Love for Buffalo Mountain

Johnson City Press • Jul 22, 2018 at 8:15 AM

Buffalo Mountain has seen its fair share of troubles over the years, including a 2008 forest fire that temporarily shut down Johnson City’s 723-acre park and a 2012 flood that destroyed the mountain’s historic Methodist camp.

This week, our staff reported about some much-needed attention for the mountain on two fronts.

Nearly five years after it was destroyed by storms that swept through Northeast Tennessee, though, the camp is back to life. The August 2012 rains brought floods and a landslide, washing out the road to the campsite and damaging cabins and bathhouses. After operating the retreat for six decades, the Holston Conference of United Methodist Church left the site three years after the storms for a new camp on Kingsport’s Bays Mountain.

Despite the damage, though, Roxanne and Billy Cox and family bought the property and went to work improving the grounds and buildings, including the 17-bedroom retreat center, into an events and getaway venue. As Staff Writer Jessica Fuller reported this week, the Coxes plan to host special events to raise funds toward renovating the camp’s focal point, Allison Lodge, and eventually plan to restore the cabins.

The results so far are beautiful, and the community owes the Coxes a word of thanks for investing in the mountain.

Between the camp, the city’s park, the Pinnacle fire tower trail and other ATV and hiking trails, the Buffalo Mountain area is our largest natural recreational asset, and it’s ripe with even more opportunities. Johnson City and Unicoi are nestled against the rolling landscape, which offers spectacular views from above and below.

In today’s edition, Staff Writer Zach Vance reports about the U.S. Forest Service’s thoughts of converting roughly 5 miles of logging trails atop Buffalo Mountain to hiking and mountain biking use. The Forest Service plans to seek public comment on the proposal before reaching a decision. We can’t imagine a better use, as long as the mountain’s environment is preserved.

In the long run, Buffalo Mountain is a linchpin in Johnson City’s hopes of becoming an outdoor recreational mecca. Such amenities are drivers for both tourism and economic development.

We’re happy to see Buffalo Mountain getting the attention and hope to see the love keep coming.

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