If you havent taken the time or made the effort to visit the Butler Museum, youre really missing something. I personally make it a priority to check it out as often as I can. And each time I visit it, I find something new to me not necessarily because something has been added to the outstanding collection of historical items concerning Old Butler, but because I just hadnt noticed it before. Of course, Items are added as they become available. The museum is a memorial to Old Butler, the town that was inundated by the waters of Watauga Lake when Watauga Dam was built in the 40s.
The opening and schedules for the museum have been set for this year. The Museum opens this weekend. The dates and hours are Friday, May 30, 1:30 p.m. until 4:00 p.m., Saturday, May 31, 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, June 1, 1:30 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Tours will be conducted each day and on Saturday food will be served in the old Stout Store. That store was moved from its location on Highway 67 to the museum site a few years ago. The food will include bologna sandwiches, cheese and crackers, hot dogs and soup beans and cornbread. Beginning the next weekend June 7 and 8, the museum will be open each Saturday and Sunday through October 1:30 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. For Monday through Friday tours, those interested may call 423/753/6961in advance of the planned tour.
The story behind the museum is extremely interesting. There are possibly folks who are new to Johnson County or even some natives who due to their busy lives may not have visited the museum that was built in memory of Butler, The Town That Would Not Drown. The Town of Butler was named for Roderick R. Butler who gained fame as a Union officer in the 13th Regiment, Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry. He also served in the United States Congress as well as a Tennessee State Senator. His stately brick home is located on North Church Street in Mountain City, Tennessee
Butler was a typical country town with a variety of stores, shops and other types of businesses. There was at least one service station. The Blue Bird Tea Room was a popular gathering spot. Nearby was a lumber mill and I think Old Butler was once the location of a chair factory.
Anyway, the fine folks of the town became aware that The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was considering building a dam across the Watauga River that would be used for flood control as flooding was often and destructive. Of course the resulting reservoir has also become a great source of recreation. Although many of Butlers citizens were reluctant to leave their homes, the TVA project became a reality when the gates were closed in December of 1948. Some Butler folks moved away, some moved to a then new tract called Carderview and some moved their homes back from the waters edge. The name of the new community was changed from Carderview back to Butler on June 1, 1953.
If you live in Johnson County and just havent yet visited the museum, this weekend will be a great time to do so. You wont be disappointed.