The historic site opened for its 58th season Tuesday on the heels of $500,000 worth of upgrades and updates — including replacing gravel pathways with pavement to make all its offerings ADA accessible and easier to navigate for anyone with any mobility issues. Each year the site, U.S. territorial capitol from 1790 to 1792, offers thousands of visitors the chance to “experience the 18th century today” through living history tours featuring costumed interpreters. Many of those visitors are K-12 students from across the region, and on Tuesday some of the sites first 2018 guests arrived in two Kingsport City Schools buses.
But Rocky Mount Museum Executive Director Samuel Wegner said the site’s unique story and location — not far from Interstate 81 or Interstate 26 — help it draw tourists in general.
“This is where Tennessee began,” Wegner said of Rocky Mount, but adding the entire region offers an abundance of heritage tourism attractions that can take visitors from the 1700s to the Bristol Sessions and beyond.
In addition to the paved pathways, the $500,000 worth of improvements included a new roof and guttering for the museum, new split-rail fencing around much of the property to replace worn fencing, railings along access pathways from the handicapped parking area to the museum entrance, removal of overgrown landscaping just outside the museum, returning old pathways to greenspace, and, when completed, new pavement in the parking lot.
Fast facts about Rocky Mount
• Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a certified Overmountain Victory Trail Association Historic Site.
• Served as territorial capitol of the Southwest Territory from 1790 to 1792.
• Its 32 acres include the Cobb-Massengill House (1779) and four additional historic structures. The home was lived in until sometime in the 1950s. In 1958, the Rocky Mount Historical Association was established as a nonprofit. It is governed today by a 20-member board of trustees. The museum facility opened in 1962 and has since grown through multiple additions.
• The 5,700-square-foot Massengill Overmountain Museum facility houses the Rocky Mountain Historical Association’s collection of approximately 7,000 artifacts and more than 2,500 photographs, books and documents.
• You may “adopt” one of the site’s sheep by donating $100 toward its upkeep.
• The site is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., from the first Tuesday in March through the third Friday in December.
• Admission: $8 for adults; $6 senior rate for 55 and older; $5 per child. Discounts available for members of AAA, the American Association of Retired Persons and the American Alliance of Museums. Free admission for active duty, National Guard and Reserve military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day as part of the Blue Star Museum Program.
• Located off Highway 11-E at 200 Hyder Hill Road. Telephone: 423-538-7396.