By John Thompson of the Johnson City Press
ELIZABETHTON — In less than three years, the Tweetsie Trail between Johnson City and Elizabethton has become a success, drawing walkers, runners and cyclists from near and far.
So, how about a trail to Abingdon?
Since its creation, the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail has been mostly a designated route for motorists, but now the U.S. Department of Interior and the National Park Service are leading an effort to create a 30-mile walking/bike trail between the Mustering Grounds in Abingdon and Sycamore Shoals.
Jon Hartman, Elizabethton’s director of planning and economic development, said his office was approached by staff from the U.S. National Park Service a little over a year ago. He said they were proposing a master plan and development of the Overmountain Trail.
“I contacted my colleagues in other surrounding jurisdictions,” Hartman wrote in a brief for the Elizabethton City Council. “We met and started working with our individual government agencies to try to put together the funding for this plan.” He said the Park Service was proposing a 60/40 matching grant to the local jurisdictions to put toward the master planning for the proposed trail.
Hartman said every city and county the trail passes through has agreed to contribute to the 40 percent needed for the planning grant.
Contributions would come from: Elizabethton, $5,000; Carter County, $5,000; Sullivan County, $7,000; Bluff City, $3,000; Bristol Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization, $5,000; Washington County, Virginia, $2,500; Abingdon, $5,000; Rocky Mount Chapter of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association, $2,000; East Tennessee Foundation, $2,500; Eastman Chemical Co., $2,000.
The National Park Service would fund $61,500 to the Rocky Mount Chapter of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association to coordinate master planning efforts. The Service would also apply for funding, where feasible, for construction of the trail after the master plan is completed.
The proposed end of the trail at Sycamore Shoals would come within a few hundred feet of the Tweetsie Trail, providing another 10 miles of trail and access to Johnson City.
The trail marks the route taken by Southwest Virginia men in September 1780 from Abingdon to Sycamore Shoals.
After joining with men from the Watauga, Nolichucky and Holston settlements, the patriots — known as the Overmountain Men — marched over the Appalachian Mountains to confront a British commander and his loyalist force at Kings Mountain in South Carolina.
Their victory is considered one of the turning points of the Revolutionary War.