From Mountain City to Memphis (a recent report from the northeast end of that equation & reminiscence)

Bad weather caused Gov. Bill Haslam to miss a scheduled appearance last week in Mountain City – one end of the classic political cliche comment by statewide candidaes of promising to represent Tennessee from the northeast geographical extreme to the southwest extreme of Memphis (i.e., from Mountain City to Memphis). But the thunderstorms inspired Robert Houk to pen a partly cloudy/partly sunny column on historic gubernatorial dealings with the Johnson County seat.
Had the governor kept his appointment in Mountain City, (Lt. Gov. Ron) Ramsey said, Haslam would have been the first sitting governor since the late Ned McWherter (a Democrat) to visit Johnson County.
That might not be entirely correct. Mumpower recalls then Gov. Don Sundquist (a Republican) stumping for him in Johnson County on Oct. 31, 1996.
Another Johnson County resident also told me he vaguely remembers former Gov. Phil Bredesen (a Democrat) showing up for a meeting in Mountain City early in his first term.
Regardless of who was the last governor to visit Mountain City, it’s safe to say getting there is not always easy. This is something the late Gov. Frank Clement (a Democrat) discovered in the late 1950s when he became extremely carsick while traveling the winding road from Shady Valley to Mountain City. Clement was so delighted to finally reach his destination that he announced the next time he traveled to Mountain City it would be on a four-lane highway. The two-term governor was never seen in Mountain City again, and Johnson County is still waiting for that four-lane highway.
(Note: I have previously heard the same story attributed to two other Democratic governors – Jim McCord and Gordon Browning (a Clement rival). But I suspect Robert’s recounting is more reliable.)
Ramsey (who has his own white-knuckle story about flying into the Mountain City airport during a thunderstorm) said Monday that Johnson County may never get a four-lane highway, but believes the county could see an improved two/three-lane highway connecting it to Interstate Highway 81 in Virginia within 10 years. He said the Tennessee Department of Transportation is moving ahead with environmental studies of a plan to improve State Highway 91 to the Virginia line.

One thought on “From Mountain City to Memphis (a recent report from the northeast end of that equation & reminiscence)

  1. Donna Locke

    Very difficult to get to Mountain City for parole hearings. Have to go again soon. Maybe the Tennessee “justice” system can find even more ways to punish victims and their families.
    We have the option to do live video-audio participation from Nashville, but we feel some of the family should be at the prison and in the room where most of the parole board members who attend will be.

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