Boones Creek, a foundation of Tennessee, sees growth and development flourish

Becky Campbell • Mar 31, 2019 at 11:52 AM

For some, Boones Creek may be no more than a shortcut from the outskirts of Johnson City to Jonesborough, the state’s oldest town.

But looking back to the beginnings of what is now Tennessee, there is so much more to the area as it evolves with residential and business growth.

Still unincorporated, Boones Creek is an annexed community of Johnson City and has, by all definition, become an extension of the city. So how did Boones Creek get its name? It’s the area where frontiersman Daniel Boone loved and hunted in the 1700s. It’s the place where he proudly carved an inscription into a beech tree that said “D. Boon cilled a bar 1760.”

Fast forward 300 years, give or take a few, and the area still boasts woodlands where bears likely live. But there is also obviously growth as businesses and housing developments popped up throughout. On what might be called the main drag of Boones Creek — the portion between the Bristol Highway and Jonesborough — are high-end neighborhoods like The Ridges as well as rolling acres of farmland.

A large portion of that farmland is currently being developed for a new school, Boones Creek K-8, to replace the aging Boones Creek Elementary School.

Preston Mitchell, the Johnson City director of development services, said the state is getting ready to begin a large road project to revamp the entire Boones Creek exit off I-26.

“It will be a significant improvement for folks to enter and exit to the interstate system onto Boones Creek Road,” Mitchell said. “That will entail not only the realignment of the interchange but some improvements on both sides of the interstate.”

He said the county is working on a “large-scale rezoning” of a piece of property on Christian Church Road near Boones Creek Road, but he had no details about what the county might be planning for that area.

Mitchell said Boones Creek growth has been market driven.

“Generally what will happen in suburban areas you will have rooftops (housing) first and after your rooftops reach a certain critical mass, you begin to see commercial development,” Mitchell said. “What has happened in this area is we’ve had housing development, particularly two subdivisions that came online in the recent past that were annexed by the city. Now there’s rooftop construction off and running, and there are a number of conversations that have occurred about potential and future residential development there.

With that, commercial development will follow,” he said. When commercial development creates jobs, then there will be a need for more housing as well as shopping and dining opportunities for those residents.

All of that development has come a long way since Tennessee’s first white settler, William Bean, built a cabin and planted corn at Boones Creek in 1768. He staked a claim to the land, and moved his family there in 1769. Also, Tennessee's first stores were located in Boones Creek along with the first schools and churches. Boones Creek was home to Dr. Hezekiah Hankal, Belle Keefauver, Dr. Joseph Clark, William Fountain Carter, Mary B. Martin, Fiddlin' Charlie Bowman, and notable others. Boones Creek was also an encampment for soldiers on both sides of the Civil War.

Driving through the area today and seeing the growth and development Mitchell described, one might not detect the rich history of Boones Creek, but with just a little effort, the remnants of days gone by can still reach out and grab one’s interest.





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