Downtown Walking Tour Debuts
By David McGee | Bristol Herald Courier | September 30, 2007This story appeared Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007 in the Bristol Herald Courier.
BRISTOL, TN/VA ? Downtown visitors can learn more about Twin City history through a new self-guided walking tour.
The nearly two-hour tour features prerecorded information about spots in the historic downtown area. Much of the area and several buildings and structures ? including the former Union Depot train station and Bristol's famous welcome sign ? are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
"A lot of the tour highlights our musical heritage and other parts focus on our history, including our Civil War history and the downtown business district," said Kimberly Leonard of the Chamber of Commerce.
The route includes 13 stops ? along or near State Street ? between Volunteer Parkway and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Bristol is known as the "Birthplace of Country Music," and the tour includes a Birthplace of Country Music mural, the Birthplace of Country Music monument, Classic Recording Studio, information about the Farm and Fun Time radio program, and the planned Birthplace of Country Music Alliance cultural heritage center.
The tour also includes the legend of how Hank Williams and his driver stopped at the Burger Bar on Piedmont Avenue en route to a concert in West Virginia. The singer died while traveling to that show.
Other stops include the train station, the Bristol sign, the Paramount Center for the Arts, Cumberland Square Park, the Confederate soldier's monument, and a NASCAR mural.
"This will be educational for both visitors and locals," Leonard said. "There are so many things that people don't know about Bristol ? even people who live here. There are a lot of really neat things on the tour."
Funding for the program came from $25,000 in grants from the Tennessee and Virginia departments of tourism and Believe in Bristol's Main Street program, Leonard said.
Visitors can rent an MP-3 player at the chamber or download the tour to their own player at no charge.