As the only incorporated municipality in Johnson County, Mountain City serves as the county seat. It is also the northeastern most county seat in the state where you will see the first sunrise in Tennessee. At an elevation of 2,418 feet, Mountain City is the highest incorporated city in the state. The town has a total area of 3.3 square miles, all being land and is situated in one of the highest valleys in the state. Forge Mountain rises to the east, Doe Mountain rises to the southwest and Iron Mountains rise to the north. With its clean air, pristine waters and starry skies, this area has become a favorite place for recreation and respite among travelers.

Mountain City is just a few miles from both the Virginia and North Carolina state lines. US Hwy 421 connects Mountain City with Bristol, Tennessee, to the northwest and Boone, North Carolina, to the southeast. State route 67 winds along side Watauga Lake and connects the town to Elizabethton, Tennessee.

The first Euro-American explorers arrived in what is now the Mountain City area in the late 17th century using existing Native American trails. The first permanent Euro-American settlers arrived in the 18th century and among them were Leonard Shoun and Alexander Doran. The town was founded in 1836 and was originally called Taylorsville, in honor of Colonel James Taylor. The name was changed to Mountain City in 1885, to reflect it being in one of the highest valleys in Tennessee.

Mountain City and Johnson County have a long and rich musical heritage. In 1925, the town was the site of the first Mountain City Fiddlers Convention, which is considered a landmark event in the modern history of Appalachian traditional music. The musical gathering greatly contributed to the development of the genre of country music. In 2023, the Kody Norris Show will produce and host the Mountain City Fiddlers Convention in collaboration with Johnson County Tourism and the Johnson County Center for the Arts.


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