When the town of Kingsport was chartered in 1822, it was already proving to be a strategic location for boats carrying iron and salt. Kingsport continued to develop steadily, especially after the arrival of the Clinchfield Railroad (now CSX Transportation) in 1910. In the early 20th century, Kingsport was one of the first cities to implement a school system based on a model developed at Columbia University. It was also the first city with a modern urban design and was among the first municipalities to have a city manager form of government. Kingsport soon became known as the "Model City" and has kept its progressive reputation to this day.
A variety of attractions are readily available to Kingston residents and visitors. Historic sites, such as the Andrew Johnson Historic Site and the Allandale Mansion, are within an easy drive of Kingsport. Built as the private residence of Ruth and Harvey Brooks half a century ago, the Allandale Mansion is known as Kingsport's "White House" for its similar appearance and magnificence. The mansion's interior is furnished with rare antiques and paintings purchased from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The gardens, designed by President Eisenhower's landscape architect, also help contribute to the stunning overall effect of the building.
For outdoor activities, visitors can head to Warrior's Path State Park. Named for its proximity to an ancient Cherokee war and trading path, the 950-acre park combines nature and wildlife conservation with entertainment. Visitors can enjoy more than nine miles of trails or use the Olympic-sized pool, Frisbee golf course, stables or waterslide. Warrior's Path Golf Course, one of the most popular courses in the Tennessee State Parks system, is also located in the park.
Bays Mountain Park, owned and operated by the city of Kingsport, encompasses several thousand acres of untouched woodlands. Surrounded on all sides by mountains, the park features a 44-acre lake, a nature center and museum, a 3,000-acre outdoor classroom and a wolf habitat. From wildflower viewing in the spring to cross-country skiing in winter, outdoor recreation is popular year-round at Bays Mountain Park.
River Front Park, also known as Boat Yard Park, is a National Historic Landmark and is home to the Long Island of the Holston River. A swinging footbridge connects visitors to picnic tables, a fishing pier, playground equipment and a five-mile bike and footpath. Water lovers can seek out one of Kingsport's numerous other bodies of water, including Holston, Patrick Henry and Boone lakes. The lakes are prime for fishing, boating, jet skiing, swimming and parasailing.
Kingsport also hosts a variety of unique celebrations year-round. Fun Fest - a nine-day community event featuring a beach party and balloon races - kicks off in July, while September brings both the Fall Festival and the Downtown Kingsport Art and Crafts Festival. Kingsport starts the year off right with First Night, a family-oriented downtown New Year's Eve celebration featuring singers, magicians, comedians, clowns, storytellers, and various other artists and entertainers.
One of the benefits of living in Kingsport is its accessibility to great regional attractions. Jonesborough, the oldest town in Tennessee, is nearby, as are the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Dollywood and the Biltmore House and Gardens. Various museums -- devoted to subjects as diverse as art and Grand Ole Opry star Archie Campbell -- lie within a 75-mile radius of Kingsport.
Kingsport is also known for its high quality of life. The Kingsport Public School System has received the Governor's A+ award for community commitment to excellence in education. The city itself has received international awards for public information products and offers its residents a comfortable standard of living, thanks to its large industrial base. Featuring a delightful mix of steady growth, economic stability and Southern hospitality, Kingsport is a perfect hometown for families and businesses alike.