful stream. Two years later Boone was returning to his home in the Yadkin when his horse recognized him. The two were tearfully reunited. Boone was surprised to see that not only had his limping horse healed, but the horse was fat and healthy as well. The roan horse carried Boone to his home in the Yadkin. The beautiful stream by which Boone left his horse is today called Roan Creek after Boone’s horse.

Watauga River The Cherokee Indians were the tribe the white men encountered when they first explored the area that is now Johnson County. Because of this several places in the county are named for them or from Cherokee words. The Cherokee National Forest is one example. The word Cherokee means “The Principle People”. Watauga River is a Cherokee word meaning “the place where they drank”.

Maymead and Neva C. Keener Mount was a railroad construction engineer who was laying track for the Southern Railway through Johnson County. He meet and fell in love with a Johnson County girl named May Brown. He decided to name two railroad stops for May. The first he named May’s Mead(meadow), later shortened to Maymead. May loved the beautiful meadow in which the railroad ran. The second stop Mount named for Miss Brown’s two aunts. One aunt was named Nanny and the other Eva. Mount combined the two names, Nanny and Eva, to form the new word Neva.

Doeville Doeville is a small community in the Doe Valley. It was named for the large herds of doe that used to roam the area. A story is told that once when Daniel Boone was traveling through the valley he killed a doe.

Laurel Bloomery and Forge Creek The area that is now known as Laurel Bloomery was first settled by James Keys, Charles Anderson, and Lewis Wills. Wills established an iron works in 1797. Later Luther Warden built the first mill pond. It was by this pond that he smelted iron in big bloomers. This along with the thick thickets of laurel bushes gave Laurel Bloomery its name. Another mine was located on Woods Hill. Near the mouth of the creek was a large forge. This creek became known as Forge Creek and the community by the creek was simply known as Forge.

Shady Valley Shady Valley is a twelve square mile valley. It is completely surrounded by Iron, Holston, and Cross Mountains. Beaverdam Creek runs through the center of the valley. The first settlers came to the area in the late 1700’s. They called it Shady Valley because the land was completely covered with trees that shut out the light of the sun.

Shouns Leonard and his wife Barbara Schelmp Shoun moved to Johnson County in 1792. They opened a county store. Mr. and Mrs. Shouns had eighteen children. All of their children married and had children of their own except one. The area in which they lived became known as Shouns Crossroads. Later the name was shortened to Shouns

Crackers Neck A side show visited Johnson County. It set up it attractions near the community of Neva. At the side show a wrestler was challenging the local farmers to a match. One farm boy took up the challenge. It was during this match that the farm boy cracked the wrestlers neck. Locals began referring to the area as the place where the farm boy broke the wrestler’s neck. In time this was shortened to Crackers Neck.

Snake Mountain Snake Mountain has the highest elevation of any other place in Johnson County at 5574 feet above sea level. It is located in the Stone Mountain Range at the North Carolina-Tennessee state line. Snake Mountain received its name because the top of the mountain is humped like the shape of a snake.