It might be hard to believe today, but when Johnson City commissioners were first presented with the idea of creating Winged Deer Park, there were some who were skeptical of its location.

It was the late 1980s, and the J. Norton Arney family farm was purchased by the city in hopes of developing a recreational complex near the banks of Boone Lake. 

Several city leaders at the time thought a park on the Arney farm would be too far of a drive for many Johnson City residents.

Nonetheless, Winged Deer Park was established in 1991.

Thirty years later, the sprawling 200-acre site, located at 4137 Bristol Highway, has become one the most popular and most identifiable parks in Johnson City. The original Arney farmhouse is now the city’s Parks and Recreation administration office.

The complex includes five lighted softball fields, batting cages and an 18-hole disc golf course. The lakefront area provides boating access, a  handicap accessible boardwalk and an amphitheater and festival space.

The park’s historical area features the Robert Young Cabin, which is one of Johnson City’s oldest dwellings, the Massengil Monument and the James H. Quillen Historical Tree Arboretum.

Press Senior Reporter

Robert Houk has served as a journalist and photographer at the Press since 1987. He is a recipient of the Associated Press Managing Editors Malcom Law Award for investigative reporting.