Highlights of Hawkins County
Where else can you walk with Presidents, preachers, and poets? Since 1775, folks from all over have been discovering what it means to unlock the secrets to our Tennessee mountain get-away. Whether it’s our beautiful mountains, our scenic rivers, lakes, and streams, or our unique history experience, you’ll want to stay a lifetime. Remember to plan your trip to experience one of our amazing annual events. There’s plenty to do, and the only thing you’ll worry about is what to do first.
Great Smoky Mountain Foothills: Throughout Hawkins County run the secondary ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains. Beautiful overlooks and breath-taking vistas are located throughout the county. A Chamber of Commerce representative stands ready to guide you to the best places to view our natural beauty for an experience you won’t forget. Office open M-F, 9-5. Free. Call 423-272-2186 for more information.
Cherokee Lake: This Tennessee Valley Authority reservoir is the perfect setting for your next get-away. Campgrounds and bed and breakfasts dot the countryside, inviting you to take advantage of their gorgeous surroundings. Your friends at the Chamber of Commerce can’t wait to let you in on the best lake-side secrets. Office open M-F, 9-5 pm. Free. Call 423-272-2186 for more information.
Hawkins County Courthouse: The oldest courthouse in Tennessee is located on the southeast corner of the Courthouse Square on Main Street in Rogersville. Built in 1836, it has continuously served as the seat of county government in Hawkins County. One of the most photographed buildings in the South. Open M-F, 9-5 pm. Free. Call 423-272-2186 for more information.
Hale Springs Inn: The Inn on the southwest corner of the Courthouse Square in Rogersville was built in 1824. It is the oldest continuously operated inn in Tennessee. Three United States presidents, Jackson, Polk, and Johnson, and numerous other dignitaries have stayed within these walls. The inn contains many original paintings and antiques from the mid-1820s and early 1830s. Self-guided tours are available for the entire inn including all guest rooms not occupied. Open 7 days, 8-10 pm. Free. For guest rates or further information, call 423-272-5171.
Tennessee Newspaper and Printing Museum: Located on the corner of South Depot Street and Broadway inside the Rogersville Train Depot. Rogersville is known as the “Cradle of Tennessee Journalism”, and the town’s storied printing heritage is on display in this award-winning museum. Numerous newspapers, magazines, and journals are on display, including a replica of The Knoxville Gazette, Tennessee’s first newspaper, which was published in Rogersville in 1791. The centerpiece of the museum is a working press that features the actual equipment from the Gazette’s original office. Open Tues-Thr, 10-4 and by appointment. Small admission charged. Call 423-272-1961.
Rogersville Train Depot: At the corner of South Depot Street and Broadway stands a charmingly restored Southern Railway depot that is home to the Rogersville Heritage Association and the Tennessee Printing Museum. In addition to its publishing-related materials, the Depot features items from Rogersville’s railroad past. Open Tues-Thur, 10-4, and by appointment. Call 423-272-1961 for more information.
Rogersville Historic District: The entire downtown and many of the adjacent neighborhoods are included on the National Register of Historic Places. The Historic District depicts almost all periods of history in Hawkins County from the 1780s to the 2000s. Self-guided strolling tours, available throughout the district, provide visitors with a guide to the many points of interest in the area. Year round. Free. Call 423-272-2186 for more information.
Archie Campbell Museum and Tourist Center: Located in downtown Bulls Gap, off of Highway 11E, the Museum is dedicated to the late star of the CBS comedy-variety show Hee-Haw, Archie Campbell. The museum includes the comedian’s home from his childhood, relocated to the Bulls Gap location, a train caboose, and an excellent museum with artifacts from Campbell’s life and a section on Hawkins County. M-F, 9-5 pm. Free. Call ahead at 423-235-5216 to reserve a self-guided tour.
Olde Bulls Gap Historic District: A self-guided walking tour of downtown Bulls Gap is offered at the Town Hall located on South Main Street, off Highway 11E. Buildings and architecture show the influence of the railroad on the lives of the citizens of Bulls Gap and the importance that it retains today. Adjacent to the Archie Campbell Museum and Tourist Center. Year round. Free. Call ahead at 423-235-5216.
Volunteer Speedway: Marketed as the “world’s fastest dirt track”, a track affectionately known as “The Gap” has been thrilling race fans since 1974. Today, the track is a thirty-two degree high-banked 0.4 mile East Tennessee dirt track where cars average 120 mph in a twelve second lap. Races are scheduled throughout the late spring to early fall, and a small admission is charged. Call (423) 235-5020 for more information.
Laurel Run Park: This beautiful park, set stunningly along the placid Holston River, is operated by Hawkins County as a municipal park. The property was ceded to the county following the conclusion of filming for the major motion picture The River, starring Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek. Park includes river-access, a mountain creek, playground equipment, tennis courts, softball and baseball fields, and more. Picnic shelters are available for reservation. Open seasonally, April to October. Free; fee for reservation of shelters. Call 423-357-8559.
MOUNT CARMEL & SURGOINSVILLE
Both Mount Carmel and Surgoinsville boast city parks, catering to local citizens, tourists, and the wayside traveler. For information on reserving picnic shelters, call Mount Carmel at (423) 357-7710 or Surgoinsville at (423) 345-2213.