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Every valley in Johnson County offers something unique

One of the main things I like about Johnson County, Tennessee; the county of my birth and living; is the friendliness and helpfulness of its citizens. I have had numerous people give me helpful advice and suggestions concerning this column. I sincerely appreciate my readers and hope to have provided some food for thought along the way.

Each section of our great county is unique with its own features. There is no wonder that folks are coming here in retirement and living out their lives in such a blessed area. Among the county’s interesting places are of course Mountain City, the County Seat and Laurel Bloomery, named for the operation of a bloomery, such as what is used in the smelting of iron ore. Other sections include Sutherland, Shouns, Neva, Trade, Maymead, Forge Creek, Shady Valley, and others.

Ah, Shady Valley, one of the most beautiful areas of Johnson County. I spent many days of happiness when my dad, mom and I visited my mother’s two sisters and their families in Shady Valley. My cousins and I played baseball and other games and it seemed the day ended too soon and it was time to head back toward our home across the Iron Mountain.
At the outset of this column I wrote that I was impressed with the friendliness of the folks in this area and some who were raised here and moved away and never forgot their roots. A few days ago I ran into Kenneth Blevins, a Shady native who now lives in Bluff City, Tennessee. He said he had some information about Shady Valley and he wanted to share it with me. Of course I was delighted. A few days later, I received his material in the mail. I will, in turn, share some of it with you.

There were four two-room schoolhouses in Shady before they were consolidated into Shady Valley School. Those schools are as follows: Crandull that served the lower end of the Valley; Shady Flatts that served students around the Cole and Garland farms; Harmon located in the center of the Valley; and Winchester that served in the area around the Presbyterian Church.

I had heard that Shady or a portion of it was once called “Did” but I wasn’t sure of it. Mr. Blevins had a couple of documents were Did, Tennessee was mentioned so I guess it is true. It has been reported that Shady Valley was once the capital of Tennessee. According to the report, the capital of the state was established in Shady by the legislature and remained overnight. Of course, the Backbone Rock Recreational Area with the rock formation as a focus is a good place to hike, picnic, fish etc. A tunnel was drilled through the rock to accommodate railroad tracks and trains. That was when Shady was a huge producer of timber and iron ore. A two-lane highway now goes through the tunnel. The rich soil of the valley is good for growing a variety of vegetables and grain. A large apple orchard once covered the mountainside in Shady Valley. Shady is reportedly only one of two areas in Tennessee that has cranberry bogs.

Mr. Blevins’ material was indeed helpful in writing this column. I extend my sincere appreciation to him.