Elizabethton, founded in 1799 and incorporated in 1905, is the county seat of Carter County, Tennessee. It is also the site of the first independent American settlement west of both the Eastern Continental Divide and the original thirteen British colonies in America. The Doe River flows underneath the historic Elizabethton Covered Bridge, built in 1882. The Elizabethton Historic District contains a variety of properties ranging in age from the late 1700s through the 1930s including most of Elizabethton’s downtown. A Tennessee Historical Marker located on West Elk Avenue in front of the S.P. Carter Mansion in downtown Elizabethton, commemorates the life and naval career of Samuel Powhattan (S.P.) Carter. The Veterans’ Monument obelisk guarded by two short field cannons downtown was originally dedicated in 1904 to both Union and Confederate veterans from Carter County.
Elizabethton was first serviced by relatively inexpensive hydroelectric power during the early 1910s, leading to the popular “The City of Power” moniker. The Horseshoe section of the Watauga River is the site of the first hydroelectric dam constructed in Tennessee. In 1922 the City Manager form of government was adopted to replace the Board of Aldermen. Another charter change was made in 1965 to the Modified City Manager-Council form of government.
Today, Elizabethton has a population of 14,200 people and occupies approximately nine square miles in Carter County. Elizabethton is a full service city and contains one High School and three Elementary Schools. The Elizabethton Municipal Airport is a city owned airport within the city limits and is located only eight minutes from downtown Elizabethton. Elizabethton is also home to a branch of Northeast State Community College located adjacent to the Elizabethton Municipal Airport. Sharing a border with Elizabethton is Johnson City, Tennessee. Elizabethton’s central location allows it to be just minutes away from many of East Tennessee’s infrastructures including Interstate 26, Interstate 81, Tri-Cities Regional Airport, U.S. Highway 19E, U.S. Highway 321, and U.S. Highway 11E.
There are plenty of things to do and see in Elizabethton and Carter County. Here are just a few suggestions:
￼Roan Mountain State Park encompasses 2,006 acres of southern Appalachian forest at the base of 6,285 foot Roan Mountain. Park elevation ranges from 3,000 feet in the valley to around 3,700 feet on surrounding ridges. Rich hardwood forests allow for a great diversity of life and a wide range of outdoor activities.
Park guests have opportunities to hike along creeks and ridges, fish for trout, play tennis, swim, tour a century old farmhouse, join rangers and naturalists for educational programs, and enjoy mountain music concerts. The Appalachian Trail and famous Rhododendron Gardens of Roan Mountain can be accessed at Carver’s Gap, an 8-mile drive from the park. View all Annual events at Roan Mountain State Park
￼Built in 1882, the Doe River Covered Bridge in Elizabethton, Tennessee is believed to be the oldest such bridge in the state still used daily. Whether you are seeking a casual stroll, an opportunity to feed the ducks, or a picnic alongside the Doe River, the Doe River Covered Bridge is a must-see when visiting Carter County!
Constructed at a cost of $3,000, the noble bridge spans the river for 134 feet, resting on earth and stone abutments. The original structure was built entirely of wood, with steel spikes used to fasten together the massive oak pieces used in the floor. The Doe River Covered Bridge, a historical treasure is one of two such bridges identified by Tennessee Historical Commission marker, as well as included in the national Registry of Historic Sites.
Each year, local residents and visitors celebrate the “Queen of the South,” during the month of June. The annual Covered Bridge Celebration is a three-day extravaganza filled with live music, food vendors, as well as arts and crafts!
Carter County is well known for its history. Pioneer John Carter settled along the Watauga River, building the Carter Mansion in the 1770s with his son, Landon, for whom Carter County was named. The city of Elizabethton was named for Landon’s wife, Elizabeth MacLin Carter. The two-story home is the oldest frame house still standing in Tennessee.
Sycamore Shoals, located in Elizabethton, played a pivotal role not only in Tennessee history but in the American Revolution. The site of the first permanent American settlement outside the 13 original colonies, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area has been preserved as a Tennessee state park.
The Watauga Association, the first majority-rule system of American democratic government, was formed here in 1772. The Overmountain militia gathered in response to a threat from British loyalists and traveled over the mountains to win a decisive victory in the Battle of Kings Mountain, S.C., a significant turning point in the Revolutionary War. In July of each year, the saga of the Overmountain Men is presented by local citizen actors in Tennessee’s official outdoor drama, “Liberty!” In addition, the historic march over the mountains is recreated each fall. View all Annual Events at Sycamore Shoals
Annual Events and Festivals
Two annual festivals are held in downtown Elizabethton: the Covered Bridge Festival in early June and the Octoberfest in late October. A variety of antiques and handmade crafts are available for purchase from local and regional artisans, while some of the area’s talented musicians are showcased on a stage near the historic Covered Bridge over the Doe River. Each festival includes a multitude of fun events and competitions for all ages.
Other events include the annual Celtic Festival and the Native American Festival which are both held at Sycamore Shoals Park, a historic downtown walking tour, historic “ghost walks,” Roan Mountain Naturalist Rallies in the spring and fall and the annual Rhododendron Festival at Roan Mountain State Park, Watauga Lake Boat Parade, and the Christmas Arts and Crafts Show and Christmas Tree Exhibit, also held at Sycamore Shoals. View all Annual Events
Winners of the 2007 Appalachian League championship, the Elizabethton Twins has proven to be one of the best minor league teams in Appalachia. Collaborating with the Minnesota Twins since 1974, this teams host some of the best rookies in baseball. Whether you are seeking a good game or fun with the family, your visit to Joe O’Brien Field will make your experience unforgettable. For more schedule/information on the Elizabethton Twins, call (423)-547-6441. or visit www.elizabethtontwins.com
East Tennessee Sports Complex
The East Tennessee Sports Complex, located in the Watauga Industrial Park on Highway 91 east of Elizabethton, is a multi-purpose facility offering four basketball courts, four volleyball courts, three baseball/softball fields, full concessions, arcades and HD TVs throughout for viewing sporting events. The ETSC hosts numerous youth tournaments as well as instructional camps and player showcases. For information on ETSC, call (423) 543-6730 or (877) 437-0639, or visit www.etsportscomplex.com
Outdoor recreation opportunities are available throughout Elizabethton/Carter County. Gather the family for a picnic in one of the many public parks, or visit two of Tennessee’s best parks for a history lesson with a mixture of fun. Amenities such as: tables, grills, drinking water and public toilets are available.