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Boones Creek and musical heritage make perfect fit

Johnson City Press • Jun 20, 2018 at 8:30 AM

It may never be as famous as its namesake in Nashville, but you’ll find a grand new “opry” right here in Johnson City. And it’s been nearly 260 years in the making.

The Boones Creek Historical Trust Museum and Opry is the latest addition to Johnson City’s venues, joining the Down Home and other spots for the enjoyment of the region’s musical heritage.

Located in the former Radio Shack store at 525 W. Oakland Ave., the Museum and Opry is the pride and joy of the Boones Creek Historical Trust, a 32-year-old organization dedicated to preserving the history of the Boones Creek community, which now constitutes north Johnson City.

As Senior Reporter Becky Campbell reported last week, the museum binds local history along a timeline of displays featuring 20 QR codes that connect to songs. The timeline begins with the region’s first inhabitants, the Cherokee Nation, before taking visitors along stops specifically about Boones Creek.

Among the stops are displays featuring the famous tree noting Daniel Boone had killed a bear in 1760; Bean Fort, where William Bean established residency in 1769 as the first permanent European-American settler in what would become Tennessee; local doctors Hezekiah Hankal and Joseph L. Clark; Joe Bowman, an expert shooter who went to Hollywood to create western movie scenes; and Mayme Keefauver, the first woman to run for public office in Washington County.

And there’s good reason “Opry” is part of the museum’s name. One corner has a stage where invited groups perform on Saturday nights, and then it’s open for visitors to pull out their instruments and jam. The cover charge is just a buck, while snacks and drinks are sold for nominal amounts.

The Oakland Avenue location is just a temporary spot — it’s south of Boones Creek, anyway. It can only hold a fraction of the artifacts and heirlooms the organization has collected over the years. Proceeds from the museum and the performances will go into the fund for a larger museum the Historical Trust hopes to build one day.

What a great idea. Drawing visitors to history with the promise of live music and jam sessions is a perfect strategy. We can’t imagine a better way to enjoy an evening while learning a little along the way.

Boones Creek is part and parcel of the beginnings of Tennessee, and honoring that history with a permanent, musical museum is long overdue. We encourage you not only to visit the museum and take advantage of Opry Nights but also to support the Historical Trust in its efforts to establish a larger location.

To learn more about the organization and the Museum and Opry, visit www.boonescreekhistoricaltrust.org or call 423-467-0151.

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