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History of Johnson County Tennessee

Quoted from Mountain City Elementary School website 

     In 1885 the town Taylorsville was renamed Mountain City. This change took place when Roderick Random Butler who served in the 13th Tennessee Cavalry convinced the people of the town to change the name. The new name came not only from its location at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, but also because it was in one of the highest valleys in Tennessee. 

     The first newspaper written in Johnson County was the Taylorsville Reporter. It was established in 1874 by W.J. Keys. Later the paper was renamed The Tomahawk. 

     Smith's Mill was renamed Butler in honor of Roderick Random Butler. 

     In 1900 the railroad finally came to Johnson County. The ET&WNC ( the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad, aka "Tweetsie") Railroad which served as a shipper from Butler to Hampton had been the closest railroad before this. The V&SW Railroad originally planned mainly to carry iron ore out of upper East Tennessee became a major means to transport farm and timber products.   Several logging operations came to the area creating a thriving railroad related business. 

     In 1907 the Pea Vine Railroad traveled through Laurel on its way from Damascus to Mountain City. This railroad also ran to Forge Creek.  

     In just a few years a large portion of Johnson County had been over logged. At this time many private land owners began selling their land to the United States government to form the Cherokee National Forest. Other land owners turned to agriculture to make a living. The railroad was being used less and less. After flooding destroyed large portions of the railroad track in 1940  the track was not replaced and the railroad no longer traveled through the county. 

     From 1935 to 1950 Johnson County was a leading producer of green beans. In the early 1950’s it was called the “Bean Capital of the World”. Mechanical pickers ended the success of the crop in Johnson County. Mechanical pickers were cheaper than hand picking so farmers stopped raising bean crops. Today the largest agricultural product is our county is tobacco. 

at right, the Pea Vine railroad crew in Greeneville, Tennessee. 

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